It Has Always Been Him Calling to Me

I asked God to give me something to share with a beautiful, familiar group of women. I would soon have the opportunity to speak to them and I wanted to leave something inspirational, something worthy of remembering, in their hearts. I’m not a speaker. My mind seems to forget everything I want to say when I want to say it. So, every time this type of thing comes along, I plead with God. Less of me, more of You.

He quickly dropped “I Will Enter His Gates” in my heart.  I sang it for a week and nothing I conjured up came together in the beautiful way I had imagined. Maybe he wants me to talk about this or that…. No, that’s not it, again and again. I crumbled up papers and deleted notes on my phone. 

I woke up at 5am Sunday morning, the day of the event, with a reason. The song I had been singing was a song I loved when I was a child, a song from our hymn book. It was a memory I needed to unwrap.

This is a small part of my story. But, you all have a story like this, a story of how god has always been calling out to you.

When I was born, my parents weren’t christians. We were lost. What was it that brought us to him? I was five and I remember. I remember the tiny churches in the country. I remember the open arms and the looks on their faces. They knew my mom was coming home. But, my father, they were working so hard. They visited him in the hospital when he almost died. They spent hours and hours there. The preacher prayed over him when he was asleep for a month. He prayed when my dad didn’t know us. He even stayed when he woke up and lead him to Jesus. I was five and I knew my dad had died but God woke him up because he was so close. He was close to finally winning his soul. Maybe the accident would show him how far God had gone to save him?

fullsizerender-11

(Picture of dad and the preacher about 1.5 years after his accident when he was walking again)

Dad recovered at home and we went to church. They sang “At the Cross”and “Victory in Jesus.” They worked tirelessly.  They cried when my momma cried. They threw baby showers when my sister was born. There were so many embraces. They sang “Jesus Loves Me” and lead the crafts in Sunday school. They cared when we didn’t come. 

fullsizerender-12 fullsizerender-8

(My mom at my sister’s baby shower at the small church in the country)

Family reunions when I was 8 and 10 and 12, my uncle sang “Amazing Grace” with a guitar under the trees. They all stopped. All those people, 100 of them, stopped and felt him. The music, the prayer, it begged us to notice.  He was there, calling to them too. I remember looking around and seeing that they all noticed Jesus was there too.

Then, when I was 15, I gave my heart to Jesus. Those people actually had the guts to come and get me from my seat. They knew so much about me. More than I had told them. Their eyes said it all. But, I had been hiding. Hang out with us. We’ve got this thing called The Holy Spirit and you need it too. That’s when I decided. All those years, all that work and I finally said it out loud. Although, I had known long, long before that I could never live without Jesus. He would always be home, my resting place.

When my mom  almost gave up on people and stopped going to church, it was me that begged. If we don’t have them, what hope do we have? Those people, the church, they are Jesus. We can’t hold on to him alone. She listened.

It was always him calling me, following me, loving me.  He worked hard to keep my attention. From my earliest memory until right now, it has always been him.

We are the church. We are those baby showers, the embraces, the workers. We are the ones that sing songs and cut and glue in the classrooms. We are Jesus in the flesh.

fullsizerender-10

(Me around 1988 singing songs about Jesus)

When I asked God for something this week, he took his time and showed me something profound. The pulling, the tugging, the noticing, the calling, it was always him. From my earliest memory until this very moment. The entire thing, its been a journey towards him.  Just like it has been for you.

As we enter into the holidays thankful hearts, may it be full of those moments in time that cause you to notice. He’s been calling to all of us since the very beginning. Through music, prayer, love, embraces, pain and everything in between, it’s been him all along. He is the hope that shines in dark places. He is the joy that comes in the morning. He is everywhere, in everything. He has always been, and he will always be. 

Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.

Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

 

Advertisements

When God Says “You’re Welcome”

92db0cf5a2b6e5fff55aa653f2fd1151

THERE it is… THAT moment again. The one where God shows me that He is absolutely real. The moment when I pray and I feel him. Mostly, it’s when I thank him. Oh, how he rushes over me. So often, I think “Did that just happen?” Did I just feel God’s presence with me? Can we replay that because it was amazing?! It couldn’t be emotions.  I’ve replayed it over and over. I am happy at times. I am sad and overwhelmed sometimes too, but I never feel that. I might jump up and down when something makes me feel excited and thankful. But, I don’t feel that. It’s when I talk to Christ. That’s it. 

There has never been another sensation comparable in any way. I could turn inside-out with the thrill of it. It makes my heart feel like it could burst open with excitement. Usually, its head to toe goosebumps too and a quick rushing through my veins.  Really, there is no way to describe it appropriately. It’s like a drug. I need more of it. When you feel him, you KNOW it’s him. It is God almighty, the creator of the universe. His presence is made known and like no other.

This past week, I said “thank you” and there it was, rushing over me. That’s all it took, one simple  “Thank you.” No planning. Nothing strategic. Actually, it took me by surprise…. again.  It was like a GIGANTIC “You’re welcome,” right back at me. Ummm… can we repeat that God? Let me try that one more time. “THANK YOU… Darn!!” It didnt have the same effect the second time around. But, it was so good!

And every time it happens, I think to myself, but why? I’m so messed up, so sinful.  He loves even though I’m imperfect. How can this be? I surely didn’t deserve that. Regardless of the fact that I’ve made plenty of mistakes this week, he still made me aware that he was there, with me. It’s really fantastic and quite thrilling to know a God like this. There is no earning this type of love. He gives it away freely and unassuming. 
 

He Isn’t Like Us

IMG_5175 copy

He isn’t like us. He is loyal and covenant-keeping. He is merciful, gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. He forgives iniquity and transgression and sin. (Exod. 34: 5-7)

These are things I have to keep reminding myself when I don’t understand God. The Israelites lost faith, grumbled and built a golden calf. God remained merciful. His presence remained with them, despite their repeated offenses. He gave them another chance. Mercy and forgiveness to thousands.

Jesus sent to a growing world to show us the way. His body broken on the cross for our failures, for another chance. He gave and became our sacrifice forever and ever. Again, mercy and forgiveness to all.

“I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark.” Jesus

He is loyal, committed and unchanging.

He isn’t like us. He doesn’t think like us. He remains focused and present at all times. We are vulnerable to sickness, death, persuasion, and weariness. We can’t see his interventions and protection. We can’t comprehend his goodness. Mostly, we aren’t grateful, whether from lack of knowledge or lack of understanding. We can’t see what is coming or all the ways he has shielded us and hovered over us.  Yet, he keeps going before us, continuously. We aren’t aware of all his workings but he continues. It’s the ultimate humility, the ultimate kind of love. Giving and protecting with no credit, no boasting or, in most cases, no recognition at all.

So, when I grumble, he remains. When I am lost for days upon days, he follows me into the darkness, searching out my heart. When I walk far away and his voice is no longer heard, his presence remains. When I think I don’t need him, he stays anyway. His love is not removed when I fail or doubt or blame or grow bitter. He isn’t like us. There is another chance. Mercy and forgiveness to us all forever and always.

-Margie

waves and wind

“The waves and wind still know his name…” Bethel Music

057b98dbd9b42cd7ed1c13d965310cc1

Photo credit: indulgy.com/post/X9CrZUcO82/serenity

When I was a little girl, I would sit next to my mom in a small country church in Kentucky every single week. The walls were paneling and the pews were cold and hard. There were hymnals and Holy Bibles behind every seat. The room wouldn’t hold more that fifty people. They’d sing loud and uninhibited with only a piano and a voice leading them. Those people, they loved Jesus. They went to church until they died, literally. I have vivid memories of the man with the tracheostomy, 100-year-old ladies and sick people coming to the cross for healing. Age and crippling bodies didn’t keep them away. After all, Jesus and this community of like-minded believers were all that was true and eternal.

Sometimes the Spirit of God would fall and they would cry and shout. This “spirit” was God’s overwhelming presence coming to mend and love them. Tears would stream down their faces and sometimes they’d weep. They wept mostly for people they loved, lost souls. Sometimes they wept because God’s presence was so obviously answering prayers and healing their hearts. Those were tears of joy, so to speak. They were crying out to God from the depths of their hearts.

It scared me to death. I was so sure that this “presence of God” was real that I feared it would take over my body and make me cry or shout in front of people. Yep, no one had to tell me anything about Jesus. One moment around people overcome by His presence and He was REAL. Some people might look at that scenario and say it wasn’t healthy to fear God in that way as a child. But, God had shown himself 100% ever-present and real. The words to It is Well by Bethel Music sing “Far be it from me to not believe even when my eyes can’t see.” Even when I get mad and tired and frustrated, far be it that I not believe. He dug down deep a long time ago when I was a little girl and took root within my soul.

God was gentle with my heart back then. Everyone in the room would be feeling God’s presence and I would sit and take it all in. I felt it too, sitting there scared to death that God might take over my body like some sort of out of body experience. (Twenty-some years later, that has never EVER happened by the way.) But, God swarmed around me. And when I was ready, He filled me. He rested on me as a child like a dove. He whispered kind and loving words to my heart. I didn’t need to show it or even tell anyone, I held it all back for the sake of refinement.  But, God and I knew our secret. From as early as I can remember, He has been with me.

Recently, I was driving down the road listening to that song I mentioned earlier, It is Well, when I heard the words “the wind and waves still know his name.” All at once, I was reminded of these experiences I had as a young girl that I hadn’t thought about hardly ever. Honestly, those memories were filed away and destined to be forgotten. But, today, I suddenly felt a very familiar presence of God. It was a major déjà vu moment. I immediately associated it with that gentle presence of God I felt all those years ago, sitting and hiding behind a pew. It was just like being there again, back in time, face to face with the Holy Spirit.

Remarkably, God is the same as he was back then when I sat in that country church. The waves and wind still know his name because He is the same God that reached down and touched a little girl’s heart. He was there when I was formed in my mother’s womb. He was there when I was innocent and sad or didn’t understand. He was there when I made bad choices and when I turned my back on Him. He was there when I celebrated. He was there when I tried and failed. He was there in all the scary and difficult moments. His love is the only thing constant,  true and eternal, just as those believers taught me back then. He will see me through until the end. May His presence always be my dwelling place.

Lord, you have been our dwelling place
    in all generations.
 Before the mountains were brought forth,
    or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Psalm 90:1-2

 

tug-of-war.

2456_young_college_men_playing_tug_of_war_at_columbia_university

There is a war waging for our hearts, to shut them down and disable those who love Jesus.

I feel it stronger than ever before. I went away for a women’s retreat and found God in a place I hadn’t visited for a while. Not a physical place, but a place of depth within my soul. I found Him waiting for me for to crawl through the haze and reach Him.

There is power in people, in bodies who hold the same spirit. When we are together and dig down deep, our spirits unite and God seems to swell up and make Himself known in a way no one can deny. There is strength in unity and love. There is strength in wanting and needing God. There is strength in honesty and humility.

We found God. Anyone who was there can confirm that their hearts melted into one big pile of butter!

That is where I am finding myself now. I am butter before God. The moment I begin to worship Him, whether in my car or church, read the Bible or pray, there He is. I feel Him close and my eyes continue to instantly well up with tears. It’s like all that “stuff” that was between Him and I has diminished. I don’t have to work as hard to find Him. I don’t feel like He is a million miles away. He is close and I trust Him.

But, I have a feeling that something doesn’t like it.

I feel a strong pressure in my weaker moments to collapse, to give my thoughts back to the one who confines them. It feels like spiritual tug-of-war. Satan sees power in the hands of those whose hearts and minds move freely within God’s will. My days, since being home, have been harder than ever. I’ve thought things like “I should have just stayed in bed today.” On the other hand, my moments with God have been richer than ever. He is worth it. I choose to fight this fight against the one who devours. Our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against spiritual forces of evil. (Ephesians 6:12)

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber.” Psalm 121:1-3

If this is you, I encourage you to fight. Lift your eyes up and realize where your help comes from! He is worth it! 

HLC Women’s Retreat

943397_165333686973576_889348780_n

In His hands are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. Psalm 95:4

HLC Women’s Retreat starts TOMORROW! 

We are heading to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia! From the moment the retreat was scheduled, I began praying that every women who was meant to be there would find a way to make it happen! Every time someone added, I began dreaming about all the things God had in store for them.  So, for those of you who are going, it is meant to be!

God has something fantastic waiting for you this weekend!

XOXO

See you there!

Margie