He wants to be everything you’re wishing for
“I had a dream last night about the Winter Retreat,” a sweet colleague said to me on Friday. “I think God is going to move through you this weekend, but He also has something big in store for you as well.”
Over the past few months, I’ve been watching the students at our church during the weekends. They come up to the front during worship on Sundays and raise their arms and joyfully praise Jesus. It has been inspiring to see and my heart has been drawn toward them. Something is stirring inside of me. It’s really weird because I’m generally terrified of young people. I never know what they’re really talking about (I just learned what “salty” means) and sometimes I feel like an 75-year-old woman in a 29-year-old body. If you read my last blog post, you know I love old people. So this stirring is new for me.
Thinking that maybe it wasn’t a coincidence, a few weeks ago I asked God if He would open a door if he wanted me to help out with student ministry. I’m not married and aside from my job, I really do have more time on my hands than most people. So I asked God to open a door if that’s what He wanted for me. God is so cool. Literally the next night, one of the campus youth pastors texted me, “Hey, I have an interesting question for you. Would you want to go as an adult leader to our High School retreat?” And on Friday night, I found myself climbing into a yellow school bus with 150 energetic high schoolers.
Honestly, the beginning of the weekend was tough. Voices immediately popped into my head. What makes you think you’re qualified for this? Your faith isn’t that strong. You’re not even that cool. You aren’t making a difference. What are you going to talk to them about? You don’t even like students. Then anxiety creeped in. It wasn’t pretty as I silently fought an internal battle in my mind.
I’d love to say that I remembered Bible verses like “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) and “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9), but I didn’t. I sat in the shame for a very long time. Then, I remembered what my friend had said — “He also has something big in store for you.”
Our church is connected to this pastor of a multi-site church in Virginia and Texas and he’ll come speak at our church often. Last minute, he came to the Winter Retreat — but not exactly for the students. He felt God bringing him to encourage the leaders. So a special session was set up specifically for leaders on Saturday afternoon.
In Luke 8, an esteemed man comes to Jesus begging him to heal his 12-year old daughter. On the way to their home, a woman who has been bleeding for 12 years reaches out to Jesus and touches him. She is immediately healed. Jesus says to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” As this highly-esteemed man is pleading for his own daughter’s life, Jesus calls this woman “Daughter,” too. He heals her insides and makes her whole. In the culture at the time, if you were bleeding, you couldn’t touch anyone. You would make anyone you touched ceremonially unclean. So this woman was essentially an outcast for 12 years. As she touched Jesus, instead of making him unclean, he made her clean. “When we come to Jesus with our mess and lay it upon Him, it doesn’t make Him a mess. It makes us clean. Sometimes, Jesus interrupts us and says it’s time to heal the inside of ourselves,” the pastor said. As he speaks, I start to gut-wrenchingly sob. I don’t even know where it’s coming from, but it seems like Jesus is interrupting me, too. “What is going on, God?” I ask.
A few weeks ago, I took my dad to the ER and learned that his brain tumors have grown. I spent a few days with him in a few hospitals and I came home exhausted. I wasn’t just physically exhausted from the medical process, but I was emotionally drained as well. For years, I have prayed for my dad to be, well, a dad to me. I have wished he would want to get to know me. I have wished he wouldn’t be angry. I have wished he wouldn’t have divorced my mom. Every time I am with him, I guess I’m reminded of my wishes and it makes me really sad. I hope he will be different, but he isn’t, and I get disappointed.
In some ways, I identify with the woman who bled for 12 years. I’m not physically bleeding, but I am emotionally. I struggle with feelings of rejection. I have longed to have my dad seek to know my heart, but he has not. I have desperately wanted to be called “Daughter,” but my dad wasn’t able to do that. But I have a heavenly Father who is calling me “Daughter.” He is seeking me and He does know my heart. And He wants to be everything I’ve been wishing for.
Everything is not all tied up in a neat little bow, but I am excited to see how Jesus is going to move in my life this year. To enter into the process of healing. To expectantly hope for what is to come. Tonight, whatever you are going through, whatever burdens you carry, whatever pain, whatever disappointment — I pray Jesus meets you where you are and reminds you that you are His daughter/son. And I pray that you are able to rest securely in the arms of the One who created the heavens and earth and the One who created you and me. I pray that you enter 2018 with expectant hope to experience a living God who adores you and who is pursuing you even this very moment.