I have 2 days left to raise 300 dollars! Anything helps :) I pray that God blesses you for blessing me! I can’t wait to bring revival to Madrid, Spain with my team :)
I have 2 days left to raise 300 dollars! Anything helps :) I pray that God blesses you for blessing me! I can’t wait to bring revival to Madrid, Spain with my team :)
Day One: October 12, 2011: Working Hours: 10:30 a.m. — 11:00 p.m.
Most unexpected memory: My brother TJ tried to get me fake arrested tonight. I was in my bathroom cleaning, and when I walked back out to the hallway, I saw him standing there with a police officer. As soon as I walked into their view, TJ points at me, and says to the cop, “I believe that’s the girl you’re looking for.” The cop then proceeds to walk towards me with his head down. Naturally, I look at TJ for some sort of a sign, but all he does is shrug his shoulders with his hands in the air as if he is just as confused as me. My heart starts beating faster (although I’m not sure why because I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong), but I have always been nervous around cops. As soon as he walks up, he asks me if my name is Leah. I told him it was, so then he says that dreadful line, “Would you mind stepping aside, ma’am? There are a few things I need to talk to you about.” OK, I started to panic a little inside as he finished that last sentence. Of course, I complied, and we stepped to the side of the hallway. But then, he starts laughing and says, “I’m sorry. I can’t do this to you. I’m just kidding.” Oh wow! I breathed a sigh of relief. It turns out my brother had set him up to do that. #thanksbro
How God showed up: I really think they Lord was trying to show me that I don’t have to be listening to worship music, journaling, and reading my Bible during morning or evening prayer to spend quality time with Him. He wants just as badly to spend time with me while I clean toilets at the State Fair as when I’m face down in tears at the altar. Wow. What a simple yet beautiful realization. #imaloverofyourpresence
Day Two: October 13, 2011: Working Hours: 9:30 a.m. — 10:00 p.m.
Most embarrassing moment: As I was cleaning bathroom stalls, I noticed that there were air fresheners hanging on the wall. I decided I wanted my bathroom to stay fresh, so I looked in our supply closet for refills. As I was going through the cardboard boxes, I found what seemed to be little blue air freshener refills in white plastic containers. As I was walking past my brother TJ, I tried taking them out of the wrapper. He just stared at me and asked what I needed those for. I told him I was going to use them in my bathroom. Then, he got a really confused look on his face and replied, “What do you need it for in your bathroom? Those are for the bottom of urinals.” I immediately realized that they were not air fresheners. To say the least, I was embarrassed. The worse part was—a group of four guys was standing within an earshot and heard our entire conversation. They didn’t even try to contain their laughter. I literally felt my face turn bright red as I walked back to the women’s restroom to try to regain my composure. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only girl who wouldn’t know what those were used for, but I think it’s safe to say I’m the only one who would try to hang them on the wall as air fresheners. #embarrassing #blondemoments
How God showed up: I have been really tight on money lately. I am still trying to find a job out here, and my savings account is slowly dwindling. Since I am 21, I hate having to ask my parents for money all the time, so I was getting ready to call my mom tonight to let her know that I wouldn’t be able to afford my sponsorship of Michael Emmanuel—a 12-year-old boy from Ethiopia who I normally give $35 a month to through World Vision. I felt horrible about this, but I just knew that there was no way I was going to scrounge up 35 dollars before the payment was due in two days. Well, I suppose that just goes to show how little faith I really do have because once again, God pulled through! As I was cleaning bathroom stalls, I went inside to do my usual sweeping job, but this time, instead of finding toilet paper on the ground, I found $60! I was in shock, but I knew I had to return the money to its rightful owner. I ran out of the stall and saw four women exiting the restroom. I took my chances and ran to the left to chase two of them down. I asked the two ladies if either of them had been in Stall 8. Neither of them had been. So I went to run the other way and chase down the other ladies, but by that time, they had already gotten lost in the crowd. Then, I heard a voice in my head say, “That money is for you, Leah.” I was almost positive it had come from the Lord, but I wanted to be sure that wasn’t just my flesh wanting to keep the money. So I prayed, “Okay, God. If this woman needs the money more than I do, I pray that she comes back to get it before the fair closes tonight.” Needless to say, God took care of me! She never came back to claim her money, and I was able to sponsor Michael this month! God is good, all the time. #godismyprovider
Day Three: October 14, 2011: Working Hours: 9:30 a.m. — 12:00 a.m.
Most relaxing memory: Our supervisor Louie let us ride the Sky Line at the end of our shift tonight! The ride looks just like a ski lift and travels above the fair on a thick wire. The best part was that I got to ride with Sara Bucholz. It was so nice to be able to talk about our experiences at the state fair so far and to rest our tired feet for a little while. She is my sister. I love her so much. She is definitely one of the sisters who I can talk to about anything. We relate so well, and she just gets me. I love her! Yay for carnival rides with my sister at the end of a long workday. #thesimplethingsinlife
How God showed up: Tonight the fair workers announced that a really bad storm was coming in. It was headed our way with 50-60 miles per hour winds, so they advised everyone to wait inside and wait for it to pass. Naturally, I worked in an indoor bathroom, so everyone rushed to my building. And what happens when you get a ton of women and children stuck inside a building with bathrooms? They all decide they have to use the restroom—at the same exact time. Needless to say, this was the most crowded my bathroom had been since the fair opened. I was beginning to feel a little overwhelmed. So I cried out to God, “Jesus, help me.” Not even 20 minutes later, an older black woman walked inside. As soon as she approached me, she took my spray bottle from my hands and started spraying the walls, pretending like it was a video game. I instantly began to laugh—she had already brightened my night. Then, she said something unexpected. She looked at me, and said, “You are so sweet. You are just precious. Don’t ever change. Oh, and your teeth are as white as pearls. Always remember, good things come to those who wait.” Well, at that point, I was already feeling flattered. My tanks had been re-filled. But then, she bent down and quietly whispered, “The grace of God is the greatest gift you’ll ever receive.” I looked back at her and then replied, “Amen! God is so good. Thank you ma’am! You seriously just made my night.” Then, I thanked the Lord in my head. I knew he must have sent her to me. The Lord knows exactly what we need, when we need it. Hallelujah! #wordsofaffirmation
Day Four: October 15, 2011: Working Hours: 8:30 a.m. — 12:00 a.m.
Most Exhilarating Memory: A huge fight broke out at the fair tonight. Supposedly, after the fight had begun, the men tried to run away from the cops that were chasing them. Within a matter of 60 seconds, the cops had at least ten guys handcuffed on the ground. People were swarming around trying to see what had just happened. At this point, my brother Brad and I were visiting Sarah and Justin at their outside bathrooms. We must have barely missed all the action, but we still got to catch the tail end of it. We were able to witness girls (who I assume were the girlfriends of the guys getting arrested) causing a scene trying to run up and get involved. The cops didn’t waste any time—they immediately shoved them out of the way. It was pretty intense. At this time, Sarah, Justin, Brad, and I were still trying to figure out what had started all of this. Then, Sarah and I got the (not so bright idea) to try to sweep up a cup between the police officers and us. We didn’t get very far before one of our bosses stopped us and told us to walk away. Then, our supervisor Louie said we were done cleaning for the night and to go meet under the tent where we would be safe. I’m not gonna lie—it was pretty crazy! That is definitely not something you get to witness everyday. It was somewhat exciting, but I am truly glad no innocent bystanders got hurt. At least we got off 30 minutes early! #gangfights #adrenalinerush
How God showed up: A woman and a daughter walked into my restroom. The mom seemed really irritated with her and was talking down to her the whole time they were in line. Apparently, the girl didn’t need to use the restroom because she waited outside as her mom went inside one of the stalls. Immediately, I heard a voice in my head say, “Leah, tell her that I love her. She really needs to hear it right now.” Well, I was already feeling bad for the pool girl because of the way her mom spoke to her, but I didn’t hesitate to obey what I believed to be the Lord’s voice. I’m beginning to learn more and more not to ignore those instructions because we never know what weight those words will carry. While we could easily let those people slip by, if we speak out in boldness, we also never knew the impact they could have on someone. If there is one thing I know I’ll never regret speaking to people about—it’s Jesus. So I began talking to the girl. Our conversation went something like this:
Me: Hi, how is your day going?
Girl: It’s going alright. I like being at the fair.
Me: That’s so good to hear! So, do you believe in God?
*She looks up at me and silently nods her head yes.
Me: Well, God and I are pretty tight. And I don’t know, but right now I just feel like he just wants you to know how much he loves you.
*She just looked at me and smiled and then waited for her mom to finish using the restroom.
I know I’ll probably never see her again, but I hope she remembers those words for the rest of her life. All I can pray is that God will use that encounter for her good and His glory. #jesuslovesthelittlechildren
Day Five: October 16, 2011: Working Hours: 11:30 a.m. — 10:00 p.m.
Brad: Do you like dogs?
Brad: Do you like dogs?
*That awkward moment where you still can’t understand what someone is saying to you, but you feel stupid asking again, so you just pretend like you heard them.
Me: No, why? Do you want to fix one?
Brad (With a really confused look on his face): What?
Me: Wait, I don’t think I heard you right. What did you just ask me?
Brad: Do you like dogs?
Me: Ohhh! I thought you said, Do you have any clogs? Hahaha.
Well, that was slightly embarrassing. He was talking about the police dogs at the fair, but I thought he was talking about clogged toilets. Oh well. At least it made for a good story at dinner! #miscommunication
How God showed up: Today was by far the most anointed day at the State Fair, and it all began in Kellie O’s car. Kellie, Farrah, Sarah, Kat, and I were listening to worship music like usual on our way downtown, but something was different this time. I know you don’t have to feel God’s presence to worship him, but I truly believe we all felt his presence this morning. It was so thick and so tangible. I can’t speak for what the Lord did in my sisters’ hearts this morning, but I can certainly tell you what he did in mine. As we were worshipping, I went from singing the song with my eyes closed to weeping uncontrollably. Lately, every time I cry, it’s not because I’m extra emotional or anything. I weep because God has been breaking my heart for what breaks his. More than anything, he has been breaking his heart for the lost souls of this world. As we were driving, he brought to my mind all the people I was about to encounter at the State Fair that day who didn’t know him—people who were broken, hopeless, and looking for meaning in life. So I cried. I could feel my makeup running down my face, but it didn’t matter. I was crying for lost souls—lost souls who are headed for an eternity in hell. If it hurt me this bad to think about the lost, I cannot even begin to imagine how much it hurts our Heavenly Father to see people living in opposition to him. He literally yearns for us. His heart beats for us; all he wants is our time and devotion, but so many of us turn our backs on the greatest love ever known. It hurts so bad to know that was me at some point. I knew I had almost missed it back in California, but then, I started crying tears of joy. I cried tears of joy because I knew how much God loved me. He relentlessly pursued me. I never asked for this opportunity to come press into the heart of my father at SCSL—rather, it was all God’s doing. He brought me here to Columbia where I could seek and love him above all else. Our encounter with the Lord in Kellie’s car was cut short unfortunately since we had to get to work, but he stayed with us all day. As it turns out, God remained closer than ever as I cleaned those bathrooms. I got the opportunity to tell three women about my love for the Lord. Two of them turned out to be Christian; their entire countenance changed when they realized we had this in common. I prayed blessings over them as I walked away. The other woman was much harder; she seemed really discouraged as she talked to me about her finance problems. She told me that she and her husband hadn’t even met expenses for their booth this week at the fair. I told her I’d be praying for her this next week. She almost laughed, but then politely thanked me. I pray that the Lord does a work in her heart over the course of these next few days. #speechless #inaweofgodspresence
Conclusion: As excited as I was to be able to finally sleep in and eat something other than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch, I am actually a little bummed that State Fair is over. It’s definitely bittersweet. I never knew I could find so much joy in cleaning bathrooms; it’s funny how the Lord can do such a huge work inside of us over such a short amount of time. It’s also ironic that I was assigned to clean bathrooms since I have such a huge fear of public restrooms myself. That’s no exaggeration either—I literally avoid them at all costs. But, the Lord knows exactly what he’s doing, and he placed me there for a reason. I am so thankful I got to experience all of these memories with my SCSL family. I love my sisters and brothers more than I ever thought possible. Last night during our final debrief, we all began to give props to each other. It was unbelievable how much appreciation and encouragement was spoken. Everyone’s words created a loving atmosphere of unity and wholeness—we are a real family. Part of me never wants this season in my life to end, but I know the Lord has a perfect plan. My prayer is that I would cherish every moment for what it’s worth and remember to thank God for everything that is happening here—both the good and the uncomfortable because I know—at the end of the day, he is going to use it for my good and for his glory. Above all, I learned that the Lord is pleased with us for all of our hard work. He demonstrated how he shows us so much favor in a completely different way this week! As a whole, our family found cash on the ground, received tips for cleaning bathrooms, and got free fair food for sweeping up trash around the vendors! I also learned how much he truly longs to be with us—all day, everyday. We don’t have to wait for “special” times because he is always there, just waiting for us to call his name. I truly believe we bring him so much joy when we seek him out before turning to anything else. He wants to be our Comforter in times of despair; he wants to be the Provider of our basic needs just like a good Daddy would do for his children. He just wants us to be with us! Even though I have different memories from each day—some were funny, others embarrassing, and one was even a little scary, but nonetheless, God showed up everyday! He never fails. Ah! There is no greater love and nothing sweeter than his presence. #runningintohisarms
Final Score: Total time spent cleaning bathrooms: 65 hours in 5 days, Total money found in a bathroom stall: $60, Total money made in tips: $16, Making unforgettable memories with my SCSL family and sharing the love of Christ = PRICELESS! #statefair
”I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” -Ezekiel 36:26
I really felt like the Lord was speaking to me through this verse a couple weeks ago, especially since I feel like God has really been speaking to me about my heart ever since I began seeking His face again. And no, I’m not referring to the heart defined by Dictionary.com as “a hollow, pumplike organ of blood circulation.” Rather, I am referring to the heart that God talks about in the BIble, which is the very source of our being. Dictionary.com also gives a Biblical definition of the heart, which I think is fitting for what I want to talk about.
“According to the Bible, the heart is the center not only of spiritual activity, but of all the operations of human life. The heart is also the seat of the conscience. It is naturally wicked, and it contaminates the whole life and character. Hence, the heart must be changed and regenerated, before a man can willingly obey God.”
So, naturally I assumed that Ezekiel 36:26 was confirmation to the title I had given my blog—A Heart Tranformed. Of course, I do believe that God has been transforming my heart ever since I began walking with Him again on June 21, 2011. However, I don’t believe the work God wants to do inside of me stops there. I truly believe God gave me a new revelation tonight—He doesn’t just want to continue transforming my heart these next 8 months; rather, His desire is to give me a completely new heart! Wow, think about that for a moment…
If you’re anything like me, at some point in your life, you found your identity in something other than Jesus Christ. In my case, it was a relationship. Needless to say, it didn’t take too long before that person became an idol in my life. Since he became my source of security, I put everything into making that relationship work. I gave away pieces of my heart over time, and eventually it felt like I had nothing left to give anyone, including God, because I had shared too much of my heart and soul with someone who wasn’t God, who wasn’t my husband. So whenever this relationship ended, naturally, I was left broken-hearted. He gave me back my heart, but it was still in pieces and left with deep emotional scars. Ever since that happened, I have been trying to figure out how to move on completely, how to forgive, and how to rejoice in that past experience, knowing God is going to use it for His glory and my good. I have come so far, but tonight was a break through for me.
God reminded me that I don’t have to regret giving away so much of my heart to another person. You see, none of that matters anymore because that broken heart is no longer a part of me. As soon as I became a new creation in Christ, He gave me a completely different heart—one that desires to please him and to do his will. My heart belongs to Jesus alone, and he has promised to take care of me. In Christ, I am a new creation. In Christ, I am free! So if my old heart was scarred, broken, and dead. My new heart is vibrant and alive!
Thank you Jesus for giving me a new heart. Thank you for reminding me that you don’t just want to transform my heart—your desire is to give me a completely new heart, unblemished, without scars, and without baggage or bondage. One that is free from emotional ties, free from past memories, and free from the brokenness of this world. My new heart comes straight from you—as a result, it is encouraging; it is loving; it breathes love; it is full of joy, hope, and peace; it is faithful and loyal; and it lives to serve You and others. No more scarring of the soul; no more soul ties; no more tears; no more pain. You have given me a new heart! Thank You Lord for being my Redeemer and my Restorer. Thank you for completely restoring my heart, for restoring my innocence.
Hope Bridge is an adult day care center in downtown Columbia that is open to people with special needs over the age of 18. I already know Hope Bridge is going to be one of the most unexpected and rewarding blessings in my life these next 8 months… But I’ll be honest with you; I was not thrilled when I found out I would be serving there each week, to say the very least. In fact, I was almost a little upset since I had really been looking forward to mentoring high school girls. In fact, we were able to order our top three choices, and special needs wasn’t even on my list. Please understand that when I say this, I am being completely, 100 percent transparent. I am not trying to say that I have anything against handicapped people; it’s just that I have no experience working with them and to be completely honest, they have always intimidated me. This is not because I am literally scared of them and what they could do to me; rather, I have always been afraid of interacting with them because I’m worried I will do or say the wrong thing around them. I have also had a fear that I won’t be able to understand what they’re trying to communicate to me and then just feel awkward when I have to repeatedly ask them, “What?”
Well, this story gets better; believe me. I had the most amazing time with them on Tuesday! And I’m not just saying that. I promise. I will admit that I was a little apprehensive on the drive downtown, but as soon as I walked inside, I instantly loved them. Granted, this could also have something to do with the fact that I have been praying that God would give me a heart for them and that I would be able to demonstrate the love of Christ to them through my actions and speech. However, I also think it had something to do with their faces. I’m telling you—their facial expressions are priceless. All you have to do is make one glance in their direction in order to receive the most warming and welcoming smile. Their joy is literally contagious! I am absolutely positive that I could walk into that place having had the worst morning of my life and leave with a permanent smile for the rest of that day. It’s funny how God works sometimes. You see, I walked into that place thinking I was there to bless them, but I walked out realizing that they were going to be the ones to bless me. All I can do is thank the Father because I know he is faithful in answering my prayers; He truly has given me His love for them.
I can’t wait to see what God wants to do in and through me these next few months at Hope Bridge. Like always, I know he has a perfect plan, and I can’t wait to watch it unfold! I should really be getting used to the truth that the Father always knows best by now, but I have to admit He still manages to surprise me each and everyday! I am falling even more in love with him than I ever thought possible. And it sure is a beautiful thing, incomparable to anything else I’ve ever experienced.
The other day I read this scripture, and it spoke directly to my heart. I just wanted to share it with anyone who has been longing to be set free from past sin, guilt, and shame.
“O Lord, truly I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant, you have freed me from my chains.” -Psalm 116:15-16.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever… Let those who fear the Lord say: ‘His love endures forever.’ In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. All the nations surrounded me, but in the name of the Lord I cut them off. They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the Lord I cut them off… I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous” ‘The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!’ I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done... Iwill give you thanks, for you answered me… The Lord is God and he has made his light shine upon us. WIth boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. GIve thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” -Psalm 118:1, 4-11, 13-17, 21, 27-29.
My journal entry from September 7, 2011:
I keep seeing myself chained up. The image is very vivide. Both wrists are in cuffs attached to thick metal chains. I am desparately trying to escape. As I try to run away, the heavy chains remain in place bhind me. I am not strong enough to break free. It looks like I’m being tormented. I am yelling and screaming as I try to fight off the chains. I can’t see anyone at the other end, ut I know there is someone tormenting me. I can see the pain in my face. I am being haunted by past memories of my former relationships. I long to be set free from my past bondage, but then I hear the calming voice of the Lord, “You can’t do this on your own, Leah. Let me do it for you. You are weak, but I am strong. I alone hold the keys to your freedom. Let me do what I’ve been wanting to do all along. I want to set you free.”
My journal entry from September 10, 2011:
FREEDOM. I am free. Chains were broken tonight. As I worshipped the Lord, I felt like we were dancing. The Lord is asking me to trust in Him. My vision began the same as before—But this time, the chains broke instantly. I ran into the arms of the Father, and He picked me up. It was the sweetest of reunions. I’ve never felt more secure or loved than in the arms of my Heavenly Father. He is huge! I could barely reach His chest. He was wearing a white robe. It was truly spectacular.
I was sitting in chapel Thursday morning, and I cried out to God. This was my prayer, “Holy Spirit, right now I need the love of the Father. Lord, would you please speak of your love to me?” And this is how He responded…
I wrote it all down in my journal, so I could share it with you. I don’t believe the Lord doesn’t speak these things to us, so we can keep them to ourselves. I encourage you to read this as if God is speaking directly to you.
(Insert name here), I do love you. I’ve always loved you. From the time of creation, from the moment I formed you inside your mother’s womb, I knew of my great love for you. I know you might not understand it, but that’s where trust comes in. Trust me—trust also in my love for you. No one else could love you like I do. I am pleased with you. The intentions of your heart are pleasing to me. Stop trying to earn my love—you already know it’s unconditional. I love you. You are mine. Keep pressing into my heart. Don’t ever give up or be overwhelmed with fear. Instead, be overwhelmed with my great love for you. I have so much more to show you, so much more to give you—but you have to take hold of my love. Learn how to love yourself and others the way that I have loved you. You’re always trying to figure out the plans I have in store for you, but this is the biggest calling I have placed on your life—to love. I know it seems so simple, but living a life of love is worth it. I am worth it, (insert name here). Let me love you the way that I want to, the way that it’s supposed to be. Don’t turn away from my love or fear what consequences it will bring. Don’t you know I already know what is best for you? And perfect love drives out all fear; my love is perfection, unlike any other. Don’t try to compare my love to the lack of love you’ve received from other relationships. Instead, allow me to pour out my love on you. My love is a freeing love, a transforming love, a healing love. Rest in that love; rest in that truth. My love will heal all your wounds. My love will protect your soul. My love will lead you in the way everlasting. Love me (insert name here), but first, just let me love you… Don’t try to fight it. Don’t put up walls because my love is stronger—my love conquers all. I want you to experience my love to the fullest. I know you want to follow me, so why not let it go? Let your fears, anxious thoughts, doubts, worries, insecurities, guilt, and shame go. Just let them go; they don’t matter. All that matters is my love for you. The things of this world will come and go, but my love? It’s eternal. It has no boundaries. It knows no end. It has no prerequisites, no hidden attachments. It’s a gift, free for all to take. Take hold of my love and let everything you do be an overflow of that love. Then, you can give it away to others. Remember, you did nothing to earn my love for you, so why keep it to yourself? Give it out in the same way I have so freely given it to you. It didn’t cost you anything, so why wait? Why hesitate? Love all. Love the neglected, the abandoned, the orphaned, the underprivileged, and the brokenhearted. Love them all… because I do. Let your love for them be a testimony of the greatest love that ever was and ever will be. So now I say this—go and share what I have told you. Share the love I have given you because I did not intend this love for you alone but for every living soul on this earth. Everyone is hungry for love. Everyone wants to be accepted, but no one should ever feel that way because they are already wanted and loved by me. My love is deep, my love is wide, my love is high. My love is the key to life. So remember this—love and be loved. My love for you conquered the grave; my love conquered death. Are these not things that man has come to fear? My love is greater still. Remember what I said—perfect love casts out fear. So what is there to fear? Absolutely nothing, nothing at all. If my love conquered sin and put death to shame, can’t my love also consume your life? Let your heart, mind, and soul be transformed by my perfect love.
This seriously brought me to tears. She is so talented. Shoutout to Jenna Jordan for sharing :)
So many of us came into SCSL full of past hurts, hidden sin, baggage, shame, and guilt. But God does not intend for us to stay the same. He does not want us to leave here on May 20th the same way we came on August 20th. His desire is that we become new creations, destined to do glorious works in His name. He wants to purify and refine us, but before He can do a work in us, we must first be set free. Set free from everything that kept us from Him before.
So here is His advice to us: Hold nothing back. Surrender.
Because God’s desire is to do a quick work in us. He has so much planned for our lives, so many promises to fulfill, but He can’t fill us up until we empty ourselves. In that moment of total surrender, all chains will be broken. And we will all be set free.
This trip was insane. There are simply no words. So many inside jokes and memories were made. I established new relationships with some of my sisters and grew even closer to others. I never thought I would go to NASCAR, let alone be a part of the cleaning crew there. Nonetheless, it was an awesome experience. It was definitely an answer to one of my prayers as well. Lately, God has really been pressing into me the importance of humility. It was certainly humbling to scrub floors, polish elevators, clean windows, and wipe of counters wearing that cleaning uniform. I noticed that some of the wealthy customers looked at me differently. One woman even refused to smile at me. Regardless, it was humbling, and I thank God that I got to walk in someone else’s shoes for once in my life. Our supervisor definitely didn’t make matters any easier either; she loved to yell orders at us and scolded anyone who didn’t follow through exactly to her high standards. Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. God is good, and I truly believe He did a work in her heart through our hard work. Two of the second year sisters even got the chance to pray over her on Sunday night. Although she had showed no sympathy to us all weekend, their prayers brought her to tears. God is so good. Our trip turned out to be so much more than just a fundraiser; it was definitely a ministry trip, too. People were astounded by our work ethic, but most of all, we blew them away with our positive attitudes—what an awesome testimony to God’s love and mercy that He so graciously pours out on us. There would have no way we could have survived had it not been for God-given energy and joy. I love that we were able to give others a glimpse of that. My prayer is that we impacted their hearts and lives forever. I pray that we planted a seed that someone else will water and that God will continue to grow.
“This is my heart, transformed.”
Okay, that’s cool, but what does that does that even mean?
Transformation—what is that process all about?
Transformation (noun): a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.
Okay, well I certainly don’t “look” any different on the outside, so surely this so-called change must go deeper than that. On the other hand, I’d like to think that the appearance of my heart is literally being transformed.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his heart, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” -1 Samuel 16:7.
Four months ago, I picture my heart as being ugly and hardened from living the oppression of the enemy, as a slave to my habitual sin. I see a disfigured, black, scarred heart, with cracks all over it like those that form in hardened clay. But now I see a refined heart, a pure heart, cleansed by living water. It is no longer hardened or cracking, rather it is alive and beating. It is soft and open to rebuking, correcting, and teaching. The Lord is my potter. He is molding my heart to looks a little more like His everyday.
Transform (verb): to alter or to be altered radically in form, function, etc.
So if this is the case, my heart has not been transformed. Rather, it is undergoing transformation because ‘transform’ is an active verb. Furthermore, this process occurs by the power of the Holy Spirit. God the Father is my creator, Jesus is my Savior, but the Holy Spirit is my Counselor. He speaks directly to my soul. As I look back on all the years I called myself a Christian, I wonder why this process didn’t start sooner, why I’m just now seeing tangible results in my lifestyle. That’s easy—I was never willing to deny my “self.” It’s like I accepted Jesus into my life, but subconsciously, I was saying to Him, “I want to enjoy the life you have for me. I’d love to reap its benefits. But here’s the deal: I’ll give you a piece of me—mostly the parts I never really cared that much about… But my idols? My habitual sin? I think I’ll keep those for now. You aren’t worthy of my complete, absolute surrender.”
How could I expect Him to transform me when I wasn’t even willing to lay down my life for Him? The one thing He asks in return for the precious gift of eternal life he so freely gave on the cross? This is where pride comes in—my self-pleasing, self-trusting, self-righteous nature.
So if God calls us to lay down our pride… What should our lifestyles resemble?
It’s simple, really. Our lives should resemble that of Jesus… Humility.
Philippians 2 gives us a beautiful picture of this. “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” –Philippians 2:6-8.
Wow. Think about that for a moment. Jesus was the Son of God, and he made himself nothing? How is it then, that I still harbor pride in my heart? I really am nothing; my life is fleeting. I think that’s where my conviction comes in. I want to know what humility looks like. I want to be stripped of all my pride. I think this is where the power of the Holy Spirit comes in… The only thing standing in my way is my own pride, my disgusting self-seeking desires. I have to deny myself. The Holy Spirit is just waiting to take a hold of every heart that is willing to surrender itself. So what is holding us back? What is keeping us from living this life of surrender? The lies of the enemy? That we can always start fresh tomorrow? That pride really isn’t that big of a deal? Don’t believe the lie. Jesus desires our surrender right now, in this very moment, but don’t let this thought overwhelm you. Remember, we are not alone—we are not called to live life alone. Jesus gives us deliverance from the power of “self.” All we have to do is humble ourselves before Him, and He will take care of the rest. And denying ourselves is not too much of Him to ask. After all, He came down on this earth; we now have the privilege of studying the story of his life in the gospels, which exemplifies humility perfectly.
Make me humble, O Lord. Strip me of myself. Take from my life those things I’m still holding onto for dear life. Jesus, I surrender. You can have it all….
Even now that I’ve written this, I question my motives. Have I written this out of a false sense of humility? Which in actuality is just a nicer way of defining pride? I really hope not. Lord, if there is any ounce of pride inside my heart, please take it from me. You must become greater, and I must become less. Hear my prayer O God. I want to be more like you, Jesus. Continue to transform my heart.