THE STRIPPING … or I should say pruning (with a chain saw!)
The Lord initiates change in us by offending the area of our soul He seeks to transform. He does not expect us to merely survive this adversity, but to become Christlike in it.
The stripping process – stripping off the old thoughts, ideas of God, patterns of thinking and behaving takes A LOT of time. The old “layers of the onion” analogy is quite accurate. During one moment at the altar…well before I go there, I must confess that I NEVER went to the altar before this. I was to full of pride and fearful of what people thought. That was one of the things God was stripping off – fear of man. The anointing breaks those yokes and these altar warriors were heavy hitters with that anointing.
Back to that “one moment,” I was being obedient, so I put the mic down, walked down the stairs, stood in front of my friend and mentor (love her!) and said, “I’m here so pray already!” She smiled knowing exactly why I was there. That prayer, in particular, was also a confirming word. She saw chains wrapped around me, keeping me bound, but God was unlocking those chains, one at a time. Confirmation!! From then on I was at the altar, a lot. That chain was broken.
Slowly over the months and then years, God was stripping away what was my old, dead thinking. Actually its call pruning in John 15, but mostly it felt like He took a chain saw to my soul.
Being stripped gets messy, and I was a mess for a while, but at the same time I was also discovering a love that I never knew existed. My heart had been melting, and thus I cried, and cried, and cried…at everything! Some probably thought I’d lost it, but I didn’t care. I walked around with a perpetual “rudolf” red nose and eyes, and finally I just tossed my contacts altogether.
I Hate Change
I’m so glad God rescued me when he did…I don’t know if I would have survived the radical life change that was coming. I hate change; let’s just get that settled first. Give me consistency, even the mundane, and I’m a happy girl.
This change came in the form of loss. Right smack in the middle of my wonderful passionate discovery of God and His love, I was losing everything I knew as my normal, my security, who I thought I was, that I loved….and I was grieving. There are more, but you’ll get it. Let me see…
- My sister (and family) had been called to Pastor a church in of all places Michigan, which rocked my world…I can get all teary even remembering that one. I hated Michigan (sorry folks).
- I was losing my precious mom – her mind closing to who she was (I hate Alzheimer’s!),
- My great boss (the music pastor) and, one of my dearest friends and singing partner also moved to Michigan (did I say I hated Michigan?),
- We moved, another drama filled story, and last but not least,
- We were leaving the church I loved filled with people I loved, which meant:
- Stepping down from music ministry after 12 years, AND since I also worked there,
- Leaving THE JOB I LOVED – I was now unemployed.
I felt alone and in the desert. It was bitter-sweet and confusing. Nothing felt comfortable. In the desert…
I wanted to sing; He said not now and taught me to pray.
I wanted to go back to Egypt; He wanted to release me into a new and Promised Land.
I wanted to eat the fat of the land; He wanted to give me miracle manna from Heaven (His Word).
I kept drinking from my cup of sorrow (can you say discontent?); He had water from a rock, LIVING WATER that never ran dry.
Who was I anyway?
I asked “who was I” because I thought my identity was in everything that was lost…but it wasn’t. I didn’t see that until it was all gone. I wasn’t just Mike’s wife or Karen’s sister, or Mary & Bob’s daughter, a singer on a worship team or in a member in a particular church. I couldn’t hide behind other people or their spiritual lives, which I had been doing for a very long time and God knew it. I was on a trek to find my own identity in Christ alone. My own SPIRITUAL LIFE!
In coming out of hiding, I found who I was… To fall back on another common analogy, it was truly like the “butterfly” coming out of that old, dead, stuffy cocoon. My discovery was just this – I was a daughter of the MOST HIGH, a chosen vessel, loved by God, and in His very trustworthy, capable, and gentle hands.
In hindsight, His way was way more than I could ask for anyway! His way was “INFINITY MAJOR HUGE!” as my nephew Tyler used to say.
Psalm 13:3-6 MSG
“Take a good look at me, God, my God; I want to look life in the eye, So no enemy can get the best of me or laugh when I fall on my face. I’ve thrown myself headlong into your arms— I’m celebrating your rescue. I’M SINGING AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS, I’M SO FULL OF ANSWERED PRAYERS.” YES!
…to be continued. You mean there’s more? Just a little, really. *smile*