I shared with you what this past summer was like for my family. I watched my sweet wife waste away – losing 20% of her body weight, ravaged by a severe flare up of the Crohns disease she has battled for nearly 30 years. In her weakest state, a blood infection or any other significant body blow and she might not have survived.
Four trips to the hospital. Three full weeks in there. Body blow after body blow. Carrying the weight of what was happening to her, what might happen, the “what if this is it?” thoughts and then on top of that, immense stress in my work and crushing load of work.
And then, my visit in the middle, the worst of the storm to Chick Fil A where it appeared I was invisible. “My pleasure” didn’t fall on me that evening. Employee after employee walked past me as if I was invisible. What on earth is going on? “Lord, do I even matter? Do you not see what all is going on?”
And in the middle of that, I read this …
Olive Trees Lysa Terkeurst
In the garden, Jesus was surrounded by olive trees. We live in deeply disappointing and distressing times. We need an uncommon fellowship with God – where we stand in the midst of being utterly disappointed and we still say, “I will trust you God. Not my will, but thy will.”
Olive trees – to produce fruit, they must have the harsh winds of the east and the refreshing winds of the west. They need hard times and good times to produce fruit. We are the same. Our purpose must go through a process because the heart is naturally hard and bitter.
Like an olive off the tree – which must be salted and soaked in water – if we are to be rid of our hardness and bitterness, we must be salted in the truth and soaked in the living water. We must have that uncommon fellowship with God or we will not be rid of the hardness and bitterness in us.
What is most valuable in an olive is when it is pressed beyond recognition, crushed almost to destruction and yet, the oil is where the value is. It can be turned to light. The hard pressing of life will produce an oil that can be turned into light to show the way to so many.
The word helped because it reminded me, God is with me in the middle of this storm. He has a purpose in this FAR beyond me and my limited comprehension. My particular storm is three years running now and I know beyond any doubt, God has a clear purpose in it. There are many things He wants to knock off of me. He is shaking me, breaking off the former idols, humbling me, molding me, loving me. Too many years of my “high horse” of “I’ve got this, I’m good”. Face plant in the mud. “Now son, let ME shape you. Let ME direct you. My path is far better than you can ever imagine or dream.”
And then … almost smack dab in the middle of the worst of this summer, came this video from Catalyst of Brooke Ligertwood. Please, please, please stay with me. Read this. Soak in it. Like the olive – be salted and soaked in the water. Listen to this man’s story …
I came to Catalyst this year with no expectations of anything for myself. I was kind of on autopilot. I am a 51-year old attorney with my own practice. I teach/preach at my church every 3-4 weeks. I love my wife and kids and take college kids on mission trips twice a year. And yet … yet … I have found myself wondering and dissatisfied. What I am doing in the Kingdom now looks vastly different than the “dream” of what I thought I would be doing.
All of that as background for what happened last Thursday night. Tyler was on stage talking about us experiencing freedom that night. I huddled my guys together and was laying hands on them and praying for them to experience freedom there in that place.
As I was praying for them, I felt a hand on my back from a person in the row behind me. I turned around and the guy pulled me in toward him and said, “I have a word for you.”
I found myself cynical, prideful and unwilling to receive a word for me or even hear it for that matter. I wasn’t paying the greatest attention to what he said but I hugged him and thanked him. Here is what I recall he said…
“The LORD sees you! You are a warrior in the Kingdom. Your impact will be for generations upon generations to come.” And then he said, “Rise up” or “God will cause you to Rise up”.
After he finished I turned to resume worship. Brooke Ligertwood began to read from Judges about Gideon. Now here is where it gets really clear and fuzzy as the same time. She said from stage…
“I have a word tonight but specifically for the man in the sixth row in the orange shirt” … and she was looking right at me.
Understand, I was the only orange or even brightly colored shirt in a sea of grey and flannel and black. I was taken aback because in all my years of coming to Catalyst, I’ve never seen a personal word given from the stage. I began to look behind me to find out who she was talking to and the kid behind me hit me on the shoulder with a huge grin on his face saying, “Bro! Turn back around. She’s talking to you! This word is for you!”
And then she said something like, “God sees you; you are impacting generations” and then she said, “The LORD is going to cause you to Rise up”.
The rest of the night was a tear-filled haze as I was so blown away that the God of the universe took time to speak audibly to little me through his beautiful church in that big arena.
He finishes with this and men, I believe this word is also for you. How I know that? Because this very blog post has been next to impossible to process. System issues, cutting and pasting text won’t work, formatting is messed up … the enemy does not want you to read this next part but I strongly believe this is a word for YOU from your Father …
Here is my takeaway from what God was saying to me that night, in spite of me and my pride and resistance, the Creator Lord singled me out to say …
I love you and I see you!
What you are doing matters!
I know you have felt alone!
I know you have felt abandoned! (or invisible at Chick Fil A?)
I know you have wondered if you have significance in the Kingdom!
I know you have wondered if you should shut it all down and pack it away for a better retirement!
Do not become weary doing good!
Son, keep fighting the good fight! Keep going!
I am not looking for super saints, I want children who keep getting up and refuse to quit!
I am with pleased with you!
What you are doing is a legacy you may never see but is seen by ME!
You keep walking in surrender and I’ll take care of the “rising up” and be sure, I’ll be the One who does it!