show me your glory.

I’m taking a Sacred Scripture class this semester and one thing I have learned is that the Old Testament Israelites make me cringe.

Man, they are ANNOYING. All they do is complain. They spent a butt load of years enslaved to a foreign people in a foreign land and God not only delivers them, but does so in a super dramatic way. They have God literally give them food and they complain about how they’re sick of it. And then, even though they have seen God’s mightiness at work, they decide to build their own powerless god to worship in order to excuse their sin. I’m pretty sure that a solid twenty-three percent of the Old Testament is the Israelites grumbling about how they’re just done with life while God pours out blessings upon them.

These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of insanity. I’m over a thousand miles from home, surrounded by new people, in an academically rigorous envirnement. Coming off of a summer serving the youth as a missonary at Catholic Youth Summer Camp, I cannot imagine not living a mission focused, Jesus centered life. But what does that look like here? I look around and see so much lacking.

But I serve a God who lacks nothing. God, who is limitless in what He can do, is in love with me.

I have been looking around the past few weeks and seeing a blur of faces. I have been overwhelmed. I have cried. I have wondered why I am here, what God wants me to do. I have seen this impossible challenge that God is presented me with…to bring revival, to love.

I see this huge cross, this huge, messy mission…and I have collapsed under its weight. It’s like I’ve been trying to use as minimal amount of muscle as possible in order to carry it…I’ve been dragging it up this mountin, barely moving inches. I’m already bloody (emotionally) and sweaty (literally; it’s Florida, y’all) and I have four. more. years.

As I have been spending so much time contemplating the hugeness and impossibleness of this cross, I’ve been brought back a couple months ago, to camp.

It was the middle of the first week of camp and I was so done. I had been gone from home two and a half weeks already, due to training, and I did not think that I could handle any more. I felt completely unequipped and inadequate.

I remember during adoration Wednesday night I could not stop crying. I was shaking with fear…I kept seeing this cross that Jesus was trying to give me and I did not want to accept it. I knew that it meant sacrifice, I knew that it meant I would have to die.

Not your will but mine be done, basically.

I went up to a fellow missonary and said, “Jesus wants to give me this cross…but I can’t take it. I don’t want it, I can’t do it! It hurts so much!”

She prayed a prayer of surrender over me, renouncing fear and the lies that I was not enough. She told me that I was loved, that I was not alone and would not be abandoned. She spoke into my gifts, into the fact that I had a place there building the kingdom of God.

I received so much grace through that prayer. Jesus just kept offering me that cross…and I said yes.

Peace instantly flooded my soul. Conviction that yes, I was worthy of being used, and yes, Jesus can use me, and yes, Jesus is with me claimed my heart. I realized that it wasn’t even me carrying that cross…it was Him. Jesus was simply inviting me to be with Him.

Even though nothing about the situation itself had changed, everything changed. I had renewed passion and zeal and confidence that my God was going to work miracles and wonders. Not only that, but He was going to use me to accomplish them.

No cross could possibly break someone who Jesus is wholeheartedly and irrationally in love with. The only harm that it can do is conform my will to His desire.

It’s amazing what my “yes” resulted in, by the grace of God. It HURT and it was HARD, but when I think of this summer, I don’t think of the late nights, emotional exhaustion, or hard confrontations. I think of the letter I recieved from a camper who told me that my talk on identity changed her whole veiw of herself, who finally believed that she was enough. I think of when a camper defeated fear and finally stepped off of the zipline dock after standing up there a solid twenty minutes. I think of the group of girls who were empowered to go home and meet with their pastor about starting weekly praise and worship to bring revival to their parish.

These glory stories, and so many more, far outweigh any pain that may have been present. Without that pain, the glory would not have been possible. Think  the pain of Good Friday…to the glory of Easter Sunday.

I firmly believe that there will be souls in heaven as a result of this summer. Jesus used me this summer to lead people to Him.

But here’s the thing: He’s a perfect gentleman. He will never give without my receptivity and He will never take without my release.

I have been consumed by everything wrong, much more than I have been thinking about how God has provided me with this opportunity of going to school here, against all odds. I have been consumed by all of the people that don’t know Jesus as one huge mountain that is so much bigger than me…but actually, this mountain is made up of a multitude of little rocks. They are not just a crowd…they are individual souls.

Back to Moses. In the thirtieth chapter of Exodus, he is interceeding for the complaining Israelites. He’s begging God to be with them, to go ahead of them, to never leave. God assures him that He will never send where He does not also go.

And then, in Exodus 33:18, Moses says to God, “Show me your glory.”

In the midst of all the impossiblitiy and choas…show me your glory.

What if we saw everything as an opportunity to more fully encounter Jesus?

What if we saw everything as an opportunity to glorify the King of kings?

What if this was our response instead of complaining?

Show me your glory.

What if we looked at what was lacking, and it made us excited? Because of how we knew that God wouldn’t lead us here if He wasn’t going to provide, so we got excited for how we were going to see Him work. What if we stopped being so obsessed with our limitations and became enthralled by our God who has none?

The other night, I accepted this cross. I accepted this mission here, this calling. I don’t know what that means, but I do know that I want to be a docile instrument of the Holy Spirit. I know that I want to see God move. I know that He has been begging to use me and I am not going to say no to God, gracious.

God constantly provides for me so beautifully and faithfully. I refuse to be lost in everything that is so seemingly impossible. I refuse to be afraid when I see all the hearts that need to be won to Jesus. I refuse to be downcast and I refuse to be discouraged. I refuse to put God in a box and impose my own limitations on His power.

Impossibilities are God’s specialty. I just want to see His glory. He has done so many wonders in my life, with my life…and He’s not finished. It’s going to hurt, it does hurt, but suffering is nothing compared with the glory of the King that just radiates onto me and through me. He’s living inside of me…what do I even have to fear? He is protector, provider, and deliverer.

I’m expecting the unexpected. Show me your glory, Jesus. I am not afraid.

 

deeper than my feet could ever wander.

It’s been two weeks since I arrived on campus. I’m convinced that it’s actually been eternity…or perhaps just a couple of seconds.

I don’t know why I am here.  I don’t know why this is the school, or these are the people, or these are the classes. I don’t know why this is the call.

I do know that I have been overwhelmed. I do know that there have been moments that I have wished that I was somewhere else. I do know that I’ve asked “God, WHAT are you doing?” a couple hundred times.

Speaking of things I say to God. Here are a couple of other phrases:

“I want more, Jesus.”

“Let me pursue you with everything I am.”

“Draw me nearer.”

“Take me deeper.”

Here’s the thing about God. You ask, He gives.

I go to an incredible school, but I look around and, just like everywhere else, I see such great need for revival. A lot of revival. I see men and women with broken images of themselves, having placed their identities in each other, in worldly success, in their pasts, in their futures.

Part of me wants to take them all and hug them and give them chocolate chip cookies. I want to look into their eyes and tell them, “You. Are. Good.” I want to hear their stories, I want them to know that they are perfectly allowed to feel the things that they feel. I want to tell them that they are loved unconditionally. I want to show them what that means.

Part of me wants to go hide under my bed and never talk to any of them. I know that people are messy. Sometimes I don’t know what to do when hearts are handed to me. I get caught up in the chaos of emotion. Things are so much bigger than me.

Take me deeper.

Deeper than my feet could ever wander.

I am currently so out of my comfort zone, out here in the deep. My heart longs for somewhere else besides this campus…and yet, here I am.

And here God is.

All those times that I have cried out to Him…sometimes consumed by love, sometimes consumed by myself, sometimes consumed by peace, and sometimes consumed by frustration…He heard me.

He is taking me deeper.

I look around and I am overwhelmed. I walk the streets of this campus. I see the scars, I hear the hurt.

He has cast me out into the deep. Just where I asked to be.

I didn’t know any of this was possible. The mission that He has presented me with– to share truth in love– is not something my feet would have wandered into. But, here I am. God has led me here and given me the grace to follow.

But He is so good and He allows me to turn around, if I want to.

Sometimes I want to. It’s exhausting when you’re trying to save the world and you feel like you need to take on everyone’s burdens. Only, that’s not what God is asking of me.

He’s telling me that He is already victorious. He’s telling me that He has already saved the world. He’s telling me that He carries burdens. He’s inviting me to lay down my exhausted, frustrated, overwhelmed heart…and He’s inviting me to simply dance with Him on the battlefield.

The battlefield. To me, it’s actually on the water, in the midst of a horrific, violent storm. But Jesus just keeps telling me…”Fix your eyes on me, only me.” Just by doing that, just by being captivated by His gaze, captivated by His presence I will accomplish His will.

I look around and the waves are enormous and I cannot even see the shore. I have been following God and He’s been leading…and here we are. Deeper than my feet could ever wander.

I am in the deep. Yet, I am not alone…here He is with me. Take me even deeper, Jesus! There is no place that I would rather be. I am not turning around.

This is the place for miracles. This is the time for wonders. Let’s do this.

all things new.

I have been struggling with words for the last two weeks.

How could my words describe this summer? How could my little words convey the victory that was claimed in the lives of over 1200 teenagers? How could my words accurately present the intense love of a mission focused, Jesus centered community?  How could my words capture the complete freedom that I have experienced, that I have stepped into?

When I think of talking about this summer, passion strikes my heart. What happened this summer at Damascus is not meant to stay at Damascus. My heart is convicted that I have been commissioned to share what went down this summer. Words, however, are so frustrating and intimidating.

This summer, I served as a missionary at Catholic Youth Summer Camp, which is located at Damascus Catholic Mission Campus. CYSC is a high adventure camp for middle and high schoolers that strives to equip kids to “live the adventure” of a relationship with Jesus in their daily lives. This is done through a variety of high adventure activities, men’s/women’s sessions, mass, Eucharistic adoration, praise and worship, and more. I was on Program Staff, so I was basically a facilitator/leader of a lot of these things.

There were so many times this summer when I would be so overcome with emotion. Oftentimes, I would run to a fellow staff member and just be like, “AHHHH! All of the things are going on and I don’t have the words!” She, however, being the rock star that she is, wouldn’t let me off the hook. She told me that I did have the words, and to just speak.

Weeelllll. THAT is scary. Mostly because I don’t know what is going to come out of my mouth and I hate not being in control. But, because I know this amazing woman loves me, I let the words come out. Again and again.

That’s the thing about words. Speaking isn’t just a one time deal…you kind of have to keep doing it.

But here’s the other thing: I’m not in control anyway, so I might as well surrender my illusion of control.

There was one night when I was walking with one of our camp directors and we had been talking about the difference of having self-driven spirituality and Spirit-driven spirituality. Camp is the best because you don’t have the time for intense one-on-ones so you literally have them on the go. For example, we were headed to start set-up for our Freedom Fire when BAM, my life changed. Also, life change at camp is an hourly occurrence. But it’s just super awesome because God isn’t constricted to working an hour on Sundays, or during praise and worship, or during a talk. He worked in my life as I was exhausted and carrying tiki torches and walking the treacherous, rocky roads of Damascus.

Anyway, as we were talking, I mentioned that I was a control freak. His response? “You’re not a control freak, Annie. You are a daughter of God who maybe has tried to control things, but you are not a control freak.”

You are a daughter of God. The truth of his statement slammed my heart, hard, shattering lies that had been spoken and believed.

Next, he asked if I had surrendered control. Begrudgingly, I said: “I surrender my control.”

Tears filled my eyes and he said, “I just felt a whole lot of chains hit the ground.”

That night, I stopped trying to find words for what was going on, because it was so out of control. I felt like I was grasping in a dark hole, reaching for anything. I gave up control of myself…including my words. So often we use our words to paint a nice little picture of having it all together. We string together our words in order to create masks of the illusion of perfection. This was who I was before camp. A daughter of God who used her words to hide, to claim control.

When I surrendered control of my words, I realized that I had nothing. Which should have been one-hundred-and-twelve percent terrifying, but it wasn’t. Because I was no longer desperately trying to come up with words, there was room for God to speak to me.

And here is what He said:

I have made you new. I make all things new. The old has passed away…keep letting it go.

I want to use your voice. You don’t have to doubt what comes from your mouth because it comes from me. You ask why I use your voice…because your voice, my daughter, is priceless. Your voice is worthy of being used by the King of the Universe. You are a worthy vessel.

In me, your voice has authority. Your voice has the power to shatter darkness and cast out fear. Your voice has the ability to dispel demons and raise the dead to life.

Not only did Jesus speak these things to me…but He showed me them. He used my voice this summer to break chains.

How many times did I stand at the top of the zip line tower and have to spend a solid fifteen minutes convincing a camper that he actually did have the ability to step off? God hard core gave me words to encourage because there is no way mine without Him would have been sufficient. So often this summer I declared the words: “You are capable. You are capable. YOU ARE CAPABLE, regardless of whether or not you choose to step off. You are capable and you are worthy of the courage that God is filling your heart with, right at this moment. Receive it!” This not only applied to the camper trusting Jesus when it came to the zip, but also to every other area of his life. Pretty powerful!

So many other examples for so many other posts…but here’s the bottom line: this summer, I received the truth that Jesus has made me new.  This truth infiltrated every part of my life and has changed everything.

He has given me new words and has called me by a new name. Jesus is the perfect gentleman and He won’t take what isn’t given. When I gave Him my control, I also gave Him so much room in my heart, which gave Him even more room to work wonders. The wonders that He worked this summer…absolutely overwhelming. Stay tuned.

Y’all, your words have authority in Jesus. You can allow yourself to fall apart because He will hold you together. He will make you new. Actually…look at a cross. He already has.

I have authority in Christ Jesus. I am a worthy vessel. I am a daughter of God. My words matter, and I have something to say…God has something to say. And He has chosen to say things through me. Because I am a worthy vessel.

I don’t care where you have been or what you have done…nothing changes the truth that you are a worthy vessel. God wants to use you to speak life in the face of death in your family, school, community…He will give you new words. He wants to use you to bring truth to those destroyed by lies. Every day, I have to renew that surrender of control…join me.

I surrender control in the name of Jesus…Lord, you have everything that I need, more than I could possibly want. Do whatever you want to. Use me.

One last note– He like really wants to use you. And when Jesus really wants something…y’all had better WATCH OUT! He’s coming for you!

More to come. What a time to be alive.