For the past 6 months or so, my Father has been speaking to me about love. During one particular fast, my heart was to make His love my goal. I realized the lack of love I had in my heart for others and wanted to change that. The irony of that fast was even though I had wonderful encounters with the Lord and many revelations, it was as though my heart become more devoid of love, yet I didn’t realize it until about a week ago.
My time with Jesus was suffering. I was reverting to old things I used to do. With the season and the changes that I and my husband are in, I didn’t realize the pain I was feeling. The kind of pain where you see where the Lord has you, and it’s very good, but you also see the price and are counting the cost of everything. When you’re not spending time with the Lord and experiencing pain or loss, everything around you becomes hazy, confusing, and heavy and you tend to draw back and isolate (especially when someone hurts or offends you), which was exactly how I was feeling. God was doing something in me, I just couldn’t see it or feel it.
A few days ago, I went to the One Thing conference at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City (IHOPKC). It was as if the entire thing was tailored just for me. It’s funny how God times things out in your life, if you really pay attention. I was able to attend the Leadership Summit for the first time this year. This summit brings together pastors, ministry leaders, house of prayer leaders, and many others together to share their hearts, their successes and failures, and to talk about what God is doing in the earth, getting a biblical and prophetic perspective, and how to lead from the place of love and boldness. I was greatly encouraged by the wealth of knowledge from leaders all over the world. During a time of Q & A, there was a few statements made that really impacted my heart:
“Loss (or pain) has a way of putting us in a place of questioning who we are and what we are doing. In these times, we need to look to the character of God. It’s important to stay together and not give into isolation; to stay vulnerable and connected, even though it hurts. It’s even more vital to stay in the place of prayer.”
“As a leader, it’s important for me to love like I’ve never been hurt before. To be connected and vulnerable, and keep seeking God’s heart for others. To consistently live a life of giving value to others, and finding my value in God.”
“Loving others counts as loving God.”
“We must not be too busy trying to find a way out of pain, but rather find Jesus in the place of pain.”
“It is very important to NEVER make decisions when you are in an emotional crisis! You need to surround yourself with godly prophetic people who can speak into these situations and take your time walking through it.”
“As a leader, self discovery is a process that can be painful. It’s the question of “who am I?” It can be difficult in those times when reality doesn’t match up to expectation, causing much pain.”
“There is a great danger in being to busy to point of neglecting your own heart. You need to ask the question: what is success? Is is the great, wonderful, many things or is it that your heart is large? How well do you love?”
“You must schedule your life in ministry AROUND your family and your devotional time with Jesus. Those two things are pivotal in maintain a vibrant heart alive in love and in prayer!”
At the table I was sitting at, I was given a word that centered around Mark 10:42-45, centering on verse 43, “…but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.” Humility. God brought me back to same place He did the last time I was here. The place of humility. The place of 1 Corinthians 13…”If I have not love, I am nothing.”
When I walked into the bookstore, I saw a book called “Humility: The Journey Toward Holiness” by Andrew Murray. I bought it immediately and started reading. I haven’t finished it, but so far, these statements jumped off of the page at me:
“Let us consider how our lack of love, indifference to the needs and feelings of others, even sharp comments and hasty judgments that are often excused as being honest and straight forward, are thwarting the effect of the Holy Spirit on others. Manifestations of temper and touchiness and irritation, feelings of bitterness and estrangement, have their root in nothing but pride. Pride creeps in almost everywhere, and the assemblies of the saints are not exceptions. Let’s ask ourselves, what would be the effect if all of us were guided by the humility of Jesus, that the cry of our whole heart, night and day, would be, “Oh, for the humility of Jesus in myself and all around me!” Let us honestly fix our heart on our lack of humility-that which has been revealed in the likeness of Christ’s life, in the whole character of His redemption-and realize how little we know of Christ and His salvation.”
“Of His own power, His own will, His own glory, His whole mission with it’s works and teaching-of all this, He said, I am nothing. I have given myself to the Father to work; HE IS ALL. This life of self-abnegation, of absolute submission and dependence upon the Father’s will, Christ found to be the source of perfect peace and joy. He lost nothing by giving all to God.”
GUILTY. I find myself guilty in these words of truth. Todd White spoke at the One Thing conference and in the midst of his message about love he said, “People hurt other people because they don’t know who they are, and people get offended and hurt because they don’t know who they are either. It’s an identity crisis on both sides.” Neither know how deeply they are loved and that they are called to live in the place of love. The place of humility where Jesus lived and lead.
Allen Hood was another speaker at this conference. He talked about the Church of Ephesus and the letter Jesus told John to write to them in the book of Revelation. Jesus commended them for their works, their patience, and for their labor, but He held ONE THING against them: “…that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.” THIS HIT ME SO HARD, as though I was hearing it, really hearing it for the first time! Allen Hood went on to say, “Beloved, God will not multiply a loveless people!”
God will use my gifts and talents to further His Gospel, even in my lack of love. But there will come a day when I will stand before Jesus and I will be judged. It won’t be about all of the wonderful things I did in His Name. I will be judged for how well I knew Him. Ultimately, for how well I loved.
In this moment, I felt the guilt and shame of my hurt and anger; of all of the offenses I was holding onto. You see, I’ve known these things. I have had these revelations before. My Father was speaking to me clearly and for quite some time, but in this moment, it felt as though all of my walls, the fortress I had built around my heart shattered into a million pieces, and my lungs expanded out and suddenly, I could breathe again!
I heard the Lord say, “STOP TRYING TO PROTECT YOURSELF. OPEN YOUR HEART AND LET ME PROTECT YOU.” I saw myself standing, arms wide open, my heart like a rose, opening, exposing everything precious inside of me to the wind, rain, the harshness of all of the elements, feeling the pulls of intense pain and the fullness of joy and freedom at the same time! And I realized, as a lover of Christ and even more as a leader, this is the place I must live and lead from: THE PLACE OF LOVE.
What does this mean? It means I have much repenting to do to my friends and family, to the other leaders God has placed around me. It means I absolutely WILL NOT go forward in making plans and building a ministry until I know that those around me are vibrant, healthy, and in the place of healing and hope. I will settle for NOTHING LESS than the humility of Christ. It won’t happen over night and I do not have it in me to make myself this way. I know I will make mistakes and say and do the wrong things. I know that there will be times where I will be hurt, offended, and angry, but the difference is NOT holding onto those things and letting them define and dictate my life. My Father encouraged me with a word from a stranger and this word is for all of you who read this:
“Your heart is OPEN. You don’t have to worry about the future because your heart is open and He knows you will keep coming back to Him. You heart is open and that is your safety.”
I realize this blog is long, and it’s a lot to digest, but it is an absolute vital and pivotal message. One I long to become. You become what you behold, and my deepest heart’s desire is to keep the One with fire in His eyes every before me: Jesus, my Savior and my First Love. If I have to lose everything to gain love, so be it. I don’t need to be a leader in a ministry, I don’t need a platform to do what I’m called to do; to love and be loved. My prayer is to keep myself in the place of sacrifice; to diligently seek the face of God and let love have His way in me. I am weak and feeble, but in my weakness, He will show Himself strong in me as He will in you. Keep your heart open. All things are possible with Him!