Because of You I freely live
My life to You oh God I give
So I stand before you God
I lift my voice cause You set me free
So, I shout out Your name
From the rooftops I proclaim
That I am Yours…I am Yours
All that I am, I place into Your loving hands
I am Yours…I am Yours
These are lyrics from “Rooftops” by Kim Walker-Smith of Jesus Culture. As they play in my kitchen this morning I absorb them with much heartfelt conviction. As the sun was coming up there was a beautiful pink haze behind the trees in my backyard. Most mornings, from my vantage point, the sky has a silver sheen as the sun rises but today I was pleasantly surprised to see a beautiful splash of color.
I have never been one to get up any earlier than I absolutely had to. I was never one of those people who actually saw the sky change color as the sun came up! In my nursing days when I had to be at work by 6:45 am I must have been much too engrossed in whatever I had on my mind because I don’t remember ever feeling so alive and overwhelmed with gratitude at witnessing the beauty of creation early in the morning. Smile…
All I could do this morning was humble myself before this Creator. There are plenty of folks on my heart to pray for and situations of need around me. But sometimes you just have to pause and be washed away in the wonder and glory of God. Why does the sunrise affect me now? What has happened to me!? Just like those lyrics above…I feel quite compelled to tell anyone who will listen not what, but who, happened to me: Jesus.
This morning I told Him what I know to be completely true…anything good, kind, healthy or fruitful that comes out of my life is Him. Hands down. As I looked out into that morning sky I said…remember what I’m like? How overly sensitive and insecure…how prone to laziness…how conerned with the opinions of others? And I know for sure God loves me completely that way, but how can I convey to you the way it affects my heart to be changed by Him. I’m nowhere near “arrived” and will never be. I don’t really strive for perfection anymore, though. It’s this spectacular journey of yielding that has made so much room for Jesus to rebuild my life and restore my heart! I have grown a bit more gentle, a bit more willing to let someone else have their say, a bit more willing to love the unlovely, a bit more willing to spend my time productively, a bit more willing to forgive, a bit more willing to take chances…a bit more willing…period. Why? Because I grew up in church? Because I am just “special?” Because I go to the “right” church? Because that is my personality? Puh!!!!! Sometimes that kind of thinking is the very problem! As I was sharing recently, a day came when I threw my hands up at trying so hard to become and change…I got sick of the frustration and condemnation that I said enough! I am going to screw up, but I am just determined to know God anyway! What I didn’t know was the journey I was embarking on! I knew God. I really loved Him and lived for Him, the best I could, for most of my life. But that’s just it. I was living for God the best I could. And since I’m quite human, my best was falling short of the experience I so wanted to have with God.
Experiencing God. This is what crossed my mind and heart as I was giving God every drop of glory and credit for any good that comes from my life. And as I humbly told Him how amazed I am with what He continues to do in my heart and life, I sensed His whisper to my heart…I wish all my children would choose Me. In my experience, you can choose to accept Jesus as your savior, yes, but then there is choosing Him everyday and in everything. There is a difference. Often as I write I use the word yield. It is yielding that has produced in my life what I never could with all my trying. And I was trying with a heart to know God. I was trying and failing to know God quite personally but on impersonal terms. God created each of us as unique individuals and He wants to know us each personally. That might not look the exact same for each of us! But what so often happens is someone finds Jesus in a very personal way and then insists that is the way for everyone…God had a lot to do in my life to tear that notion down. No doubt there are essentials to knowing God…reading His Word, talking with Him, obeying His Word and the promptings of His Spirit, etc. But the way in which you do those things is key and quite personal. You may know a spiritual person who prays for two hours everyday and reads the King James version of the Bible, so with the right intentions of wanting God you do what they do…and then it doesn’t work…so you feel like you can’t have what they have.
I write to encourage and insist only one thing! Be real with God! Be yourself! God is so very excited and pleased you want to know Him and He is not making it an obstacle course for you. Don’t try to do it someone else’s way. Often I share the ways I connect with Him, but that is only with the heart for others to see that God will meet you anywhere and anytime. If you are tired of striving and trying with little result…if you will grow determined to know God for yourself…then you will indeed find Him at work in your life in most amazing ways. Jesus will love on you in such ways that you find yourself yielding, or giving way, to His way of living almost effortlessly because it’s God’s strength and power at work in your life and not your own. You will experience this God of my pink morning sky for yourself and when that happens there is no rooftop you won’t see as a platform to shout out His name. Goodness, I scrambled and scraped for most of my adult life! Feeling like freedom from my bondage and freedom to be the girl God made me to be was just out of reach. But that was because I was reaching from the foundation of my efforts. When I’d finally had enough it made room for Grace to simply invade my life. I didn’t know that’s what I was doing! I had no idea! I just didn’t really like myself some days and wanted to change! And you know what? God’s Grace hasn’t given me permission to sin more. His Grace, this undeserved with no measuring stick attached kind of Love, has been the kindle for a fire that burns hot in my life now. Grace isn’t permissive. Grace is the magnet…it’s what draws men and women to God. When the day comes that you realize God loves you that much…when your epiphany comes…Oh. Wow. God just wants to fill me with His love regardless of my efforts or lack thereof…then your life will change. You’ll begin your own journey. A journey that involves more than just choosing to accept Jesus as your savior. You’ll know a hunger and passion on the inside that drives you to choose Him in every way because there is no one like Him. God’s goodness, grace and love will swallow every hurt, every wound, every disappointment, every fear, ever lie and every regret you have compiled. Life will never be the same.
Why do you think some Christians turn into fanatics? I don’t mean the kind on street corners yelling at you about Hell. I mean the kind that eat, sleep and drink Jesus? The kind that may get on your nerves with all of their joy and enthusiasm. I mean there are lots and lots of Christians. So why do some live with exuberance? I believe it has to do with experiencing God. And I don’t mean on Sundays or when tragedy strikes. I mean finding Him, being near Jesus, all week long. Taking chances and yielding when He tugs on your heart…discovering how really amazing He is. Being absolutely blown away with the way He can so gently soothe and change your heart and life.
Drinking in an ordinary sunrise…because you know that with Jesus nothing is ordinary.