It is short. It is sweet. The message I sense the Lord has put on my heart for the church today is:
The world is very united in its suffering right now. Every nation is affected by this virus and every person experiencing the consequences of its spreading in one way or another. Here in Norway we have been under a national quarantine for about sixteen days now. As I wrote in my previous entry, All that is shaken, the virus suddenly changed everything about this season of life for my family and I all in one weekend. The impact hit the hardest that first week of quarantine. Yet as the days marched on without restraint, everything settled into the stillness of my Rock and Refuge whom had never left my side. I began asking God, “What are You doing in the world, and how can I join you?”. This took my eyes off myself and the immediate situation before me, lifting them instead to the One seated on the throne higher than it all. There was this endlessly rich sort of rest that He was calling me and many others into. It’s the kind of rest the quiets your soul while simultaneously awakening your spirit into action. This revelation came as I read through Hebrews 4. A perpetual state of rest, that we should’ve already been living in. In this rest you not only receive, but you have a burning inclination to give. It is here that you find a love that can’t be contained. A love that hits your core so deep and spews out like a geyser hitting the sky. This is the yoke Jesus offers to trade us for in Matthew 11:28. And from the outside, this kind of love looks a lot like raising a flag while running to the front lines of battle. This kind of love activates you. But only if you believe it.
So today, if you hear the voice of God, will you harden your hearts?
The enemy seeks to kill, steal and destroy. But Jesus, the man and express image of God, He came to give us life and life abundantly (John 10:10). We can easily get this twisted and completely pervert our view on the character and nature of God. When the foundation is on unsteady ground, the whole house is unsteady. We need to know who God is, and then we will want to make Him known. Because He is just that good.
I sense the Lord is raising up heroes in the faith. Men and women of valor who have hidden themselves in the shelter of the Most High, and yet are shining so brightly that the whole world can see. They are rooted and established in the love of Christ, and still they will risk it all to carry that love to ends of the earth. They mourn with those who mourn, all while the joy of the Lord bubbles up and strengthens them within. They still themselves when they must be still and yet their lamps do not go out at night. They rest and yet they fight with weapons not of this world.
As I prayed into this, I saw a picture of an American flag with blood dripping off the ends. I sensed from Holy Spirit that this was because the flag no longer flies stagnant on a pole in front of cement walls, but it is carried into battle. I believe the emphasis wasn’t solely on the U.S., but was a message for the church as a whole. The vision went on as I prayed. While many in the world began to retreat from the enemy’s advances, these mighty men and women of valor screamed to their evacuating brethren, “Don’t retreat!” The fear was tangible as thousands ran away from the frontlines of the battle. All the while these heroes in the faith raced forward, towards the front lines as they continued to plead those two words, “Don’t Retreat!” with their fellow countrymen. And if this is starting to sound like a scene from The Patriot that’s probably because Holy Spirit was inspiring relevancy through it. The men and women of valor grabbed their banner, Jehovah-Nissi The Lord-Our-Banner, and ran head on into the enemy’s advancements. As the fleeing soldiers saw the courage and tenacity, saw the Spirit in these heroes, they began to stop running away and turn to follow suit. They were weary, beaten down and close to defeat from fighting a losing battle and yet in that moment as they saw the faith driving their brethren, they chose to believe again. The moment that decision of belief was made, Jesus met them on the battlefield. I saw Jesus kneeling before the weary soldiers and washing the dirt off of their faces. Lord brought rest on the battle field simultaneously as they pressed on the front lines. Soon there were too many to count of the brethren hastening towards the enemy lines that there was no longer a distinction between hero and retreater but they were all one, spearheading the enemy together. And of course from there, we know the end of the story already. We. Won. Read that again. And again. The battle was won. Not because of our own strength or for our own glory, but because of Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith. He is the FINISHER. Ya’ll! The gospel of Jesus Christ is the POWER of God unto salvation for EVERYONE who believes, to the Jew first and then the Greek (Romans 1:16).This is not blind faith, this is real, activated, nation-catalyzing faith!
During this time in history I charge you heroes to stir up the Spirit within and rise up in faith. You have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love and sound-mind (2 Timothy 1:6-7). I feel the Lord asking those of you who have begun to retreat to stop, turn around and pick up your Banner named The Lord. Repent and be refreshed as you believe in the Truth. We have been liberated that we might through love serve others (Galatians 5:13). We must unite not only in our sufferings, but in the reality that is our victory. Press in! For the joy set before Jesus, He endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the Father. This is the same One that we are following after. Raise the banner, rally the troops, and run into the frontlines; the Way has already been made. God has equipped His children for such a time as this because it is to the GLORY of the Lord. The victory is already written.
My head hangs a little as I look down at the dark ground. The first thing I notice is fog curling at the edges of a mirror in front of me, reflecting my old faux-leather combat boots. Behind that small one sitting on the ground, is a floor length mirror reflecting all of me. Beside those mirrors are rows and rows of mirrors encircling me. As I slowly turn around, utterly bewildered, I can see every angle of myself. It’s dark all around what I assume is a room, but I can’t really see where walls would be. It’s all just…darkness? Something like a spot light is shining directly down on me, as if I’m in some teenage clothing store’s dressing room. In fact, that thought brings a flashback to when I was fourteen standing before a mirror not so different from the one in front of me.
In the memory, I was at a local mall with my aunt shopping for new, trendy clothes for my first day at a public high school. I was transferring from a Christian private school, and I was terrified. This was my first time to even try on clothes at a store like this. A dimly lit teenage clothing store with paper thin models in swim suits, loud music, tight-fitting clothes and perfume clouds seeping out of the main entrance. I knew this wasn’t me, but I also knew this was the type of style the kids had at my new school. So here I stood with a size small covering me like a second skin. I refused to go up a size because the thought of wearing a size ‘Medium’ formed a knot in my throat and an onslaught of hot tears. I stared at my reflection and hated everything I saw looking back at me. Two years before that I stood in front of another mirror in a bathroom and thought for the first time that I was fat. This night I was at a twelve year old’s Halloween birthday party in which I made my own cute witch costume. I loved being creative, and honestly we couldn’t afford to buy one if I wanted to. My hair had gotten so long and curly. This was a time in my life where I first felt my body changing, maturing, and thought to myself that I was becoming a beautiful young girl. At the party there was a ton of pizza and I was trying all the different types of it because, I mean-do I even need an explanation? Come on, it’s pizza! But this young boy whom I had a crush on sat across from me, and laughed with a friend of mine while I ate. I smiled thinking he was just saying something funny to me, but then my friend yelled across the table, “he’s laughing because of how fast you’re eating!” It doesn’t sound that sinister, but the thought that food consumption could be something that made others look at you funny hooked a twisted self-image into me that grew into a mental prison over time. That night, at twelve, for the first time in my life I went into the bathroom crying. I looked at my reflection, turned to one side, and sucked my stomach in. I remember wondering if I could manage to stay focused on breathing ,in a way that wouldn’t make my stomach extend in and out while also continuing to clench my abs together, for the rest of the night. No more care-free eating, Lacey, for the next seven years of your life. I was caged inside the self-image nightmare with the name “Eating Disorder” branded on my sticking out collar bones.
So there you have it. Mirrors. And here I was again, standing before hundreds of them, big and small, and all around me. Unsettling. Yet this, I knew, was merely a vision. Honestly mirrors hadn’t bothered me much in a long while. Not since, Jesus crouched down and set me free from my eating-disorder prison at age nineteen. That was almost seven years ago now. Having two babies, gaining the weight, and dropping it in a healthy way was so healing for my soul on top of that radical deliverance as well. Now at age twenty six, food is normal, food is necessary, food is healthy, food is down right delicious- most of it anyways. Truthfully, sometimes I eat too much chocolate after my kids go to bed. Nonetheless the thought of running to the bathroom to purge what I just binged does not ding into my mind like an unwelcome fruit fly. No more starving myself or binging/purging. No, you see, that stronghold of fear of man and self-image has no authority over my life any more. As a matter of fact in this vision right now, the woman looking back at me looks rather ticked off. Hair, a blonde curly mess. Eyes, squinted in frustration. Lips curled in a snarl. Yeah. Okay. I see you.
This entire mirror worshipping, self-image enslavement culture, has been breathing down our necks for too long.
In this vision I am surrounded by every angle of myself, with mirrors yelling at me to criticize myself and step into the psychotic appearance mantra. Whether it’s an eating disorder or the deceivingly simple “just worrying what other people will think” continuous mindset, self-image is a consuming god that wants all of your worship. The only problem with it is, you were never meant to be afraid of man. Engraved self-image is what the media vomits over us every second of every day, but it is a deception. And thankfully there is light in this darkness. If you want to see your true reflection, look into Papa God’s eyes. In the vision as I look at my many reflections, I am filled with a holy anger at the familiar lies coming to choke out the freedom Christ intended for every person to have. I sense Holy Spirit here with me. He puts a baseball bat in my hand and tells me, “Have at it.” I’m filled with anger at that the thought of the countless girls and boys riddled with so much anxiety and fear that they can’t even see reality when they look at theirselves anymore. So many young people afraid to dream big and do what they are passionate about, what they were actually created to do, because it doesn’t fit into the duct-taped success box society stuffed them inside. So many people living every day completely consumed with fear of what others will say or think about them if they make one move that goes outside of the cultural norm. Enough is enough. With Holy Spirit’s words I give it a go. I begin smashing every single one of those self-image mirrors until there’s nothing but dust and fog. No more. The war on inaction has begun. No more sitting idly by while the walking dead roam the earth. I used to be a zombie, until the Cure found me. Jesus. Searching for temporary satisfaction, but now I found the real thing. Jesus. Whether it’s freedom to eat a salad or freedom to eat dessert. Whether it’s preaching the gospel on a stage, or praying for a crippled man to walk on the streets. I’m done worshipping my image and being afraid of man. I’m out here smashing mirrors. And it’s so not about me. It’s about God. And what He created us to have. Perfect relationship with Papa God through Jesus. That’s what you call, life, and life abundant. It’s not about me. It’s about you. God so loved..you. Don’t waste another thought in your mind thinking otherwise. Grab that lie and take it by the neck to kneel before the King on the throne of your heart. Jesus. Watch Him crush that slithering snake’s head before your eyes.
As I stand in this place with a baseball bat still hanging from my right hand, something tightens around my neck. It’s a thick chain that you may have seen a dog tied up with. The mirrors are gone, but now this is closing around my neck and pulling me back. I can’t yell and am losing the ability to even breathe. My nails dig into my skin as I try to loosen the hold on me, but I’m not strong enough. Suddenly I see Jesus standing before me. His eyes are wide and looking into mine. As if talking to a spooked child he gently steps toward me and says, “Put your hands down and let me take it off you.” I relent, and He pulls the chain up and over my head with ease. I can breathe again and I have my voice back. Jesus says, “This chain was shame.”
Shame. It chokes the life out of us. It keeps us silent. Shame holds back confession and stagnates change. It quiets a song and extinguishes a warrior’s battle cry. We were created for open fields with hair flowing in the wind. We were created to dance, laugh, love, scream just because we’re happy, run, skip, climb mountains, do the things, enjoy life with God, enjoy life with people, follow God’s wildest dreams, walk in His power and love. This is the garden that we can return to with Papa God through Christ.
I believe the Lord gave me this vision to identify some strongholds hindering the church in this season. Self-image and the fear of man, along with shame. It could look really glittery and religious. In fact it typically is. Jesus called them a “brood of vipers” when they tried to tape good fruit on their rotten trees. He’s after that heart transformation, that freedom from the inside out. But religion also institutes self-image and fear of man as well. It could look like a really bright and fine thing to quench the Spirit and trade in just an inch of your freedom in Christ to submit to the religious norms around you. Like conforming your appearance, your behavior, your words, and dreams to the degree of what’s acceptable by those around you, to the patterns of this world, is really the ‘right’ thing to do. Maybe it is. But maybe it isn’t. And maybe God is wanting you to let Him break through with freedom and release you into a greater revelation of the knowledge of Jesus Christ. No need to fear whatever mirrors surround you. Holy Spirit is with us, empowering us to walk out the fulness of intimacy with God. Maybe He’s offering you a baseball bat today and releasing you to smash some mirrors or empower someone else to smash theirs. Ask Him. Jesus is so present, so willing to take your shame and give you His inheritance. The First born inheritance is no joke, ya’ll! Let’s press in to God and go after walking out the full inheritance package Christ died for us to have. We don’t worship a dead god, no! Jesus is ALIVE. The tomb was empty. We need to quit looking for Jesus at the grave. He’s not there. Life. Life. He came for life. Let’s embrace it. Let’s embrace Papa God, Jesus, Holy Spirit- three in one. Talk to Him about all things. There’s so much He has for you, you only need to look up.
My little family went on a mission trip to Thailand for six weeks over summer last year. The entire time was challenging and beautiful, life-changing and transforming. Near the end of our outreach, all four of us got sick. It started with our two kids. They spent a few days with a fever that would come and go, sometimes they had stomach problems, but after several days it stopped for them. The following week, Brenner and I came down with the worst illness we’ve ever experienced. It was far worse than whatever the kids had previously had. Our brains hurt. Our eyes could hardly open due to a constant pain behind them. Muscles and joints ached severely. Fever came and went rapidly. Food wasn’t even on the priority list because moving was so excruciating.
I put all of my strength in just living. I had never felt like I was fighting for my life before that. After two days of dealing with this, Brenner and I decided we needed to seek emergency medical care because we sensed that we had something extremely serious. Prior to this happening, we had visited a village in some remote mountains in Thailand where mosquitoes carried disease and illnesses. Therefore we went to the hospital to check ad see if we had anything serious. As if we hadn’t already felt minorities in Asia, we were very obvious Americans in a giant hospital containing nearly a thousand patients from all nations in the Golden Triangle (Laos, Myanmar and Thailand). Everyone stared at us. And yet, I was in such critical condition that I didn’t care.
“Just save me, God.” This was one of the few thoughts I kept on repeat in my mind while hardly being able to speak.
We were directed to a separate wing of the hospital. There a team of Thai doctors made a make-shift office sitting on a table outside the hospital. The sun was blinding and the heat nauseating. Upon looking at us and asking us what was happening, they immediately felt that we had dengue fever, a mosquito borne illness. The skin tests they ran confirmed that Brenner had the illness, and my results were inconclusive. Still, I remember seeing them write a large “D.F.” with a sharpe marker and circling it at the top right corner of little sheets that identified us out of the other hundreds of patients. They were convinced that we had the illness.
Our contact person accompanying us carried these papers from department to department as we were transferred around the giant indoor/outdoor hospital. I write ‘indoor/outdoor’, because many of the waiting rooms packed with sick and injured patients were outside in the heat. The indoor parts of the hospitals also had wide open doors and windows subject to the elements. The entire place was hot and packed with people. It was a hospital unlike any that a Westerner like me had been to.
My husband and I were sent for further blood tests. We had our missions team contact person with us. His name was Jai Jai. He was someone from the same unreached people group that our missions team had come all the way to Thailand to minister the gospel of Jesus to. This man was part of the less than 2% of evangelical Christians within his entire people group. And boy, was he was on fire for Jesus. He prayed and sang worship songs over Brenner and I throughout the entire process of wheeling me around the hospital in a wheel chair and translating to nurses, doctors and other medical staff for us. I was in bad shape, vomiting, drained of color, couldn’t lift my head while lying limp in my chair with eyes closed. I was a sight to behold for the many masses surrounding us in the different, giant waiting rooms. I couldn’t pray much outside of my one internal cry for God to help us over and over.
Instead of praying or thinking, I listened to Jai Jai praying and singing over us. He was going to battle for us against this sickness that could kill us, a sickness that had killed many. We were silent, but somehow, by the grace of God, unafraid. As wild as it might sound, I knew if dying was a part of this, that I had lived my life for Jesus. To live is Christ, to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). That became real for me. And if it wasn’t time for that eternal gain, then I just wanted the medical team to help us get better. Again, this is intense for me to write out, but I can’t tell you enough that the sickness was extremely painful. There was so much we did not know. So much mystery. So there with closed eyes, I gave God my trust, my hope, my life, my husband, my children, my everything. again. and. again.
We went to another office and had our blood drawn. Then wheeled over to another place. We covered so much ground in that hospital. And hardly knew where we were going or what was happening. After several hours of waiting, we were taken to one last doctor.
Jai Jai wheeled me and Brenner over to the new doctor. Brenner was in bad shape too, but not as bad as me so he helped in whatever way he could for me. They helped me sit into the seat before the doctor’s desk. I remember thinking , “Wow, finally some air conditioning.”
She questioned me about the village in the mountains we had been in, and said we had to wait longer for the blood results to come. I remember being on the verge of tears because I didn’t want to leave her office to go back into that hospital crammed with people, sticky with humid heat while also feeling like death. But before I could say a word, her computer made a ding sound. She shockingly announced that the results had just came in. The words that came out of her mouth and then Jai Jai’s translation will remain in my mind for the rest of my life.
P U R E.
Miraculously our blood came back completely pure. Those were the doctor’s exact words.
“Your blood has come back pure.”
They were all a bit confused because our symptoms screamed that we had a mosquito-borne illness, and yet from our blood they could find nothing wrong with us at all. It was a good report, one that we received in shock. God was working miracles on our behalf, but we still couldn’t feel it in the physical 100% yet. I had to stay at the hospital for several more hours to receive fluids. My husband had to return to the place we were staying at in order to be with our children, and Jai Jai had to go back to work but would return to get me after the fluids were done. Which meant I would have to remain there by myself for several hours. I had no phone and was afraid to be alone there but at the same time I was too miserable to protest. I laid on a stretcher in a room with thirty other people. Some lying on stretchers, some were nurses busying about. It was crowded, with no privacy, but it was air conditioned and so much better than the waiting rooms. I tried to will myself to sleep but I was in so much pain that I couldn’t. The fluorescent lights were so bright behind my eyelids, and I shivered despite the heat. I was hooked up to several IV’s. Nurses, doctors and patients spoke and laughed around me in a language I didn’t understand. It was a lot for me. But there wasn’t much I could dwell on or worry about in the moment. I just wanted to live. I did continue thinking that I had no way of keeping track of time and was a little worried about Jai Jai not coming back for me. Slowly the overhead lights began turning off and someone wheeled me out into the hallway where I laid on the stretcher for another eternity, or so it felt. The waiting room was surprisingly empty. This part of the hospital was clearly closing for the day. Several employees came near and talked to one another right beside my head. I had no idea what they said but they soon left. I was a alone in a dimly let hallway. Later someone else came up and took the IV out of my arm and walked away. No one ever told me anything but I wouldn’t have understood anyways. Finally a male nurse or hospital employee came up and began rolling my stretcher outside the wing of the hospital. He took me behind the hospital to an elevator in the back. At this point, after the fluids ran through my veins and hydrated my body, I was feeling a tinsy tiny bit better. So my logic returned to me and I began thinking about everything I had been warned about in coming to a developing country like this. For example, being an American young woman by herself, vulnerable, and without a form of communication. Something rose up in me, a will to live and a fight to be done with this insane situation. Despite my wariness, the man rolling my bed across the parking lot and hospital grounds did in fact take me into another part of the hospital. He left me at the front doors of the hospital’s main entrance. I laid on the stretcher in front of hundreds of people sitting in the waiting room wondering if my ride would know where to find me since I had been moved and the hospital was so big. I waited for a while, still no way of checking or asking for the time. And finally I made the resolve to just leave and walk back to the hotel that our team was staying at. I knew how to get back, but the walk was about two miles and I still felt horrible. Even so, I was done with this situation. So I put my sunglasses on, peeled myself off the stretcher and left without checking out.
Who knew if that was even something that was done here?
I didn’t at the time. I walked back to our hotel in the beating sun with my eyes half closed due to the intense pain in my head. I know now that I wasn’t exactly thinking clearly, but after so much pain and enduring such harsh conditions I was totally done. I wanted it to be over and I wanted to be with my family. Jai Jai found me one block away from our hotel and drove me the rest of the way back. He had to return to the hospital with my passport to check me out and get my medications. What an awesome man dealing with us wild, sick Americans. Still I made it ‘home’ to the hotel with my husband and kids after all of that, and I was pronounced to have pure blood! You would think things got easier. But not quite yet.
Afterwards, recovery was not easy. Despite the good report, our symptoms raged on and the situation remained the same. We practically laid on our backs in darkness for the next two days. As parents, we had to force ourselves to try and get up for the sake of the children, to care for them. And thankfully we had a friend on our team help us a few hours a day to play with the kids, as we hoped and prayed for rest and healing.
On the second day after leaving the hospital, I had had enough of this sickness, enough of crying out to God and seeing the same awful results in front of me. I had so much faith, I loved God with everything in me, I had given up everything to follow Him, literally, and yet we were still so very sick. I began to plan for the worst. I told our team leader that we needed to find a way out of this small village and get to a bigger city with a bigger hospital. I said that we needed someone close to us to come be with the kids, and maybe we needed to be flown back to our home in Norway or even to the U.S. if this sickness went on any longer. We couldn’t take it anymore. The entire situation had become too unbearable. Brenner was in an even worse condition than before, I wasn’t doing any better, and the kids were tired of sitting in our tiny hotel room all day everyday. I felt helpless. I wanted my husband and I to be healed. I felt like a failure. Failure as a Christian, for not having enough faith to be healed. Failure as a mother, for not being able to care for the kids the way I normally would. Failure for getting so sick during a mission trip we prayed for months for. I felt like a failure, for all of it.
The agony of my great weakness and my great need for God came crashing into me in a way I had never felt before.
I laid in bed with my eyes closed, tears seeping slowly between eyelids, hoping for a slumber that wouldn’t come. And so suddenly I felt God lean over me and say, “I am taking care of you.“
I saw the shadow of a figure hovering over me. I heard the whisper. I felt the pressing of someone leaning over me. I’d have thought it was a dream if I could have actually fallen asleep. It was real.
I am taking care of you.
Did I imagine that? How could that be true?
Is this what being taken care of looked like?
I genuinely felt so baffled that God would say such a thing when nothing about my reality looked like care being given. My shock was not malicious, I genuinely contemplated what caring for a child looked like and wondered in what ways this could possibly be that. Still I recognized His voice and I grabbed on to His statement as if it were a rope descending into a dark pit in which I sat at the bottom of. I wrapped this glimmer of hope tightly within myself… and slowly a sound sprang up in the pit.
A distant song began to stir within me like an echo of old. It steadily grew louder and louder, and I soon felt l like I was being electrocuted with the power in the melody.
All my life, You have been faithful.
First, it was just a thought in my mind. But immediately upon thinking it, the truth resonated within me. It pulsated through my bones, bringing warmth into my aching joints. The song pumped with my blood, beat through my heart, and I felt a real revival, from death to life, spark inside me.
All my life, You have been so, so good With every breath that I am able I will sing of the goodness of God
I opened my lips and with a cracked whisper I began to sing this song to the Lord.
As I whispered the song, I actually felt the pain behind my eyes start to fade away. Very quickly I was able to open them both. The pain receded instantly in one eye, and then slowly, the other. The pain in my body began to leave too. Joint by joint. Muscle by muscle. At last, I sat up. I placed my feet on the cold tile floor without any pain in my brain or body and it was then that I realized what just happened.
I was healed.
It was a miracle. A real healing miracle from God. When I was able to give nothing, God came in with everything. He saved me, as He always has. All my life He truly has been faithful. Something about meditating on His goodness in my life, even when I didn’t feel good, even when I could no longer see His goodness, something about remembering His goodness changed everything for me in that moment. He was caring for me as He always has. That was a knowledge that was so above me, I still don’t understand it fully. He is my Daddy, and He is good. Despite what I see, and despite what I feel the goodness of God is a tangible flame of truth that can pierce through the darkest of nights.
I jumped out of bed singing this song, “Goodness of God” by Bethel Church. I was amazed! I began praying for Jesus to heal my husband, who still laid in the bed and then I took the kids to play outside. I could now be outside in the, once excruciating, bright sunny afternoon. While I was out, my husband also cried out to God for healing and he received instantaneous healing as well. We saw God move in a way we never had personally before. We went through our lowest valley, but God showed Himself in so much glory. He is faithful and that is something we will never forget, something we will shout from the roof tops. God is faithful. Trust Him. Believe.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.
John 15:16 NIV
This was a word the God gave my family when we arrived to Thailand, and it remained true through our entire journey there. The knowledge of His faithfulness is one of the fruits that we will carry to the ends of the earth. Be encouraged, friends. God is with you even when you can’t see Him. God is good even when your circumstances don’t feel good. Remember all that He has done, remember His goodness.
Now my family and I are back as missionaries in Norway. We are confidently unsure but unafraid of the unseen journey that lies ahead. We have been miraculously healed and have endured some seriously hard battles. Taking up our cross is not easy but it’s not about us really. All the glory goes to the Father. And one thing we know, He is worthy of it all. Wherever He calls us, however He calls us, He will never leave us or forsake us. He is a good Daddy, and He cares for us. Even in the wilderness. Even in the desolate places.
And that I now know without a shadow of a doubt to be true.
The humming first note in a violin’s gentle melody pierced the car ride home. Home. The low hanging moon snagged my attention as I gazed across the large lake encompassed by small mountains. Home. Where is that anymore? The violin ministered a supernatural song that sounded so like my Dad in Heaven’s voice.
Yes, this is Me.
Whoah. The melody tugged me upward towards that waning moon shining crystalline as it shared the sky with the setting sun. While the notes of the violin increased in a crescendo my heart swelled with inexplicable love. This was a dance between Him and I. I felt the swaying, the climatic back and forth, as I struggled to believe a love so deep.
This is real.
He told me again and again: I love you, Lacey.
He says He loves me because He loves me, because He loves, because He loves me, because that’s who He is, that’s what He does. God is love. The crashing love rolled over me like a tidal wave, sucking the dusty air out of me and flooding my lungs with grace. In a season of mystery where everything feels possible and yet still too good to be true, do I trust Your leading? His reminding of His goodness caressed my brain and dissolved all unbelief. Yes, I trust You with everything I have. The love of God hit me to the core and tore down the lingering belief systems and self-protecting mindsets I had presumptuously left uncharted within. And I felt the peace that surpasses all understanding come in like a wind blowing away the fog. He loves me, and He has me in His hands.
This is wild, right? I’m away from everything I’ve ever “known” here on earth, yet I’ve never felt more at home. Not always physically, but right here in the hallways of my heart, the depths of my soul, deep into the marrow of my bones. The Lord gently leads me on. And as I press in to actually speaking to Him and listening to His response, God the Father, Holy Spirit, and Jesus are becoming more tangible. My faith is more evident to me.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28 (MSG)
Those unforced rhythms of grace made up the very song hitting me within that violin. So here I stand on the edge of the horizon, letting go of myself long enough to be caught in the arms of Jesus- the very surrendering He died to make possible. Though I always strived to, I’m seeing that it’s not so centered on me loving Him as it is foundational to let Him love me first. Every second of every day. To worship in spirit and truth. Love is the key, and there’s an order to it that I just can’t afford to miss: receiving His love, pouring it back to Him, then turning that love towards myself, and bursting it out towards other people (Matthew 22:37-39). A heart tapped into the streams of living water, and from there everything changes.
The soft whisper of my Dad had me quietly grabbing my coat and exiting a morning’s community worship session. Come away with me. It was peculiar to have Him call me away from a moment of praise in the upper prayer room where most of the staff and students at our base were pressing into God. Still His voice was a steady drum beating in my bones. Come away with me. At the bottom of the stair case I put on my snow boats and headed towards the nearest window overlooking the snowy hills. As I beheld the beauty of Norway, I quickly understood why I was being called away from the crowd. With my face against the cold window I could hear the birds outside singing the most beautiful melody. Creation was literally worshipping the Lord alongside us. Once I heard the song of creation praising God, I just had to get as physically close to Him as I possibly could. Which at that moment, looked like me running outside to join the birds. Feet crunching through slush and a chill kissing my face, I stood face to face with the sun, and was wholly enveloped within the chorus of the birds. I stood there, basking in the glory of Almighty. I don’t know how long I stood with eyes closed and heart abandoned in a hidden, secret place with my Dad. The sun had never felt so gentle as it caressed my cheek against the crisp air. The breeze blew swiftly against me and I felt my feet lift up off of the ground; and so, so suddenly.. I was flying. Yes, you read that right. For the briefest of moments I was really flying with God. Why here? This amazing moment, a moment I’ve longed for my entire life, here entangled with the Lord in an icy parking lot. Nothing really mattered, not even my wonder, nothing except this intimacy with the Lord. This secret place, that Him and I share, taken to a deeper place. Meant for only us, and yet also meant for everyone. The great mystery.
The moment my awareness kicked in, time snapped back into place and I was once again standing on my tip toes completely awestruck. Did that really just happen? I could’ve remained there for ages- I yearn to, but class was soon starting so I buried that kiss from God deep within my soul and walked on.
It’s amazing, the love the Father pours out over us. He is so good, so gracious and compassionate. His love never fails, and His mercies are new every morning. Today is the day of salvation. He longs for you. He longs for a relationship; a deep, deep love with you.
There will be no witty blog from me today. Just a simple testimony to the goodness of God, the depths of intimacy available with God. Despite the intense sufferings my family has faced-not only in taking up our cross and moving across the world but also amidst disease coming at one of our close loved ones whom we can’t physically be beside-despite every suffering, the goodness and sweetness of God remains. The love of God is steadfast, and He is completely wrecking with this love. He remains unchanging.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23 ESV
Though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we shall fear no evil for God is with us. We can dance while we cry, we can laugh while we grieve. We can look the devil in the face and remind him that he can never kill us. We get to live forever, with the King of Kings-whom is both Higher than I, and yet closer than my skin. The victory is ours, because of Jesus. And as if eternal salvation wasn’t enough, He wants to relationship with us here on earth now. We can tap into eternity with God right here and now. So good. Just, woah.
To really desire God and God alone; to know God and to make Him known. This has become the song of my heart pressing me on. God is calling you deeper. Are you all in?
What words could capture the longest week of my life? Not even pictures would scratch the surface of the intensity that is moving a family across the world. Still I shall attempt.
Last Monday feels like an eternity ago. My life in America like a dream I just awoke from. And it’s only been five days since our second plane to fly on that day left American soil. From the moment we arrived at the first airport, the wrong one at that, life has been on fast forward. The little moments were baby steps to get us to the next, the goal being…Norway. That goal made the challenges seem smaller and the chaos feel peaceful. If the Lord was calling us to Norway, then we knew we would make it. As our small plane from London to Norway broke through the clouds in descent, my son was giddy whilst beholding the blanket of white across the mountainous land. I’d never seen him so thrilled. Watching him in that moment, I knew something big changed in our family.
I can’t quite put my finger on the shift. Each of us have transformed into a more brighter version of ourselves. Brenner and I, less anxious and stressed. Isabelle, more independent and tranquil. Lazarus, completely overflowing with joy in every moment. Lazarus being our biggest example of this transformation. Before we left the States, Laz was happy and funny. He was relational and smart. But as Laz ran down that staircase out of the plane and jumped into the first pile of snow he could find, something broke off of him. He became free in a way he never had been. And we let him. He is where God has called him to be in this moment. This newfound freedom we each have is what soul rest is; unlike any we’ve experienced.
Of course, we have felt this rest before with in the cracks of time spent wrecked in the Lord. We’ve experienced moments of rest, sometimes hours or days. But this soul rest is new. There’s something extraordinary that happens when you obey the Lord’s call. Is it a releasing or a grasping? Maybe it’s both. All I know is, by dying to myself completely and living my life for the adventure that is Jesus, I have entered some new territory within my heart that I can’t go back from. And it isn’t so much the place, as it is the promise. Though of course this country is beautiful, breathtaking, really. The promise that God is faithful to complete what He began in me (Phil. 1:6); He has plans for me that are good, to prosper me and give me hope for a future. And even greater than myself, that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. He loves the whole world. Fully loving me and also not only me. Yet still He’s willing to partner with me to testify to the world a love that will move their hearts to believe. It’s the gospel, the good news; that though the world seems dark there is a greater work being done behind the scenes, a light so bright darkness has to flee. Jesus, the road that led us to Norway. Jesus, the truth that expels any lie. Jesus, the light that reigns in a season of night.
The cold doesn’t cut us to the core anymore, the sun has pierced through the clouds, and the darkness is dissolving away. Four days here in Norway, and the peace of God upon us has proven for a fact that this is where we are meant to be. For now. So I say to you reader, be willing. And more than that, do the thing. Whatever that thing that God burns within you is…say, “yes”, take the plunge, go to the place, marry the person, foster the kid, support the ministry. Whatever it is, you know the whisper. You know the tug on your heart. Obey the call. Throw off the bushel over your flame and let your light so shine. Because my friend, there are good works that God has planned for you to do. Your works won’t get you into Heaven, that’s what Jesus did on the cross. However, your obedience to shine your light will show the world who Jesus is through you and maybe just maybe give someone that sees you an opportunity to choose to receive that light as well.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Our identity is everything. To get a job, to open a bank account, to drive a car, to travel, to marry, to go to school..literally everything in this world requires identification. What’s your name? What do you look like? Who are you?
You know what you look like. You know your name. If someone asked you to describe yourself you could easily spew out the details without hesitation.
I’m Lacey. I am just shy of five feet tall, twenty four years old, with blonde hair and green eyes. No one could convince me that I’m six feet tall because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am not.
This equally applies in the spiritual realm. Do you want to move forward in your walk with Jesus? Do you want to take the big risks, step out on a limb to follow your dreams for Christ, and run the race set before you with endurance? You must know without a shadow of a doubt who you are in the kingdom of God. If you don’t know who you are then the moment that your identity is challenged by the enemy, you will own the lie that is spoken to you. Just like that your identity becomes twisted and warped by the velvet tongue of the devil. Losing your identity gives way for your assets to be stolen and your credibility stained. Believing lies about who we really are not only holds us back from walking out the holding God has over our life, but it keeps us from cultivating those deep and intimate relationships with God and with people- all of which Jesus died for us to have.
Let me give you an example of what a lost identity looks like.
I was five years old. My parent’s and I were having dinner over at our neighbor’s house. Nearly every time we were at their house my mom continuously scolded me for harassing their dog, but in my child’s mind I didn’t give her advice a second thought. This specific time was no different, and yet wasn’t it so? The adults were talking in the living room while I repeatedly sought out the dog. My intentions were purely honorable, of course, as I simply wanted to love on her- obnoxiously- the way most kids do.
My very first physically traumatic experience enters center stage.
I walked down the dim hallway towards the large Dalmatian, “Lady”. Lady was sitting with her back towards me. Without warning I ran to her and flung my five year old self onto her with a big bear hug. There was an instantaneous bite. The large dog defensively snapped her teeth at me in bewilderment. Just a simple, “back off” move in the dog world, and yet somehow I found that my entire tiny face was trapped within her jaws. It happened so fast. And then the screaming ensued. Oddly enough I do not remember the pain as much as I remember the look on everyone’s face as the beheld the wounds all over my face. I felt ruined. There was so much blood everywhere, I remember that too. And the sheer panic in my parent’s voices as we sprinted out of the house, ignoring the shocked faces, and piled into my dad’s single cab grey pickup. Once we speedily arrived at the nearest hospital, my mom lifted me up out of the front seat and gasped at what she found. Not only was my face near shredded, but I had a gaping hole between my neck and my chin. The pain eased as shock took over and we waited to be seen by a plastic surgeon. I remember my mom made a point to keep me from looking at any mirrors or windows that we bypassed. Yet still as we moved into a new room, I managed to catch my reflection in one. Terrified of my own face would be an understatement. For the first time in my short life, I can recall feeling truly hideous. My identity was captured as shame and insecurity entered into my heart. Thirty-two stitches and a traumatic surgery without anesthesia later, and it was over. But the soul wound remained and shaped who I began believed I was.
Fast forward to a several months and one birthday later, six year old Lacey’s wounds healed and life went on. I loved school but soon found that I really struggled with reading. It took me longer than it took the other kids. So my mom would work with me after school every night. I’d come home from school, sit in my dad’s recliner with the small booklet of short words, try with all my might to read, and just cry. I didn’t have any progress at all. I felt in adequate, like there was something wrong with me. It was tough on a little five year old’s heart who just couldn’t get it.
And then out of no where on one seemingly normal day, a miracle happened. My parents were playing in my room with me, and amidst the playing I picked up a Bible that was sitting within the jumble of toys on the floor with us. I looked at the first sentence and I simply began to read:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Even now I can still hear the way my sweet kid voice sounded as I spoke the Word of God with such clarity. I can still remember the way my heart beat out of my chest as I read my first sentence. And I can still see the look on my parents face as they saw me witness my first miracle. In that brief moment following, the hum of silence in the air was electric with awe. It was in that pocket of silence, before my parents flipped their lids with excitement, that I remember hearing God’s voice for the first time. He whispered to me,
Lacey, you are special.
Merely writing out the one word, special, doesn’t quite capture all that God said to me in those four words. Yet my brain can’t quite describe the heavenly encounter so well in human words. When God whispered that to me, I felt more than a thousand affectionate words from Him. Special meant beautiful, it meant I had a purpose, and it meant warm. I didn’t know much about God then, but I knew He was real, that He loved me, and that He’d chosen me. At the very beginning of my life the enemy attempted to steal my identity, kill my confidence, and send me down a path of destruction, and yet in the wake of such attempted tragedy God spoke my true identity in Christ over me. How sweet is that? He does this for all of us- this light in the darkness, also known as the Man named Jesus in whom all truth resides; we only need to have eyes to see and ears to hear.
“and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Matthew 3:17 ESV
Brothers and sisters in Yeshua Jesus the Messiah, receive that identity affirmation from your Heavenly Father today.