Monday, March 05, 2007
AMAZING GRACE movie, my birthday, and GOD!
I've been wanting to fill y'all in on the details about my 41st bday on. Its just that the days have been so full and by the time I've gotten the wee ones into bed I've been plumb (or is that plum?) wore out. Also, are any of you like this----when something really major happens you find it hard to concisely write it down so you just keep putting it off? That's been me.
So where to start...well, for the most part it was just a nice, simple bday day. The morning was spent at our last Upward Basketball games and the evening was spent at the close-of-the-season prgm. For breakfast we had chocolate covered and blueberry cake donuts. And lunch was Corky's BBQ sandwiches with homemade fixings. The kids gave me sweet gifts and dh gave me money to go clothes shopping. Several friends (including FIAR gals) and family members called, sent packages, ecards, and snail mail greetings. We ended the night with my birthday cake, a BOSTON CREAM CAKE! How could I resist choosing THAT when I now associate this dessert with not only my wonderful time in Mass. with Denise, but also with my FIAR silly gal-pals and my FIAR boards avatar pic!
But sandwiched between those events was what made my bday truly AMAZING!
To celebrate my 41st bday, we took the 4 oldest kids to see the AMAZING GRACE movie. You know you're in trouble when you start tearing up before the first scene has even started!The movie was wonderful. It was such an inspiring story...so well done and such an awesome example of how God uses His people for very special purposes...in this case, to abolish slavery in the western world. When the movie ended and I was spending some alone time with God in the powder room, I said to God..."God, this is a great story. But it took place in the 1700's and slavery is now outlawed here in America. What do you want this story to say to me NOW here in THIS culture?" And I heard God's answer so clearly. He spoke to me about slavery that still exists here in America...spiritual slavery...slavery to sin and poverty. He reminded me that so many are enslaved to addictions and various sin issues. That others are living in poverty so awful that its a trap they can't escape from. Many of these walked into these prisons and shackles by their own choice, but are now desperate to be set free but can't on their own. Others, such as children of abusive parents, are enslaved due to circumstances that they have no control over.God said to me, what are YOU going to do to fight against THIS slavey here in your world?
That hit me hard. I got in the van and started asking the kids what they got out of the movie...after all, I'm a homeschool movie. We just can't GO to a movie, but we have to discuss it and analyze it afterwards. Well then I started sharing and as soon as I started telling them what I had heard from God, I started weeping (not dainty crying, either) and "preaching". I poured my heart and soul out to my family.
My husband and I have been feeling for the last couple of weeks that God is telling us its time to move into a new area of ministry. We've been doing many good things, but He's got something better. And He's calling us to make sacrifices, to be willing to give up some of these "good" things to do the BEST things He has planned for us, and He wants us out of our comfort zone! He's going to lead us into a new mnistry and one to people who we wouldn't normally come into contact with on a regular basis.
The next morning was church. We go to a very informal church with a contemporary, charismatic style of worship service. As we were singing the praise choruses, I was overwhelmed with love of God and passion for Him and what He is doing in our lives. I was pouring my emotions out into my worship...it WAS worship and it was incredible. Then, near the end of that section of the service, our worship leader didn't just end it. He was quietly leading us to just pray or sing quietly and he just kept strumming his guitar as though he were waiting for God to do something.
Well God did! He gave me a BIG nudge to get down front and share with the congregation what God was showing me and challenge THEM to set the captives free! We are fairly new to this church and I've not gone down front to give a "word" from the Lord in 8 or 9 years. This is NOT a regular thing for me. But I went down and shared briefly with the pastor and he got me up front with the mike. As I shared, I again started weeping. The Holy Spirit was so evident I just couldn't hold back my passion. I encouraged those who were Christians to get out of their comfort zone and reach out to those around them who were slaves to sin...show them that JESUS will set them free, He will take off their shackles. And then I challenged those enslaved to allow Jesus to free them from their sins, their addictions, whatever it was that was making them a slave.
Some people were weeping, others raising hands, "amening" the word, etc. When I ended dh and I immediately had to leave the service as I had to take him to the airport for a business trip. We discussed what God had done and what He was telling us but after I dropped off dh and was on my way back to the church, I started having doubts. I started thinking that I had messed up. Offended people. Said things our new pastor wouldn't like. That I might have shared something only meant for dh and I, etc. I walked into the service, sat on the very back row in the seat closest to the door as the sermon was still going on. Our pastor immediately said, "Elysa, I know you had to leave to take Jim to the airport, but I wanted to just confirm that what you said was from God. Today's sermon is on getting out of your comfort zone." WOW! Here I was so overcome with doubts and insecurities and God in his sweet love and concern for me used my dear pastor to immediately aleviate my fears and confirm that I had INDEED heard from Him. In fact, I was told later that when the power point notes popped up on the overhead, the title had "Get out of your comfort zone" in it! And I had no idea. I was clueless that the word I was given to share, was the perfect God-spoken lead in to Brother Freddy's sermon.
I was also told later that the word ministered to many including one of my dear friend's grown sons who has been rebelling against God for years. He and his friend asked for prayer and confessed that they needed deliverance from their enslavement yesterday. God is truly AMAZING!!!! Its amazing to me that He would use such a self-centered, recovering pharisee as myself to set the captives free. Its amazing to me that He would care enough to give me immediate confirmation. Its amazing to me that He wants to continue to use me and my family to share His message of love, hope, grace, and freedom. Its amazing to me that God has not only used me in such an exciting way, but that I'm being blessed beyond belief in the process.
God is good ALL the time, but sometimes that reality is SO apparent that I'm just overwhelmed.
This 41st birthday may not have been the biggest party day of my life, but I can honestly say it was the biggest GOD-filled birthday of my entire life.
Thanks for letting me share my story.
And please, if you are one of those captives hungering to be free, don't stay in those shackles!!!!! Christ has come to set the captives free! He wants to release you from all that holds you back from living in His amazing grace and abundant love.