“we’ve given up being accepted- we’re the rejected, who embrace our rejection,
the world can go their own way, we will run straight to the flood,
long live the rebels, we bleed a different kind of blood”
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“how ARE you?” my hands were cupped around a warm porcelain mug and my eyes looked quizzically up the semi-familiar face of an old friend.
his answer was brief but vague and my heart ached while he spoke- it was plain as day that he wasn’t happy and as he spoke it became more apparent that his days were filled with career chasing. “well i’ve got to go – i’m headed to grab a large glass of wine before they close the bar.” and with a flourish of his hand, he was gone and my head was left spinning.
4 years ago. summer of 2012.
after a spring of being carried along by choices that were not wise and giving myself to some relationships that were not healthy, God stopped me in my tracks. “this is BULLSHIT” my friend spat, sitting across from me under a small tent. my eyes flung open wide as i looked up at the person who i never expected to cuss at me like that. the shock factor worked and he had my complete rapt attention. “what do you mean?” i whispered, my fear had me shaking and you could hear it in my voice. his voice softened, but his expression did not- “Liz, you can’t let your emotions drive you like this. you can’t keep letting this destruction rule your life. you need to FIGHT for more. when you hear this crap in your head- i want you to fight back. scream and throw things if you have to, but whatever you do– stop letting satan get hold of your mind. i promise you that he has nothing good planned for you if you continue with these patterns.”
it was a conversation that was very hard for me. i walked away challenged with my tail between my legs- convicted beyond belief that God wanted more from me in ways i was not ready to let Him work. my friend dropped me off back at my hotel and since my roommates were already asleep- i spent the next 2 hours, sitting in the hallway, avoiding drunk people and scribbling in my journal with my music on as loud as it could go. i meticulously recorded the conversation i had, and added the words God had specifically spoken to my heart that no one else knew. that night, i crawled in bed knowing i was facing down a decision- a cross roads. in my mind, there was no other option but to run straight to the path God had laid out before me and after barely sleeping 3 hours, with coffee in hand, i threw myself into the morning’s worship session. God wanted me to give up some things. i didn’t know if it would be for a season, or if it would be forever. in that moment, all i knew is that those things were separating me from Him and one in particular had become a huge lordship issue. that morning, at the altar of my pride, with tears streaming from my face, i let go of what He asked me. dropping my grip on my life- i told Him, “okay. You can have me. i have no idea what this means and if i will ever have people love and care about me again if i let this go, but i know what You are asking and so i’m choosing to let go and yield myself to You instead.” in that moment, my heart broke and shattered into a hundred thousand pieces. i died that day, in many ways.
for the next three months, i didn’t listen to any music or hardly talk to anyone in my group of friends that had replaced my family. i know some people were hurt by my actions and i wasn’t even at a place where i could explain to them what God was doing, because i wasn’t sure myself. every waking moment of my days ached and at night i could barely sleep. eventually i began making small choices that have completely changed how i relate to God. when i was in the car driving to work (or to anywhere), since i didn’t listen to music anymore- i had the perfect opportunity to have conversations with Him and spend time in prayer. the nights when i didn’t work or have plans, i would open my laptop and spend time with God while listening and worshipping along to the IHOP prayer room broadcast. in those days, that live web stream was oxygen to my soul in ways i didn’t appreciate. there were times i spent more hours of a night in the Spirit and with God in places that make no sense to natural humanity than i did with other humans. i began giving more of myself to things God spoke to me. He started speaking to me VERY strongly in a prophetic nature- showing me things about people, places and situations. anytime i would tune into His frequency, it was like a bombardment of information to my heart.
six months of this season would pass before any change would occur.
then suddenly, it was February. i found out my friends were on tour again and would be playing a show within 2 hours of me. my boss approved the time off for me – and there was a crazy freak snowstorm. but that day was deep grace to my heart. 8 months since i last spoke to/ saw these friends and it was a gift that they opened up to me like nothing had changed, nothing happened. we hung out and laughed at random jokes while video games were played. there was a new light in my eyes. that evening, unexpectedly- God spoke to me to pray for my friend before they took a small stage at a venue with very minimal attendance. shaking, i agreed and quietly made my query to my friend, “hey i feel like i’m supposed to pray for you right now- would that be okay?” and with a deep humility, my friend nodded and agreed, much to my surprise.
that night, something in my character shifted. i began to understand bits and pieces of myself that i never before saw. God began working a boldness in me and making me into a person that obeyed Him without questioning (…okay most of the time). there was this deep development of my relationship with Him that i fully believe would never have occurred had i continued in the friendships and life patterns i was in before that July.
the miraculous part about God is that He restores the things that are important. the family i had found in beautiful friends was restored and increased. my relationship with Him increased and flourished. for the first time since i moved to Kenosha, i became invested in my church family and grew some deep roots of foundation and truth that have changed who i am. it’s a miracle because that July when everything in me shattered, it was God breaking a shell around me of darkness that i didn’t know had been smothering me. in His deep compassion and kindness, He knew the blow of loss and laying down would ultimately be for my good. (Romans 8) Looking back, i’m overwhelmed with the gentle and kind hand He used to shake me, break me and restore me.
——back to present——
after my friend walked away to obtain the aforementioned wine, my heart ached and broke. our conversation was dripping with a bragging of accomplishment on his end and when he asked if i still attended the same church- i could feel and hear a strong disdain on his part. “yeah i was there for a few months, but it was too weird so i left.” nodding, i understood. though i was saddened that someone i once cared about deeply was lost in the darkness, i was also more thankful than ever for how God had pulled me out of darkness and dropped me straight into a blinding, dazzling measure of His light.
the times when i’m overwhelmed by how holy He is, and how much i’ve fallen, my prayer is that i will remember that He is light and no darkness is in Him. in the brilliance of His perfect light, no darkness can hide and no lies have any foothold.
friends, there is hope for the ones we love- for the broken, the hurting and the tragically lost. the longer i walk with Him, the more and more convinced i am that God can save anyone, that He can use anyone. in surrender, we are all clay in the Potter’s hands.
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“And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”
-Romans 8: 2