music

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Standing Outside the Fire

Published May 31, 2017 by Dawn

I walked into a tree limb yesterday morning. It was literally my breaking point. I walked into a tree limb, it poked me in the eye and I started to cry.

 

I know … I sound super lame right now, but it’s true. I fell apart after being poked in the eye by a stick. You’re probably cracking up right now. I’d be laughing too, but … well, ok, I’m laughing now. It wasn’t funny at the time.

 

I hit my breaking point exactly as I just mentioned. After a two-night, surprise admission to the hospital (which means a crappy shower and no razor … let that sink in, ladies … ), I came home right before a strong storm knocked out the electricity (ok, seriously, am I the only one obsessed with taking a shower?). I came home with a kid who doesn’t understand how vital it is to not do anything for the next ten days of his life while his body wards off a very nasty infection that necessitates some of the strongest antibiotics currently known to the medical world. To say I have been stressed lately doesn’t seem like I have adequately conveyed to you the angst going on in me. But do you get it when I mention the tree poking me in the eye? It didn’t even touch my actual eyeball. It just poked me near my tear duct. Tears welled up in my eyes, but the tears from my heart pushed them overboard and I stood in the yard crying like a child.

 

Dear Daddy,

I’m done. Please, not another thing. These so-called light and momentary troubles are getting the best of me right now. I don’t know how strong you think I am, or how strong you want me to be but I assure you I’m not. I’m done. This assault … can I call a time out? I don’t know what you’re aiming at in my life right now, but my hands are up and I surrender. How can I glorify you in this moment? What purpose can you possibly have in poking me in the eye? Cease fire! I can’t take anymore!

 

I eventually sucked it up and got back to what I was doing: picking up the yard after said storm so it could be mowed. The Holy Spirit whispered something to me that Paul said, about counting it all joy in suffering … it was an okay thought and it got me through the moment but that yard just sucked me back in to the here and now.

 

There was so much natural debris in my yard, I decided to start a small fire and burn it little by little. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned how God uses music to speak to me sometimes, but it’s one of my main obsessions, so it makes sense. Only His choice of song was a little strange … Standing Outside the Fire. I don’t think I’ve heard that song since I was a kid. But there I was, standing next to the fire when it started running through my head.

 

Life is not tried it’s just merely survived if you’re standing outside the fire.

 

And I realized that here lately, I have been merely surviving. With my head barely above water, so to speak. Standing outside the fire – existing outside that precious communion with the Holy Spirit – I am barely making it. I am overwhelmed. To be completely honest, I’m not trying. I’m not putting forth much effort beyond just making it through each day.

 

There are several encounters with fire in the Bible. Moses at the burning bush. Moses on the mountaintop. The fire at Mount Sinai. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Elijah. The fire is both unapproachable and engulfing. I can clearly see a progression of the Spirit of God: coaxing us near, engulfing us, drawing us near to Him. When the veil was torn, all of humanity was given a beautiful opportunity to come into this kind of fellowship with God. Unfortunately, there’s also a discomfort involved. Fire purifies. It burns up the natural man until there’s nothing left to hinder in our pursuit of the Father’s heart. It feels a lot like heat and tribulation in this life. Jesus came that we may have life more abundantly, but we won’t ever do more than merely survive if we are willing to stand outside the fire. We’ll just be surviving the onslaught. Never victorious. Never advancing. Never coming into precious communion with the Father. I know I wasn’t made for that.

You and I were made for Him who shows up as a pillar of fire. Who says He will be a wall of fire around us. The children of God were made to be consumed. These sufferings come so that the glory of God might be revealed in us. The fire of His presence. I don’t want to stand outside the fire. I want to step into it. Walk in it, knowing that God is there with me and will not leave me or forsake me. I want to allow His Holy Spirit to purify me through trials. When I am weak, He is strong. Here I am freely admitting my frailty. I am ready and needing God to stand by me and give me strength. These moments are so sweet, even if they seem a little bitter at first. “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an even greater glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Cor. 4:17).

 

 

Praying for a Man

Published May 3, 2017 by Dawn

I hate confessions. It’s weird to let you into my soul. I’m not purposefully this open about things, but I feel like if God is speaking something to me, most of the time, it’s because He wants me to share it with others. So here goes …

A dear friend of mine invited me to a concert not too long ago. It wasn’t something I would have showed up to on my own because I’m not that cool. I like to sit at home and drink tea and avoid my phone … or any other form of communication with the outside world. I’m the kind of person who’s only an extrovert because I’m an introvert …

Anyway, I went to this concert and had a great time. It wasn’t just entertainment; it was worship. I love worship. I love getting lost in love for a while with my One and Only. And I love watching other people worship too. Music is one of my greatest passions and in a room full of people using their talents to worship my King is exactly where I want to be for eternity. Heaven, I can’t wait to meet you!

Ok, on to the confession: So, there was this guy … singing. On the stage. I had to close my eyes to keep from being distracted because 1.) he was gorgeous; 2.) no ring; 3.) his voice; 4.) his was lost in the worship.

I’m not saying everyone else on that stage was purely entertaining, because I don’t believe that at all. What I am saying is that this man was exuberantly worshipping. Without a ring on. Singing to my King. Gorgeously.

I kept my eyes closed most of the time so I would focus on the One I came to see. Not this guy, because before this concert, this guy did not even exist on my radar. I went home that night feeling very refreshed, released from some shackles and focused despite the distractions in my own head.

Imagine my surprise when, a few days later, God recalls this man to mind and tells me to pray for him. Here’s how that conversation went (relatively … I didn’t record it exactly):

(this guy comes to mind while I’m praying…)

Me: Ooooooo, I rebuke you, Satan!

Holy Spirit: Pray for him.

Me: … I probably shouldn’t be doing this. It’s not a good idea, Lord.

Him: It’s my Will. Pray for him.

Me: I know you mean well, but I can’t have this guy on my mind. I’m not strong enough for that. Can’t someone else?

Him: If you had a husband, you would pray for him all the time. Who prays for the single men in ministry?

Me: Their future wives. Come on, Lord, please! I can’t … I’m not strong enough to handle this.

Him: But you aren’t salacious. Pray without coveting. He’s your brother and his integrity is important.

Me: This isn’t fair.

Him: Be obedient.

So I started to pray for this man. I pray for him daily. I don’t even know him, but I guess I don’t have to. My mind revolves back to God’s question in the matter: Who prays for the single men in ministry? And while I know there are single women everywhere praying for a husband, how many of us are willing to spend our time just praying for our brothers in Christ? After all, many of them struggle with the same things we struggle with. Loneliness. Isolation. Temptation. Distractions. And the battle intensifies when we minister for the Lord.

So many of us despise the single life. So few of us are willing to let it be anything more than a waiting room before we’re ushered in to our “happily ever after.” But what if it can be more than that? I offer to you that it can. It can be a time of fulfillment in the presence of God. It can be a time of undistracted worship, and obedience, to His will. If we allow God, He can use us mightily even if no one else ever knows our names. We can be a face in a crowd at a concert, but the prayer warrior in the closet holding up the weary arms of our brothers and sisters in Christ. So to the one guy on stage without a ring … I’m praying for you, Brother.

Something for Nothing

Published September 5, 2013 by Dawn

I was absentmindedly singing along to the radio on the way home from work, trying not to give way to the panic attack toying with my throat. It was an awful day. Seems the honeymoon period is over at school and my student is having a hard time actually adjusting to this routine all over again. Her behavior has made this abundantly clear. The song pulled me out of my dysfunction into the reality of what I really needed: “God, give me strength to give something for nothing.” I exhaled a silent “amen” and acknowledged, “this is exactly where I am, Lord.”

It’s so hard, isn’t it? To give to others without receiving. To pour into people and relationships and then sit with empty hands. I know that this is the example of Heaven. It’s exactly what Jesus did for us. Gave all He had knowing that we have nothing to offer Him in return. But it requires so much of a person. It requires a selflessness that I don’t have on my own. I have spent much time this week simply praying for peace and patience for the next moment. And moment by moment, I’ve made it through my days. But how slowly the days go when you are painfully aware of the moments. When there’s no joy in them, you’re just doing your duty to the Lord. Halting at every other step just to regain your balance, you walk unsteadily through your day.

I think of Luke 6:38, which says, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” The hardest part to accept, I think, is that this scripture says nothing of timing, nothing of the source, and requires you to simply look to the Lord and say, “It’s all in your hands.”

Of course, this is very difficult if receiving is your ultimate purpose in all that you do. The Lord seems to take Him time about such things, doesn’t He? And niggling in the back of my mind is the fact that there were many men in the Bible who, according to Hebrews 11:13, did not receive what was promised but only saw them from afar. These men are of much greater strength than I. I look to scriptures such as 2 Chronicles 15:7, “… But as for you, be firm and let not your hands be weak; for there is a reward for your deeds. …” and reward tends to become my focus. But what if God is asking me to be selfless and obedient simply because He desires me to act in accordance with His will and His spirit, and not for what I hope to receive as a reward? How can I say to Him, “God give me strength to give something for nothing. I want to be a glimpse of the Kingdom that’s coming soon.” To be a glimpse of His kingdom. That’s a selfless goal. An admirable one. A goal that requires you to die to all your fleshly desires and expectations of others. A goal worth striving for.

Father, this is my prayer for the upcoming year: Help me to give something, in fact, all that you have put inside of me, without demanding to receive anything in return. All that I am and all that I do, I want to place in Your hands. Use me. Help me to be selfless, for the sake of your kingdom.

*The lyrics mentioned are from Francesca Battistelli’s “Motion of Mercy”

When I lose my mind …

Published August 22, 2013 by Dawn

A few Sundays ago, a man at my church sang a song that took me way back. It was a song I heard when I was a young girl that I used to just rock out to. You know, a song that speaks so highly of Christ and tells your salvation story so well. A song you can’t help but dance to. And I couldn’t. I was up on the platform, sitting with the rest of the worship team and couldn’t contain myself. I was dancing in my seat! I have to admit, this is not the norm. My church isn’t exactly charismatic, doesn’t worship like that at all …. Like, ever. But I was lost in the joy of this song to Him. I wasn’t thinking of anyone else but the Lord and the truth that was being sung. I was thoroughly engrossed and enjoying myself.

When he finished singing, I let out a whoop so loud in exaltation to my God, and clapped like a fool. The lady next to me shot me a look that silently asked, “Have you lost your mind?” With no defense, I had to silently admit to myself, “Yes, I have.”

I don’t know exactly what was going on inside my head at that time. I was lost in the worship and joy of my Savior. I love what Christ has done for me and inside of me. Sometimes, I guess I just lose my mind a little. I try not to. I know it’s not cool to do that, and definitely not normal. Or socially acceptable. I’d apologize, but I know it may happen again, and then what?

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of David dancing before the Lord as he brings the Ark of the Covenant back into Jerusalem. His wife Michal looks down from a window and sees David outside making a fool of himself and thinks, “He’s lost his mind!” She actually despised him so much in that moment because of the scene he is making. After all, he is the King. Seems he should have a little more pride and dignity, right? When the celebration was over, David went home and Michal jumped down his throat about it. Forget the tight-lipped glare. She gave him the what-for! “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls … as any vulgar fellow would do.”

I love David’s response. I have prayed for this level of devotion for many years. He said to her, “It was before the Lord … I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.” I have to admit, I was a little embarrassed after all was said and done, by my behavior that Sunday. Humiliated in my own eyes. But in that moment, I was worshipping Him recklessly.

I came across this verse in 2 Corinthians that speaks to such displays. Second Corinthians 5:13 says this: “If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God. If we are in our right mind, it is for you.” Honestly, this verse says it all. What the Lord did for me, what He ransomed me from and the price He paid to secure my heart and my eternity, blows my mind. I can’t get over it. And sometimes, I just get a little nuts about it. I forget any one is around and I lavish on Him and I allow the fullness of joy to spring up in me. Sometimes, I pray to Him without regard to time or the noise I may be making. Sometimes, I dance or clap or shout. I’m not thinking about anyone or anything else. Just Him. And I express the love that overwhelms me in a way that may seem a bit … overwhelming. I don’t mean to be offensive or distracting or ridiculous. I just have a temporary lapse of reasoning. All the other times, the times of composure and soft worship and whispering to Him … in other words, when I’m in my right mind … that’s all for you. I don’t want to freak you out or drive you away so I contain myself until I get home. There’s plenty of time to dance around and shout to Him while I’m cooking or cleaning. My kids don’t mind. So if you will, please overlook my random acts of insanity. I just lose my mind a little when I think about what He’s done for me!

“It’s gonna be worth it.”

Published March 13, 2013 by Dawn

Spent some time in worship last night. I’ve really just been needing God to speak a Rhema word to me. You know, a word in season. A word that speaks specifically to my prayer and gives renewal and direction. I am in need of a Rhema word. As I laid here listening to worship music, letting it draw me into His presence (or draw Him into mine), I realized that the music was a conversation taking place between His heart and mine. Still echoing today is this line: It’s gonna be worth it. It’s gonna be worth it all. Gonna be worth it…

I realize that there is nothing significantly wrong with my life. I mean, sure, it’s tough. But no tougher than the next gal. Some days are harder than others. For instance, yesterday, the hardest thing I had to do was drag myself out of the house one last time for my daughter’s volleyball practice. Today, my car demanded an emergency visit to the mechanic in several different languages, my furnace filter got sucked up into the black hole inside the furnace, cats have somehow managed to find their way into my basement and create a massive stink, and I realized there was a window loose in the basement door. Yep, some days are definitely worse than others. But even still, it’s not as bad as it could be, I know.

As I took apart the furnace panel by panel, wrestled the filter out through a one-inch slot in the bottom, nailed cardboard to a broken window and caulked the door, I thought about all the things that could be wrong but aren’t. Such as, I am not the parent in a sleep-induced coma who will wake up and bury their child tomorrow. I’m not the mother sleeping huddled around babies in an alley. I’m not kissing hungry babies goodnight. I’m blessed beyond measure, actually. Sure, I may be faced with uncertainty in areas of my life. I’m struggling to know what God would have me to do as far as work and ministry, and those things weigh heavy on my heart. I am constantly aware of needs that I feel should be filled in one way or another and aren’t (atleast in the way I envision them). And all of this hurts. But my spirit ever reminds me, “it’s gonna be worth it.”

I think of Jesus and all He went through to save me, and I imagine that the Spirit whispered this to Him over and over. Through the tears at Gethsemane: “It’s gonna be worth it.” Through the arrest and beatings: “It’s gonna be worth it.” Through the physical pain of the cross: “It’s gonna be worth it.” Through the heartache of mockery and rejection: “It’s gonna be worth it.” Through The Father turning His face away: “It’s gonna be worth it.” And finally, through death: “It’s gonna be worth it.”

Three days later, it was worth it. So worth it. Jesus came face to face with Death, Hell and The Grave, defeated them, redeemed His Beloved (us!) and then sat down at the very right hand of Almighty God. Oh, it was so worth it! My heart is uplifted with this reality. God gave Jesus exactly what He promised as Jesus fulfilled His purpose.

I guess I just needed to be reminded that life doesn’t have to make sense. There will always be taint of death and destruction. It’s my birthright, in a sense, of my carnality. A constant reminder of my need for Him. There will always be pain and suffering, some things that will hurt worse than others. There will always be rejection and mockery. There’s a something to be done that doesn’t necessarily fit the plan or feel good. However, there will also always be a whisper in my heart, “It’s gonna be worth it. It’s gonna be worth it all.” All that I imagine Heaven to be cannot even come close to reality. If “eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard…” I really have no idea just how much is waiting for me there. But I hold to this promise, as surely as Jesus did, “It’s gonna be worth it.”