How is the way you relate to God different now, compared to the past?
For me, it was really performance that God removed from my life. There was no room for it anymore! It was kind of like the life got squeezed out of performance; there was no capacity to move in it. No air got to it, so it died. It was all encompassing. The condensed way of saying that is that now there is less performance in how I relate to God.
During Inheriting the Nations School (INS) I was confronted with a lot of performance-driven habits in my life, but I think the biggest thing I was confronted with was all my stuff. It sounds very broad, but honestly I felt like a terrible person. There’s no other way to put it; I was confronted with my terrible humanness. It all came to a head when I just had to release it and sit in it, and God met me there. He met me in that place of feeling like a terrible human being!
You can’t really hide in that place; you can just be yourself and eventually you realize, “Oh, I can just live like this all the time, I guess!” It’s not all big special moments; it’s just everyday, being yourself with God. When you’re at INS, for example, you don’t have any of your normal routines or your normal ways of coping. For me, it was the first time I wasn’t able to escape the gravity of my humanity.
Mark Head (International Director of Father Heart Ministries) draws this picture at some of the Father Heart schools. He draws the human heart, and then he draws segments in the heart that are hardened. And as God’s love pours in, those segments soften and your stuff comes out.
I think we often wonder, “If I have received this love of Father, then why do I still have this crap coming out of me?” And the reality is: because it’s only the beginning! I won’t be changed overnight. It’s the realization that love is transforming me constantly.
Love works its way deeper and deeper, down into those concrete levels of my heart; it’s stage by stage. Back then I had no idea what was happening to me! I just felt so broken; everything messy was coming out. It’s so easy to trace it back now and see what God was doing, but honestly at the time I just felt destroyed.
When that starts happening to you, you don’t always know which way is up and which way is down. The crazy thing is, I actually don’t remember that graphic at all during INS; it wasn’t until a year or so later at a different Father Heart school that Mark drew the heart again. I remember thinking, “Where was this a year ago? It sums everything up so perfectly.”
The biggest thing for me was literally getting to this point of saying yes to marriage. I used to live in constant fear of making a wrong decision, which was all related to my performance. Now I’m learning to trust my own heart, because I know that God is good and He lives inside of me. At the end of the day, even if I make a mistake, it's not going to take me out.
I think that’s where I used to live before...thinking, “If I don’t make this decision perfectly, I’m going to screw everything up.” There’s freedom to make mistakes now! But now it’s not really about mistakes anymore. Because, is it really a mistake?
I feel like my brain and my heart have been rewired significantly in the last couple of years. So with that knowledge - freedom automatically happens! I’m no longer riddled with those questions of, “Am I making the right move?” or “Is this the right time?” My entire life has become much more of a symbiotic relationship with God.
Where do you see God at work right now? What is He doing in our midst?
I think within community is where I see God moving the most; it’s in people’s hearts, He is moving so we become freer. I feel like there are huge shifts going on in the spiritual realm.
At the level of UChurch, it feels like things are being condensed down. It’s similar to my own journey, where - using performance as the example - things are getting peeled away from us. In that process, everything is getting condensed down.
There’s a core group of people who, despite the difficulty (and the beauty) of this season, are still seeing the hope in it. Those are the people who are forging forward. I think it’s also fair to say there are some people having a really hard time with the condensing that’s happening.
There are some people who are kind of in the middle, taking it day by day. And then there are people who are super joy filled in the midst of it all, and they are kind of the light at the end of the tunnel for the rest of the community.
I feel like personally, I’m more on that end of it all. I think God is calling me to be a steady voice in it. It’s not like I know everything, but as I walk through my stuff, or reflect on the things I’ve already walked through, I can be a shoulder to lean on for others who aren’t doing so well.
In UChurch there are lots of individuals coming around and supporting those of us who are struggling; this has been going on for years! It’s important to come alongside and say, “You know what? This isn’t the end; it’s just the beginning of something new.”
In the end, it’s the same as anything else I’ve found in my life: when God is coming into a bigger reality, there will always be things that just need to die. They just need to be wiped out, or you won’t be able to see the fullness of what God has.
Coming out of INS, I really wrestled with the concept of whether or not I could trust my own heart. How do you know that your heart is good? The crazy part about religion and implementing religious rules is that you end up stifling yourself. You literally stifle your own heart! In my case, I ended up not knowing what I wanted in life. I had no idea what my heart was telling me. I was so used to being told what I needed to do, that I didn’t actually have to connect there.
But I’ve discovered that’s the main thing in this whole journey; God is bringing us back to Him within our own hearts. He lives there, constantly! So we can trust Him to move or to be still as He sees fit. We have been given all these other incredible tools: our brains, our emotions, and so on. But, He is using our hearts to draw us towards Him.
What is He doing in your heart now?
I feel like God is taking me on a journey to answer the question: what does covenant look like? I obviously have a big one [marriage] coming up in my life, but it’s on an even bigger level. Now that I’m stepping more and more into who I am as a son and daughter, I’m asking, “What does covenant look like in that place?” “What does living that out look like?” I think the biggest thing is inheritance.
How do we actually step into our inheritance? Or into these words God has spoken over us? Some of the words and promises have only come to our attention now! There was one speaker at INS who talked about stepping into our inheritance; she was this cute older Scottish woman, Helene. I’ll never forget how she said it: “You step into your inheritance – literally, one step at a time.”
So whatever it is that God is placing in front of you: all it takes is faith. But I’ve found that faith is actually kind of difficult at times, for me. Yet faith is the central thing. Sometimes I really wrestle with how to get faith like that? Or wondering when faith becomes a substance of reality?
I remember James Jordan saying that faith comes by hearing the word of God. So sure, that’s the bible; that’s all true! But it also comes in the moment of spirit touching spirit; that’s when it becomes substance. Honestly, that’s how most of my time is spent with God these days. How can I receive this substance? It’s no longer just an exchange of words or a quick prayer so I feel better in the moment. It runs so much deeper; it is literally gleaning faith from God’s words to me.
It’s actually kind of intense, when you really stop and think about it. Yes, there’s an exchange in relationship with God, but I also think that there is an impartation from just being in His presence. You don’t have to strive for it! Like, what?! I don’t think my mind could have even grasped this a few years ago. Not that I’m necessarily fully “grasping” it now, but it’s in my midst. I find it so incredible, this shift.
For most of Christian history, despite knowing that God is inside us, there’s way more focus on God all around us; God on the outside of us. So of course, people feel like impartation is an external thing! But, if God is truly living inside us - then He is imparting directly into us, directly into our spirits! I think out of everything that may be the biggest shift of all: going from the external to the internal.
“God’s spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are” Romans 8:16 (MSG)