God speaks. If we learn to listen.
First I need to tell you a little backstory. I have a little white board hanging up in our kitchen where I write Bible verses that we can work on as a family. I once read that children will be who they think you think they are. So expect them to be responsible and wise. Recently, instead of a Bible verse, I wrote something that I hope will speak life into my children. My prayer is for them to make good choices, and to make God proud. I posted this picture on Facebook.
(Aaaand, backstory complete!)
So, a week ago I went to a women’s conference called IF: Gathering. The main event took place in Austin, Texas, while women gathered in locations all over the world to watch the livestream and to worship together. I was at IF: Salem, Oregon, with 600 other women.
One of my favorite authors, Jennie Allen, spoke Friday evening. God gave her the dream of discipling a generation of women, and the dream became IF: Gathering. (Find out more at ifgathering.com). Jennie confessed to us that she fears that she isn’t enough. That this dream and this ministry are bigger than she is. She said that God is so awesome that she feels like she has to be awesome too. But she can’t do it. None of us can. Jennie realized God was the one doing the work and carrying out the ministry, and she was just His willing servant. She said she was enough just because Jesus was all she needed.
This really spoke to me. I have all these dreams in my heart of things I desire to do for God. I love the ministries God has given me in this season, but I keep looking ahead. Like I’m always pushing harder and trying to run faster. I love Jesus so much, and I just want to do as much as I possibly can for Him! Yet I fear that I won’t be able to do enough for the Lord. I’m just too small.
After Jennie spoke, the leaders said it was an opportunity for all of us to confess to the Lord some areas where we are struggling. They turned down the lights. They read aloud some things we might need to confess, giving us the opportunity to silently tell God we are ready to turn over those things to Him.
Anger. Fear. Worrying what others think of us. Turning a blind eye to injustice….
I felt such sadness in my heart when I realized how much I struggle with fear. I began to tell God my fears. With tears dripping down my cheeks in the darkness, my heart spoke to His. “I fear that I’ll never do anything important for You. I fear that my life won’t be anything special. I fear that I’ll never write a book. I fear that if other women have similar gifts to mine, I’m just not that special. I’m just so afraid! I just love You so much, and I will do anything for You to prove how much I love You! I’m afraid I’ll never do anything important enough!” And I just cried.
I felt the presence of God in that room. Praise music was playing. There were candles. Some women were singing. “Let it go, my soul, and trust in Him, the waves and wind still know His name…” Some women were quietly praying aloud for one another. I had my elbows on my knees. And I kept my eyes closed, crying, and listening to all these women around me, loving God together. I just felt like I was floating in it.
I thought it was a taste of Heaven.
I just kept telling God how much I love Him. And suddenly He showed me something. I saw Ivy. My daughter. I saw how she runs to me after school to hug me. How she delights in me. How she wants to be close to me. How she lights up when she’s near me. And I realized I never ask her to prove that she loves me. I already know she does. I just want her to be close to me.
And God said in my spirit, “I just want you to be close to me like that. You don’t have to prove you love Me. I know that you do. Just stay close to Me.”
Yeah, so, I was a mess over that. In the best way. I was all weepy and puffy-eyed and so, so blessed. My heart was trying to accept what God said. “I don’t have to be afraid that I’m not special enough. You just want me to stay close to You.”
As if that wasn’t enough, God wanted to be sure I understood. It got better.
My dear friend sitting next to me had been writing something in her journal while all this was going on in my heart. She ripped out a page, and leaned over to whisper in my ear. She said, “God wanted me to write this down for you. You know how you have that whiteboard that says ‘Make God proud?’ God wants you to know this.” God had told her to write:
“You are a child of God. He IS proud!”
Just now as I wrote that I had to cover my face and cry, all over again. Isn’t God amazing?? How could we do anything but love Him when He is this kind to us? He sees each one of us. He knows us. He speaks to us. He provides for the needs in our hearts.
When she handed me that paper, I just sat there with my puffy eyes staring at it. I put my hand over it to make it part of me. To drink it in. God wanted me to know. He IS proud.
No surprise, I cried a lot more. I thanked Jesus for loving me that much. I hugged my friend (and cried), and thanked her for listening to God so I could hear a word from Him.
As our evening came to a close, I kept picturing my Ivy hugging me and snuggling up to me. That is all I need from her. It is where I feel her love. When she’s close. God kept reminding me, “Just stay close to Me.” And I kept feeling stunned. What a gift He was giving me. “Stop trying so hard, Christi. Stop being afraid you won’t do enough. Just stay close to me. It’s enough. I’m already proud.”
When I got home and greeted my family, guess what Ivy wanted to do immediately? She wanted to sit with me on the couch. And as sat there with her against me, as I kissed her hair again and again, God just kept saying to my heart, “Just stay close to Me. That’s enough.”
I had Seth take a picture so I would always remember the beauty of God’s words to me that night.
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” John 15:4