Four years ago, my husband, our four-month-old Noah and I moved from Houston to Abilene. I knew when we moved that doing so would be a sanctifying act in my life. I went to college in Abilene with many people who still live in Abilene, and it was during a very dry period in my spiritual walk. God challenged me during college in ways that I didn't know He ever would. Every time I look back on it, I'm beyond grateful for the hard work He did in me during those days, but I realize that I wasn't the most easy to be around person (this is really severely understated) for those three years. So, coming back to a place where I was going to have to be faced with people and places was going to be difficult. I had no idea what I would find here, but I knew that it was something God called us to. Little did I know, these four years would be some of the most fruitful growth I have ever known. The people I was so afraid of were forgiving, and Jesus was so sweet to bring me back here to see His hand in my life.
During my college days, I went to speak with a man who was very influential in my church during at the time. He also happened to be a counselor. I remember asking him why it felt like God was so far away; why the longing for something more in my life, only to find nothing there? This period in my life was marked by trying to find God, but not being able to find Him where I was used to looking. Turns out, I didn't really know God. I knew a lot about Him. I knew the facts, the stories, the truth of the Word. But they didn't lead me into a relationship with Him. Only He can do that. And, I wasn't seeking Him; I was seeking the things of Him. I wanted the wonderful things He offered, but didn't Him. I wanted the benefits of Him, but didn't want to submit to Him. In His kindness, He didn't let me find Him in the stuff of Him...He wanted me to know more, and only He could have designed me with the curiosity that I have; it's really insatiable at times.
In the time that's passed, I have come to know a relationship with the Lord. During the last four years, the Lord has faithfully shown me time and again how He protected me, my heart and my mind in the decade since my battle to find Him began. I've met some incredible people who have pointed my mind, and my heart, in the right direction along the way. I know that God, though, is the author and perfecter of my faith, and I can see now how He's directed every step that's led me to the sweet relationship that we have now. It's a real relationship; I talk to Him and He talks to me. It's been a sweet time of mutual courtship, and I can honestly say that standing as the bride of Christ in a real relationship with Jesus is the most magnificently miraculous honor in my life. It's magnificent because He is; it's miraculous because I'm broken. Yet, He chose me. Incredible, truly.
One of the things that I've been honored to do for about three years now is sing at my church as a minor part of the worship team. It's allowed me to pray and intercede for people and our church in ways that I never would have known otherwise. There have been some days where miracles have happened, and other days when I'm sure they've happened but haven't seen them with my eyes.
This past Sunday, I woke up with Isaiah 55 on my mind. It's got a verse about the word of the Lord not returning void, but that His word goes forth to successfully accomplish His purposes. While we were practicing for the service, one word kept coming to mind: victory. I was convinced that the Lord would break through for people who otherwise couldn't find the victory they'd been longing for. Depression, addictions and strongholds were going to be broken because of the victory of Jesus. I just knew it. And I prayed. I prayed with a woman in the choir. I prayed during the services. I prayed in the sanctuary before church started, boldly declaring that His words, through song, sermon or scripture, would not return void. I prayed that the people sitting in church would be open to hear what God had to say to them; that He would give them ears to hear. I prayed that people would be able to focus like they never have before, like little laser beams ready to soak up all that God had for them. I mean, I prayed. And I was so excited; it was like I was getting ready to compete as an all-star athlete in the play offs; I was pumped.
And then He did. The service was incredible. God showed up in ways I never could have imagined, and the presence of the Lord was thick. I just can't begin to describe to you how palpable He was. I was sure, at one point during the second service, that if I opened my eyes, I would have seen Jesus, walking around, touching people and healing them in ways that only He can. And, I don't usually consider myself a radical; it was just that amazing.
After the service, people were on Facebook and Twitter, talking about how anointed the service was. And, for good reason; we overcome by the blood of the Lamb (Jesus' sacrifice) and the word of our testimony. I started hearing about gold dust, which has been explained as a physical manifestation of the presence of the Lord. And not just hearing about it remotely, but hearing about it from people like me, who err on the side of skepticism. And, I praised God for showing up. What a mighty God we serve, who is capable of making everything we see, giving people brains to figure out how things work, yet wants to walk into a church service on a regular Sunday morning in Abilene, Texas, and be with His people. Truly, it's humbling, overwhelming, amazing.
In the days that have passed, I've been convicted about how to proceed. I'm a math person, so part of me wants to find the formula that unlocked the doors of heaven and replicate it every Sunday, or every day, for that matter.
Then, I remembered Him. I remembered the dark days of seeking Him, or thinking I was seeking Him, yet being satisfied with the stuff of Him rather than Him. So, my challenge to myself is this: Rachel, don't be consumed with the stuff of Him. Bless Him for coming in tangible ways, bless Him for coming to sit with us while we praise Him. Thank you, Lord, for loving us in spite of our filthy rags that we think are sooooo cool. But, Lord, if we stop there, we've missed the prize. Because, the prize, Lord Jesus, will always be You! Give us the grace and mercy to always seek only You. If miracles and signs and wonders happen, we'll thank You, but let us never forget that You are the creator of all things, we are but dust, and yet You love us enough to come be with us!! Not just at church when we see things that make us marvel, but in the mundane. In the time outs for our kids, in the offices we work in, in the floors we mop. You are still just as much with us there as you were on Sunday. Let us find You, Lord. Let us seek You. Let us see gold dust on snotty noses and dirty dishes, on books we read and on people we interact with during the days. Let us find You in the mundane. Our desire is for You, Lord. Not just the benefits of You. You are the prize, and when we are able to see You face-to-face, we'll wonder at the streets of gold and Your glory that lights our days, for all eternity. But in the dim world we live in now, show us where You are. Give us the grace to see You, the mercy to find You. Lord, You are our desire. We love You. Please, Jesus, don't let us be satisfied with less than You.