It's 4:00am. I can't sleep because my world's been simply exploding.
Let me just talk about one of the revolutionary things that happened this weekend.
I attended a conference with some of the people from Elijah Rising-the anti-trafficking ministry I'm interning with. I didn't want to go. I didn't even wake up that morning planning to go. I was just pouting to myself because Miss Beth was doing a conference in Lubbick, TX and I wanted to be there and only there. But, the ladies talked me into attending. I went the first night thinking that it would be sort of weird and that I would just go for the one evening. Little did I know it would bring me total freedom.
Among the many things that happened, one big thing stuck out to me. I guess I've heard it many times before. But for some reason, it totally sunk in this time. The speaker was talking about a check engine light in a car. And how a person deals with it in one of two ways. They either see it and stop to figure it out, or they ignore it and pretend it isn't there as long as everything seems to run okay. Most likely because they don't understand it all and they're afraid to diagnose and asses things. They don't want to face the problem. Of course, that's the route I take. In fact, for a year before I left for Houston, my little red 1999 Nissan has had a check engine light on. And there were no good explanations upon examination. It ran fine. So I ignored it. I did nothing. I didn't want to face whatever the problem was. The thing is, the check engine light is a warning signal. It goes off to tell us that something deep down in the flow of the car isn't healthy. And while you can plow forward with the light on and keep going, you'll hurt things in the long run. You see where this is headed, right?
You know that we have some form of a check engine light in our lives or our spirit. And when it lights up, how often do we stop to examine it's cause? Or do we keep plowing forward because we're afraid to face it? I had a big blaring light on in me for several years. Something was never settling. Something was always screaming inside me that I should halt the brakes and pop the hood for a good deep inspection. But I didn't listen. I felt the pressure of making ends meet and taking care of myself financially, figuring out a path and plan because that's normal, and trying to be put together and involved in ministry enough to make God proud. I was utterly exhausted and worn out. I honestly thought that I wasn't allowed to slow down. That slowing down and saying "I need to take a while to breathe and be lost and deeply question what's wrong" is not okay. To me, that meant weakness. Or being a waste of space and time when God needs me to minister to others. Anybody else relating? This problem is why Jesus plopped me in the middle of Houston, Texas before I knew what hit me.
If I would've considered the ramifications of giving up my income (even though it was practically nothing) and car to come live on support in an old church building and tromp all over town alone on hours of bus rides, I would've run the other way. This is NOT what someone pictures for herself, and at my age. But as the year has progressed, I've had my heart opened to the depth of my works-based mentality and wrongly painted pictures of what ministry and serving Jesus look like. It turns out the check engine light is on for a reason. And this weekend the diagnostics team went to work. I realized I have been operating completely on a system of always having a plan or a back-up that I'm considering at every moment in the back of my head. There's hardly a night that passes where I don't lay my head on the pillow and immediately think "I could always go back to _____" or "if things don't work out I will just go _____ and do ______". And I am not pleased with myself at the end of the day unless I've poured myself out hard in ministry.
Elijah Rising's DNA is justice prayer. Surprisingly their success in fighting trafficking isn't usually tied to physically going in and acting at brothels. No. Their heart is to minister to the heart of Jesus Christ-who alone can right all wrongs. This is a wildly new angle of ministry that I have honestly never experienced. To spend the majority of my time and energy ministering to the heart of Jesus? Praying? Praising? Exalting? Worshiping? Loving? Seeking? Learning about? Sitting with?
Being present with Jesus and focussing on Him as my ministry?
"Yes. But how is this doing anybody any good?"
First, Jesus is worthy of ALL honor and praise all the time.
We could never even grasp the extent of that truth.
Second, through prayer and petition we may just move the heart of God and angels. No. I don't totally understand how this works. But it's talked about a lot in scripture. We are called the Children of God and Brides of Christ for starters. That's literal and means we are handed the sword and power of the courts of God Himself. This is something that should be blowing our minds and changing the way we walk and operate in everything. Why we choose living in defeat all the time instead is baffling to me.
Third, the more time we spend on Jesus, the more filled with His heart, mind, and power we become. And then when we interact with others, we are able to much more clearly and effectively serve and minister to them. In so many ways the American Church has got this all backwards. We are taught the urgency of being signed up for enough "ministries" at church to fully be pulling our weight. I used to spend all my time at events. Now I don't even go to church often at all but I spend all my time with Jesus. The more I study and worship Him, the more in awe of Him I become. And out of that, I sense when my bus driver, clerk at Kroger, and coworkers are stressed out or sad and I can stop and offer them the hope I am overwhelmed with. That is justice work. Bringing all things into redemption and reconciliation with their creator. Not beating down doors. But being present and willing to usher people into the Throne Room of Jesus. Facilitating an encounter with Him that will leave them forever changed. THAT is what I want to be about and only about for the rest of my life.