This post has seriously taken me a long time to sit down and pound out. I have been reflecting and praying about my time at Passion 2014 Atlanta, about the intense moments of worship and the messages that so permeated my heart, and I think that I am finally ready to share with y'all. Let's start on night one. Since they did not do community groups this year as the conference was much shorter, on the first night we were encouraged to meet in groups of 5 with people that we didn't come to the conference with (easy for me since I went alone, which is a crazy story by itself) and to spend 15 minutes answering a question and praying for one another. That question - "What do you want/hope to learn from the Lord here at Passion?" - was a tough one for me to answer. I just wasn't really sure what I was hoping for. But then I remembered my word for the year - pursuit - and I realized that the thing I wanted God to reveal was some clarification on how I should begin pursuing some of the dreams/visions He has put on my heart. So I shared that in my group, and we all prayed for one another.
Fast forward to day two. The first speaker of the day was someone I greatly look up to, Francis Chan. He spoke out of 2 Peter 1:3-9, teaching about the Holy Spirit and the things we can do, in His power, to fully partake in the divine nature that God has given to us. What was so emphasized was to "make every effort" to supplement our faith... with goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love. Chan made it clear that through each of those virtues we have a responsibility... we need to be DOING something in order to grow as followers of Christ.
"For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." (v.8)
We are never done growing in our character, and growth in who we are leads us closer and closer to our ultimate calling and thus the dreams that God gives to us. BAM. I remember thinking, "Shoot Lord, okay. You are simply wanting me to grow in my faith, my knowledge, my self-control, etc. and in that I trust You will lead me to the places and opportunities that are a part of these visions You've given me." I realized, through Francis' words, that the Lord was telling me not to strive, or work, or feel like I need to check off a long list of things to do in order to get my dreams going. Rather, I need to just be in His presence, growing in my faith in and knowledge of who He is, serving those around me where He has placed me, and continuing to pray fervently and expect great opportunities that WILL ultimately bring me exactly where God wants in order to make those dreams and visions into reality. Making every effort, one step at a time.
After that I thought the Lord had fully answered my prayer. Wrong, because then out came Christine Caine, the Australian firecracker with a true and vibrant heart for Jesus. Now I could honestly go on and on about her message, it was that good. She started with a portable darkroom, inside of which she had all different kinds of cameras: and old-time camera, a polaroid, and an iPhone. Her point? Back in the day, to take a photograph required a process. One would have to go into the darkroom multiple times to do multiple different things before a photograph would actually result. Nowadays, we take a picture with our phones, upload it to Instagram, and call it a day. No real process, just an instant photo. An instant result.
Enter in 1 Samuel 16, the story of David's anointing to become king of Israel, where Christine reminded us of something that we often overlook: David was anointed at age 17, but didn't become king until he was 37. Y'all, that's a 20 year gap between his anointing and his appointing. And that was her point. In the gap between the anointing and the appointing, God put David through a mighty process, making him more and more into who he needed to be through different circumstances in order that he would be ready to best lead the nation of Israel. In a culture and time when we are so accustomed to the instantaneous [read: we do not do patience well... can I get an amen?] we do not understand the process. We do not understand the gap. But, as Christine pointed out, God builds our destiny and our calling over a long process, over time. It is not instantaneous; there is always a gap between the anointing - the vision, the dream, the clear calling - and the appointing - actually getting to the point of doing it and living it out. I loved that she said, "the degree to which you are willing to endure the process is the degree to which you will fulfill your calling." And that process? It's about getting into the darkroom over and over and over again, each time coming out looking more and more like Jesus. After all, "greatness isn't measured by what we do, but how much we are like Him! It doesn't matter if or how many people like you... what matters is getting rid of self." Embrace the gap, embrace the process, head into the darkroom as many times and for as long as God deems necessary, and then get ready to really live out what God has called you to.
After that I was simply BLOWN away by the Lord's goodness. He had answered my prayer on a level that I never could have imagined, and I what I learned is that I am in the gap. I am in that time between my own personal anointing and the time that will be my appointing, and that means I need to be ready and willing to get into the freaking darkroom. Over, and over, and over until the time when God chooses to appoint me. And I am so truly excited about the process. I believe that in this season, however long it may be (which I suspect will be quite a few years), the Lord is going to challenge me to bigger and tougher things, circumstances that I am sure will that test my faith and make me stronger, and that I will hopefully come out of each situation looking and acting more like Christ. It is also in this season that I know God is beckoning me to make every effort to truly know Him, love Him, and give up my life for His sake. It's going to be an awesome, undoubtedly challenging process... And I really believe that I am ready.