Hey there. Been a little while, eh? I guess it always will be. My days of writing freedom and waiting for pictures to load and formatting whatnots are behind me. I’ve replaced those days with little people. And I’m ever so grateful, but, you know, extra time in the day for more sleep and things like these would be a serious bonus.
Any way. Whoever you are reading this, if you do not yet know, John Paul (husband) and I were called to another church and assignment recently. I guess more than recently, about 8ish/9ish months ago or so. Called out, released to go, etc. And it has been so good. We are thankful. Our assignment is to serve the youth of our new local church after their youth pastor and his family (our friends, too) went out to serve on the mission field. In between that, we have had a new baby and tried to once again navigate the waters of sleep deprivation and the many other growing pains and JOYS associated with those last weeks of pregnancy and first few months of a new little, completely dependent, life. And with a toddler. Oh my Sam is most assuredly a big kid now who has lots and lots of opinions and strength of emotion and not many fully distinguishable sentences. This mama thing is most assuredly a sanctification process for me–my forever prayer and deepest desire is that I walk in His grace to embrace it. But I digress. Back to the point. YOUTH.
While in the midst of these transitions both personally in our family and marriage and now in our local church, we have felt a burden. A burden for the youth in our community (all along the coast of MS). The burden was very much overwhelming to us at first because we felt we had very little resources to offer. Our time was caught up between Johnny’s ‘real’ job and birthing/rearing babies and serving our own gathering as faithfully as we could each week. And y’all, the enemy works in me so much in over protecting my time at home with my little people and husband. It’s a good thing to be protective and prioritize, but it’s not good when it’s out of fear and not love. I know my Johnny will often feel that pressure oozing out of me and be paralyzed in how to act in service to others. If that makes sense to anyone. Point is, we felt the burden and we felt out of resources. We felt stuck, we felt sad. We felt overwhelmed with the task. But I believe we stayed faithful in the little things…and slowly, as we sought Him, He spoke to us.
In our little teeny area there have been an unprecedented amount of teenage suicides. In one city especially. One was even our next door neighbor’s granddaughter. And in our new ‘role’, but not really a real ‘role’, at church, we (John Paul) can’t devote the time that the youth of our local body need and deserve–since he actually is employed full time elsewhere. And has a crazy wife and two kids under 2. (Poor guy;) But the burden in our heart kept growing. And growing. AND GROWING. You don’t see many teenagers on fire for Christ. Why? Deception, rebellion, apathy, etc. You see lots of them hurting, yes? Why? Isolation, not belonging, false idols, etc. And the answer isn’t more time for us to devote to telling them something. It isn’t a word John Paul could preach, or a hug I could give or a detail I could know about someone if I were able to be around more. I mean, all of those things are GOOD, so good. But they aren’t the answer. Nothing in our own strength will satisfy what the enemy has set out to kill, steal and destroy. The answer is Jesus. ONE TOUCH from Him and hearts are forever changed. One second in His presence and miracles abound. Revival happens, y’all. And when that word–REVIVAL–came to our mind, that’s when things started shifting. That’s when the burden was made real and, in a way, hopeful. The burden became real people. The burden wasn’t ours to carry, but Jesus’. We believe He is just looking for people willing to seek.
“ASK and it will be given to you. SEEK and you will find. KNOCK and the door will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9
The world is ready to capture our teenagers. To get ahold of them before they step out into the world on their own. It’s ready! It’s filled with empty promises that look so, so good on the outside. And when they feel that emptiness, they will fill it. We were built, actually created for relationship with a perfect God. We will search and seek and fill. The enemy seems to have his say in this age range–most of us have even accepted it. But when young, beautiful people take their own lives because of the hurt in the world, I say that’s enough. Enough to get our hearts geared up and burdened for them. Enough to seek HIM for REVIVAL. It’s been so interesting y’all, as we have begun to share this burden and what we believe the Lord has asked us to do in response, there is a similar chord striking everywhere. For unity in the body of Christ and for revival. Of course we ask Him for revival to begin in our own hearts–for Him to do a work in us so that we may obediently respond and move with Him in what He seeks to do around us and through us. But y’all, something is stirring. Something is happening. It is truly exciting.
So, WHAT has He asked us to do you might be thinking?? Well. First, we want to always stake our ground in that we know no formula. John Paul and I do not have the answer. We refuse to think we do and to think we know what’s best. With that said, until He moves us in another way, we believe He has asked us to open our home for a bi weekly night of prayer. Open to ANY youth. Any leader of youth. And for anyone who is called and feels led, to pray along with us, wherever you are, for revival in our teenagers. That each one, EACH ONE, would receive a touch from Him. That they would all experience His presence. And that a holy revival fire would come to our hearts and community. We believe He’s called us to make our home a sanctuary to this age group, that we embrace them the way the world does–with atmosphere, creativity, color, media, etc–but instead of the emptiness, we will offer Jesus. All we want is to usher in His presence. That’s it. But we’ve bought journals, and art supplies, I’ve decorated the inside of our home with Christmas lights, we have music going–we want them to have an un-intimidating space to be still and receive. To see what a vibrant prayer life can look like. To see that God DOES SPEAK. That He has a word just for them. That He will call out their greatness and destiny. HE WILL. We know He will. And we believe those who come will receive. And through that, others will receive. And the Holy Spirit will have his freedom to move and draw many to Himself.
After a few months of prayer and submitting to our authorities and whatnot, we were given the green light to move forward. And almost two weeks ago to the day, we launched! We launched fully knowing that probably no one was going to come, ha! We contemplated cancelling and waiting for a week where more people in our sphere of influence could commit to being there, but we felt God calling us to obedience. So, we did our best to get the word out beyond our kids who were all either otherwise committed to something else or too far from our home to attend, but when 7:30 came, I knew that unless the Holy Spirit just told random people to knock on our door, it was just going to be me, John Paul and little Joshua (Sam was asleep). So there the three of us are, with twinkle lights, candles, worship music, art supplies, bibles and journals surrounding us, and I felt so scattered. Like, what now Lord? So we just did what we knew we would direct the kids to do–be simple, ask Him to speak, open up the word, put a crayon or pen in your hand, just, BE. I felt like John Paul immediately got in ‘the zone’ and I was a bit jealous. I was holding Joshua and trying to get my eyes up on Him, but it just wasn’t working. So I tended to the baby and remembered a conversation I had earlier that week with a friend on Isaiah. She had mentioned that a certain chapter was sort of ‘her’ chapter and I had told her how I felt that same way about another chapter in Isaiah–that it was mine. And in my scatteredness, while surely being moved by the music playing and His presence resting with us, I opened my bible to Isaiah. And I read ‘my’ chapter. And I began to write out part b to a verse I particularly loved, but stopped, almost immediately, because a certain commentary on the opposite page caught my eye. It was a list of Isaiah’s prophecy on who Jesus would be and then where in the New Testament it was fulfilled. I can’t recite it verbatim, but I remember these:
-He will be our substitute
-He will suffer and bear our sorrows
-He will be disfigured
…and it went on.
That’s when my spirit ignited. There I was holding my infant child, becoming fully aware of all the things I desire for him. That he would first and foremost know Jesus and have a vibrant, dynamic relationship with Him. But also, that he would be no one’s substitute, that he would know no sorrow or suffering, and that he would most certainly never be disfigured, or ever feel disfigured in any way. I don’t want him to hurt EVER. I only want him to know the Truth of who he is. He was created with a purpose and destiny. That the living God has called him. That he is fearfully and wonderfully made. He was no accident, he is made perfect by the blood of Jesus. And his life, what God has called him to do, no one else can do. He has purpose that will be called out and made known to him. But I know that one day he will be a teenager. He will be susceptible to so many things that I cannot control. Empty things that will only seek to destroy him. And yes, He will overcome them. But as a mama, I don’t want there to be ANYTHING–no spirit of deception or rebellion–in his path that would divert or create bondage and open a door to the enemy in his life or body. My boys were bought with a price. Jesus became curse so that we would know NO curse.
And while holding my Joshua and praying to my ever-present and living God, I was so very humbled. These children who took their lives, they felt suffering and disfigurement. They were living deceived as to who they ARE in Christ. But Jesus, but Jesus! He knows their hurt. He lived it. That’s our Savior! The things we devalue, the things we push away, those are the things He became. My heart broke for those mamas who lost their children. My heart broke for those children in a new and very real way. Previously to this night, I was still detached from the suicide statistics. I could talk about it and say that’s one of the many reasons we feel led to seek Him for revival, but I was detached. No longer. And I thought of the many kids I know who look like they have it all together, that they don’t suffer or feel isolated. That they don’t ‘need’ me, or Him. That they’ll make it through these years with minimal damage and begin to serve Him faithfully in adulthood. But y’all. The God we serve? He suffered. He was burdened. And we will actively and passionately come before the Throne on behalf of those living in apathy, in ‘plenty’. So that they too may feel the burden in their heart and come to Him. And fight for their friends and peers to know Him too.
So as this dialogue is happening within me, I tell the Lord: if this is not You, tell me. If you need us to change our plans, change them. I pray for humility, to be ever ready to evolve and change as You direct us. But Lord, if you bring the people, I will give them my family. I will not pretend to know the formula, but IF YOU BRING them, I will give them us.
So remember how I was haphazardly writing random things down at the beginning of the night? I looked down at my paper and saw this:
That’s all I had written from part b of a verse in Isaiah. Forgive the picture quality :)
John Paul and a similar experience, but it is not mine to share. The similar chord is–keep this simple, keep it pure, pray for revival, ASK-SEEK-KNOCK, Believe Him, unity in the body, stay humble, be ready to evolve as we see Him move, and, Behold, HE WILL.
If you’re local, please pray about if the Lord would have you involved in some way with this. Whatever that means, I know He will speak if asked. We are hoping to continue to share the word about this and seek more prayer covering over our time and our teenagers. If you are not local, please pray with us. For whatever He burdens your heart for. Please believe Him with us. Revival can come.
Thank you for taking the time to read this long thought :) I appreciate you & I thank you. To God be all the glory.
(every 2nd and 4th Thursday, 7:30-8:30pm)