Today’s Wednesday’s What Not is about how Jesus comes running when we call on His Name. Last week we looked at my personal struggle with insecurity and how the enemy took the opportunity to relentlessly set out to devour me.
This week we get to look at how God showed up in the midst of my mess.
In case you missed it, I had gotten to a point of sheer exhaustion and was sobbing uncontrollably. I couldn’t find the strength to pray. All I could muster was repeating Jesus’ name as I sat in my car, completely overwhelmed.
There was a long line of cars leaving the Willow Creek campus, so traffic was a bit congested. In the midst of my sobbing, I was trying to be courteous to other drivers. I knew the enemy would want me to be rude and inconsiderate to others in the midst of my cry fest.
I thought to myself, “Take that. You think you can make me cry without a consequence? I’m going to be super patient and nice to the other drivers.” I let the same car in front of me three times as he kept weaving in and out of traffic only to keep ending up right in front of me. That level of patience can only be from God. It’s certainly not normal for me.
As I pulled onto Algonquin Road, still unable to stop crying, I looked up into the clouds. There was a cloud shaped like an angel with a harp. I knew God was saying, “I’m right here.” I felt a little peace settle into my spirit.
God was well aware the harp was significant to me.
One of the events at the Leadership Summit was an amazing harp player named Michael. I had seen his performance on America’s Got Talent. Seeing him live, rather than on TV, was a completely different experience. Michael had turned the entire church into a harp with strings connected to the balcony seats. It was mesmerizing and inspirational. I got chills all over my arms during his performance.
Here’s a link to a recording. If you ever get the opportunity to see this performance live, I recommend it. Being immersed in the live performance is amazing.
It didn’t dawn on me until just now. Michael. The harp player’s name was Michael. Wow! Anyone know an angel named Michael? At the onset of this post, I already knew God showed up in amazing ways. Come on! An angel named Michael? God is even more amazing than I could possibly imagine (of course). By the way, I am not saying the cloud shaped like an angel was the archangel, Michael. I felt the need to clarify that. The symbolism, powerful symbolism, is what strikes me as – wow!
Let’s look at one powerful Scripture reference to the archangel, Michael, in Revelation 12:6-8.
6 The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. 7 Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough (he refers to Satan, the dragon) and they lost their place in heaven.
Satan lost his place in heaven. As did Satan’s angels. There are good angels and there are evil angels. Michael is a good angel, fighting on our behalf. Satan has been locked out of heaven – forever.
God definitely came running to me in that moment when I didn’t have strength, and He just reinforced that to me in a bigger way than I even knew.
While seeing the angel shape in the clouds made me feel better, I was so very distraught I needed more comforting. The Comforter sent more reassurance my way.
I turned on the radio to K-Love. I couldn’t think anymore. I just wanted to listen to some music and decompress. I started to relax as I numbly nestled into the music. I didn’t register the song. I didn’t have any brain power left to analyze a lyric. All I knew is I was starting to feel more at ease and more myself.
K-Love played that song back-to-back. I have never had that happen before. As I settled into the same song for a second time, I knew God wanted to drive home these lyrics to me as I drove home with Him.
The song was soothing my soul. I jot down one of the main lyrics, so I could look it up later when I had more stamina in me. For now, I was just thrilled that God was there. I knew it. I was feeling so much better and was flooded with relief that the tears were starting to subside.
The song was called, “Promises” by Sanctus Real.
The song keeps repeating the lyric, “Hold on to the promises”. It’s as if God was saying, “Don’t let go. I’m right here and I’ve got you. Hold on to those promises you’ve read about. You know who you are. You know who you are to me.”
When I went back and looked at the lyrics the next day, I saw the lyric that talked about when you don’t know what to pray and I thought, that’s exactly where I was at.
Definitely, I felt weak as this song states. God had used this song to remind me that “if God is for us who can be against us?” As the song says, and the Promise in God’s Word states, “I can never be separated from the eternal love of God.”
These reminders were sent to me from God that the enemy doesn’t stand a chance against HIM. Thank you, Jesus, for driving that point home through the lyrics of this song. (I’ve included the lyrics at the bottom of this blog post if you want to see them in their entirety.)
Even the lyric about God holding back nothing that will heal me resonates with me.
Obviously, God allowed me to experience getting upset at the Summit. He could have sent someone “to my rescue”, but He didn’t. He allowed me to experience feeling alone in a sea of people. I don’t know for sure, of course, but it feels like God wants me to have a stronger sense of who I am without relying on the safety net of others. I think He would love it if I could get to a place where I feel a strong sense of security in Him, so I wouldn’t feel insecure about me.
I think He desires to help me grow a thicker skin – quite possibly (and terrifyingly) because I might need it in the future. Right now mostly friends read my blog. What happens when people who don’t know and love (or at least like) me start reading my writing? I am bound to encounter people who don’t like me or my writing or my freckles or the way the wind blows. God needs me to toughen up.
Another way Jesus came running to me at the sound of His name, came in the quiet reassurance He brought after the song ended its second time around. Jesus reminded me that the mere fact the enemy came so hard against me demonstrates that I was smack, dab in the middle of God’s Will for me. God wanted me there at that Summit, and I think the enemy was shaking in his boots at just what God was going to do in me and hopefully in others I have influence with today or might have in the future.
At a minimum, I felt like I was supposed to share my story and experience. I am not the only one the enemy tells lies to. He lies to all of us.
If the enemy has ever told you, you’re not good enough. That’s a lie. If the enemy has ever told you, no one loves you or ever will. That’s a lie. If the enemy has told you that you need to strive and strive and strive for success in order to be something or someone. That’s a lie. You already ARE someone. If the enemy has ever told you that you are a bad mom or dad. That’s a lie. You’re not perfect, but you love your child and that is EXACTLY what God calls us to do, to love one another. If the enemy has ever told you that you cannot be forgiven for a past sin. That is a big fat lie. Jesus died on the cross for ALL of us, for the forgiveness of ALL our sin.
If my fingers clicking on the computer can be God’s mouthpiece to shine a light brightly on the enemy so we are better equipped to use the tools God gives us, well I’m going to do it.
God didn’t give me (or you) a spirit of fear. Oh no, He didn’t! Because I’m a little amped up right now, we’re going to look at the Amplified Version (AMP) of 2 Timothy 1:7
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but (He has given us a spirit) of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self control.
That, my friends, is a powerful statement from our Savior. Bury it deep in your heart. Remember it. Believe it. This one will cut the head off of any serpent slithering your way. As we take out our sword, God’s Word, we arm ourselves for battle. The war has already been won. Thank you, Jesus!
I was thinking we would stop here. However, I think we need to go just a little further.
Saturday. A fresh, new day. I had gotten a good night’s sleep from the intensity of the previous two days. I felt much better. I felt more myself. I didn’t feel distraught like I had. Thank you, Jesus, for the rest you brought me.
Remember the verse we included last Wednesday? Joshua 1:9. Guess what? It was the opening verse to the Leadership Summit. Bill Hybels said leaders need to act in strength and courage just as Joshua did.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.
Be strong and courageous. I can sometimes think, put on your muscles – spiritual or physical – depending upon the circumstance. I used to think keep a stiff upper lip; that makes you strong. Wrong!
Saturday, after the salty tears had settled, God brought me to Scripture about “strength”.
5 A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength; 6 for waging war you need guidance and for victory many advisers.
As we continue to seek God’s wisdom, knowledge and understanding, our strength increases. God teaches and guides us to victory. We are in a battle. God knows that full well. But He is with us to INCREASE OUR STRENGTH.
God used the circumstances at Willow Creek’s Leadership Summit to increase my strength, to help me to be stronger in the Lord.
He did also use Proverbs 24:10
If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!
I didn’t feel condemned by this. Instead, I felt like God was saying “if I am going to use you in bigger ways, you need to not falter in these small circumstances”.
And then, as the Psalms so often do, God brought me to the soothing spot of Psalm 21:1.
O LORD, the king rejoices in your strength. How great is his joy in the victories you give!
Like King David, I was rejoicing when I read this verse. I do rejoice in God’s strength. And I was once again reminded that God gives us victory. I’m going to say that again. God gives us victory!
Surely you have granted him eternal blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence.
Boy did God ever grant me eternal blessings. As I began to feel God’s presence, He turned my sadness into joy. He delights to do that with us.
And this one made me cry …
For the king trusts in the LORD; through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken.
I desire to trust the LORD, but I don’t always live my life in full trust of the LORD. I knew God was telling me to TRUST HIM. God had come running so fast at the sound of his name, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”. He showered me with his unfailing love. As a result I was getting my strength back again. God desires for us to fully grasp His unfailing love for us and to grow us to a place where we will not be shaken.
Verses 8-12 in Psalm 21 talk about the serious whooping God’s going to give. To summarize it, “they can’t succeed”. The enemy cannot succeed no matter what wicked scheme he plots. Thank you, Jesus!
What is God’s Word? A partial answer is: it’s a resting spot for God’s Promises which are revealed to us as we read His Word. Contained within our Bibles are promises left behind for us to hold on to that give us hope, courage, encouragement, and a sense of love – among other truths. God is calling each of us to Hold On To His Promises. He never breaks them.
Think of a lie the enemy has told you. What Scripture can you find to tell the truth against Satan’s lies?
For example, when the enemy told me I had much to fear, God brought me to the Scripture we referenced earlier – 2 Timothy 1:7.
Whatever lies the enemy plagues us with, there is a Truth in God’s Word. Look for the truth you need today.
♪ Lyrics for “Promises” ♪
By: Sanctus Real
Sometimes it’s hard to keep believing in what you can’t see. That everything happens for a reason even the worst life brings. If you’re reaching for an answer, and you don’t know what to pray. Just open up the pages. Let His word be your strength. And hold on to the promises. (Hold tight) Hold on to the promises. (Alright) Jesus is alive so hold tight. Hold on to the promises. All things work for the good of those who love God. He holds back nothing that will heal you, not even His own Son. His love is everlasting. His faithfulness unending. Oh, if God is for us who can be against us. So if you feel weak neither life, nor death could separate us from the eternal love of our God who saves us.