I just got back from an awesome visit to the English's:
It was without doubt the highlight of about a month...and probably the most fun thing I've done since CFO. ;)
There were a lot of things that made it awesome ;)
...namely, that it WAS the ENGLISH's...
but also because of 4 new awesome people I met for the first time:
among them Isaiah and Josiah English, thanks for being great guys!
I hadn't met them outside of blogging, but I knew they were coming as well and was looking forward to meeting more of the infamous English clan in person. Apparently they didn't know I was coming though, because it took them until later that night to realize that I was Dan Midgett. The mysterious blog visitor. ;)
That's actually one of my favorite things to do...to search my friend's contacts and find ones that interest me...then I start visiting them. If you get comments from me, then I've probably decided that you are original and/or love the Lord...good friends are hard to come by, and I find a whole lot of my best ones from my other good friends.
But I don't want to talk about my personality quirks...however fun that might be ;)
I want to talk about joy...profound joy and opportunity, and an example of things God does when you're listening. Because you see...what made this particular visit so amazing for me was actually NOT the fact that I was meeting original awesome people like me, it was that God was in our midst...and I could feel it all weekend. The reason I love the English family so much, is because I sense God in their hearts and house...and it makes it wonderful and relaxing...because God is the most wonderful friend I've ever had. I prayed before I came on the trip that it would be a trip worthy of God's glory...that I would not seek simply to love and get to know new people, but to listen and do his will...and to let his love and his plan flow through me. Even on the drive God's presence was intensely manifest. (present in physical form) I realized after a few months of being distracted from my real purposes, that Satan will always find something that will occupy my attention. As a blogger I just started visiting recently said on her "really long" blog:
"I am a good multi-tasker in someways, but a terrible one in others. Spiritually, I don't grow very much if I split too many ways, with too many 'focuses'.....because then, I loose a main focus." (aka God) She was asking how she could grow this year, an excellent question to be pondering. What I've realized, after being plunged out of my growth with God, time and time again, is that the enemy has more tools at his disposal then I had realized. Internally, my desire, hunger, and need to be growing never fades, and probably never will. I love God too much to slip...it's agony. But, Satan can use harmless things that I enjoy, that aren't even "bad" things to keep me from moving forward like I should be. I call these harmless, and sometimes un-harmless things "distractions." Apt name huh? For instance, I absolutely adore strategy games...I have a favorite called Civilization III that lets me control an entire civilization. However, this wonderful gift and desire that I have to use my mind, can also be used by Satan to distract my mind from what is more important...God's voice...and what he is trying to tell me about where I should move next. It's funny, but I've found that any engaging game leaves me less spiritually sensitive...the only ones that don't seem too are board games where I can play with other people. And there are many examples like this. I love reading, but since I hyper-focus on what I've engaged myself in, Reading can even be used by Satan to distract me...the question lies: What does being "seperate from the world" really mean?
For me...it means eliminating my "needs" for anything other than God. The implications are staggering, but worth it I've found. I don't "need" attention. I don't "need" to be appreciated...or "need" to look positive in my friend's eyes, therefore I can do things that are very embarassing for me but bring Glory to God. I don't "need" strategy games, and I don't "need" my family, or marriage, or anything this world has to offer. Now granted, to those that just lost me on the last line, marriage and family is a gift from God and not rooted in the world, but what I'm trying to describe is what Jesus and Paul tried to communicate. A life utterly abandoned to the creator. And intensely and powerfully submitted to his will. Any hold that life has on you can, and probably will be used by the Prince of this World to keep you from fulfilling your grandest potential. For instance, if you cannot bear the thought of losing contact with the friends God has given you now, then life has a hold on you...and you would find it very difficult to comply if God sent you to some remote region. The concept is fluid but simple, any door that we fail to open for God cannot be used by him. And if I want my life to go exactly as God planned...which I do...then I must open every door.
If God leads me to get married I will rejoice in the gift (because like all guys it is something that I long for) and love my wife with the passion that has been waiting in me since I was born...but, if God doesn't ordain that, then he's already proved that he will give me an infinitely deep friendship with him and will cover my loneliness with his all-encompassing presence. Like the apostle Paul said...to be single is one of the greatest gifts in this world...for you have no responsibilities, and no obligations but to God himself. Wouldn't that be amazing!!!? ...so I can rejoice that God will reward me if he's called me to that single life and I'm strong enough to accept it! ;) And if not? Then I'll rejoice in the gift...either way it's a gift...
And that brings me back to my original point: If you are halfway in the world or have not brought yourself to break out of it...God's voice will not be as clear and the life he is calling you too will be much harder to embrace...but if you are...if you truly sacrifice everything on the altar...then the bliss in your life will explode...for there truly is no joy in life like the divine joy of plunging into a blizzard, not knowing what lies ahead, but knowing that God will be a there...a true life of mystery and surprise. This is why splitting your attention and engaging in the things of this world...even the harmless things can be dangerous...because it will keep you always just shy of taking the steps into the snowstorm. Even a person who sincerely wants to move forward can be duped into standing still...if they let life distract them. But I promise you that if you have the will to throw your life away...then you can get there. Seek and you will find...Knock and the door will open, not always the door you are knocking on but the right door...and then you will move forward. Because listening has always been more than we make it out to be. If you are trying to follow God's voice then that requires persistence, but also an open mind and perception...because if your mind isn't open and searching in every direction...you might not see that door at the end of your house of doors click open. The limitation of your imagination and mind is one of Satan's most powerful tools...if you can't imagine the path God lays before you...chances are you will never see it...so search, search as hard as you can, so that you will not fall prey to thinking that God is standing still when really you have limited the avenues in front of you. If you think you can only move forward or backwards...then how will you see the path branch to the side? ...if you think you can only move on the plane of the ground...then will you see down...or even up? I challenge you to allow God to teach you constantly...because otherwise his plan, and his paths will be imcomprehensible to you in the future. For our culture always limits our minds...it's time to break free of it and accept God's standards.
This is the life I want and yearn for, and being in it brings the most rapturous joy I've ever felt. I openly confess to you all that I am weak and fearful...but I can tell you right here and now, that God works through weakness. I've come to realize that emotions and feelings are like colours...colours don't control you, they only accent life and bring beauty...but when the colours get drab I'm not going to stop and complain about how bleak everything looks...because I know that I am not controlled by colour...and neither am I controlled by emotion. It is possible to feel the deepest of sadness and depression and yet have an utter assurance through it all that everything is going to work fine...a deep and unfathomable peace. Feeling is human...and I will always feel...and contrary to popular belief being a strong, willing Christian does not mean you don't feel the fear that others feel. Inside I can be writhing with nervousness when I walk up to a person to say God's words and carry out his assignment, but it doesn't need to alter my steps...because God has proved himself...I KNOW he will always come through. And I'm not afraid to admit my fear, because I know that it doesn't need to matter. If you have been waiting for boldness, then I challenge you to stop waiting and move forward anyway...the faith of a mustard seed is all God asks...just do it...just take the first step and no matter what you feel I promise you that God will work...you may not see it. But I can tell you here and now, God is always working...all we have to do is walk after listening. God already does all the hard work...
Indeed...Bravery isn't the absence of fear...it is the action of working despite it.
Being a good Christian doesn't mean you're inhumanly driven and confident...often God will give that, but you must admit to yourself that he doesn't have too, and that walking with him will be full of surprises that will scare the heck out of you. ;) ...the trick is to work despite it. We are earthen vessels full of treasure...and "earthen" means that we are of this earth. Remember, however, that this is not our heart...our heart is treasure, something far brighter...we are but conduits for the glory and strength that moves us forward and we can often be overwhelmed by what God does with that glory, when all we did was let it pass through us. ;)
That's why you can be scared stiff and yet still be working God's glory...because a cold or hot conduit is irrelevent...and colour is below note. the only relevant thing is that we stay open and let God keep moving. Open yourselves and watch his glory flow...then see what emotion you feel...if it isn't exhilarition then you have a problem. After it happens, you realize how fickle emotion is anyway...Satan or God can change it in a wink...
For instance, the last night at the English's was really amazing for me because I could feel God in the house...so powerful and all-consuming that just being in the house was like being surrounded in a sea of God. I went down-stairs to read my Bible, but was so enraptured by the presence of my divine creator that I simply breathed and drank it in...letting it feel me and wash over me. Samuel, my cousin followed me, and found me grinning like a fool on the couch downstairs...just staring straight ahead. Of course, he asked: "What is It?" and of course I announced God's presence: "I just feel God...he's everywhere...in this house and it makes me so happy I just wanted to sit and drink it in..." Samuel's next comment was: "Man...I wish I could feel God like you." And God surged. When God surges for me it is like waves rising and falling...God's wave rose in me and I knew that this conversation was important to him. So instead of giving the cliche answer "Sam...don't feel that way! God is with you too..." and comforting him and telling him what I saw of God in him as well, I sat waiting for God's words...which are always way better than mine. After a bit I started speaking...and let God's love guide me. It wasn't words in my head...but my heart comfirming my thoughts and the thoughts God had put there, letting me know that they were part of God's intended conversation. God works in many ways...and I won't attempt to define how he worked...because I can't; he works differently pretty much every time. But I was speaking God's words...that's the assurance he gives. I told him that emotions were gifts, that feeling is nothing, but believing is everything. God gives us feelings like the awesome presence and joy I was feeling right there as a gift to us because he knows we enjoy it. But God isn't the feeling, and even if I wasn't feeling his awesome presence I would know he was there...just because I was feeling, wasn't anything...I told him...but the feeling is an expression, another fruit of God. He replied with: "I know that feelings aren't God, but I still want them..." And I told him that of course he did...we are human and it is one of the ways we most deeply relate. I told about the false facades that people slap down over those they admire, and told him that I suspected nearly every Christian felt inadequate. I told him that I, mess up all the time too, and that the only difference that I could tell was that I don't let it hold me. God forgives...and the longer we spend thinking and feeling guilty and thinking of the right words to confess and cry our hearts out the longer God has to wait for us to recover and move on. To be in God and grow, to truly grow, is to realize more each day how weak you are and how you can never measure up to Christ. But it's beautful because you realize that it's God that's allowing you to get closer to him anyway...all you have to do is reach for him. At this point Sam said something like: "Man Dan! That's what I love about you...most people would just try to comfort me, but you say something like: "Yeah dude...you're weak...I know, and you always will be...It's refreshing." I laughed and told him that God speaking is always just what we needed. And reminded him of an earlier conversation where God had met him and he had followed his words and had a wonderful night. I told him: "You were feeling then...weren't you?" And he said yes. And I told him that he had continue on that path...the feeling is simply an expression of God...a sense of something much deeper. And from that point on he opened up and poured out his heart. And I confessed one of my sins to him because I felt like God wanted it and we prayed for each other and it was absolutely beautiful. BEcuase God was in control.
So like I said, Let's be looking...God did some awesome restoration there and I love Sam very dearly because of his heart and willingness. Sam, is probably one of the most willing Christians I know. But like I said...don't we all feel? Don't we all get down and get hit? God cares...and Christianity is a life of weakness being strength despite it all. We are there for each other...but it's all God. What good would I be if God wasn't speaking and guiding me. It's a realization that you always feel as you see God work. Because it's God...and pride has no place in it. I mean, haha! It's not like I did it! The Glory to God for ever and ever amen. ;)
~Dan Midgett signing off