One of those people who has completely spoken truth into my life has been Mandi Mapes. God has totally used Mandi to transform my heart and she doesn't even know. I barely know her. Maybe have spoken two words to her in a choir practice. But, she is just one part of the amazing worship team at Brook Hills. God has gifted Mandi in so many ways, with the voice of an angel, the ability to play many instruments, but most importantly, the mind and the heart to create music and lyrics that completely speak the heart of God's people.
Mandi has been leading worship for about three years now, and after much waiting from our faith family, she has finally put out a full-length album. It's entitled Til I'm Home and you can get it at iTunes. And I urge you to get it.
Much of what Mandi writes tells the story of redemption through Jesus Christ and points us to our eternal home. The chorus of one of her songs pleads:
"This world is not my home,
I'm a stranger in this country,
Jesus in me, won't you pour me out.
I'm ready to abandon all my shiny things,
my family and this American dream
Lord, come take it all from me
until there's nothing left but you."
If that's not a prayer for the life that we should be living I don't know what is.
Over the holidays, I finished reading John Eldredge's book Desire. It's a fantastic read and I recommend it to everyone. But it struck a chord with me personally because it hit straight to the heart of what I've been dealing with over the last couple of years.
I've been struggling with what my purpose is in this life. I feel called to greater things that what I'm doing right now and that's hard for me because I've worked so hard (and my parents have shelled out a lot of money) to get where I am right now. Now, I feel God calling me to a completely different arena.
I've talked (read: blogged) a lot about how my desires have slowly become what God desires and how my perspective on that has completely changed. Eldredge points out that we shouldn't be afraid of desire because desire fuels life and prayer and accomplishment. If we don't desire anything, then we are dead in our tracks. It's what we do with that desire that is the key.
"The clue to who we really are and why we are here comes to us through our heart's desire. But it comes in surprising ways, and often goes unnoticed or is misunderstood. Once in a while life comes together for us in a way that feels good and right and what we've been waiting for. These are moments in our lives that we wish could go on forever. They aren't necessarily the "Kodak moments"...More often than not they come in subtler, unexpected ways, as if to sneak up on us...Something in your heart says, Finally--it has come. This is what I was made for."
"...even though we sleep, our desire does not. It is who we are. We are desire. It is the essence of the human soul, the secret of our existence. Absolutely nothing of human greatness is ever accomplished without it."
I don't want to give too much of the book away but the basic take-away I got from the book was that my desire should draw me closer to God, not because I'm pleading with him for that desire to be fulfilled (which we should be doing anyway), but because my desire should be rooted in God in the first place.
If we are followers of Christ, then we are heirs of God's kingdom. I never really understood what that meant until I read this book.
"...when Genesis declares we are God's image, it is describing not certain qualities of our character but capacities of our nature. This is why when the essence of our likeness to God is announced, it is in the context of our position upon the earth, our place in creation....Our original design was for a life of creative rule, to share in the overall care and development of God's creation."
"His plan is for us to develop, as apprentices to Jesus, to the point where we can take our place in the ongoing creativity of the universe." (The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard)
When we all get to heaven (sing it with me now, WHAT A DAY OUR REJOICING THAT WILL BE!), we won't just be sitting around strumming harps and eating an unlimited supply of Krispy Kreme donuts with no consequences. We will be participating in the ongoing production that is the creation and sustainment of the universe.
WHAT?!? How cool is that? We will be apprentices to Jesus! Jesus doesn't just sit on a throne next to his dad and watch life go on like it's an Oscar-nominated drama. He's directing the entire show, people! Therefore, if we are co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17) and made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26), we won't be spectators in heaven. We will be participants.
I don't know about y'all but that makes me PUMPED to get to heaven.
So, with that said, how do I get to heaven. We'll I've already taken the first step (enter into a relationship with Christ). The second step? Either I die, or Jesus comes and gets me. Those are my choices.
I kind of think it would be cool to be alive when Jesus comes and gets me. No joke. But how do I make that happen?
Well, the Bible tells us that Jesus ain't coming back until the whole world has heard His name. When the ends of the earth are reached for him, and all the work that he started here is complete, then he'll come back. (Matthew 24:14)
So what does that mean for me?
In words of Niecy Nash, I better "git to gittin'."
Y'all, the gospel isn't going to get up on a Delta airplane and ship itself to the Middle East. And it's not going to put on suit and walk into your workplace tomorrow and share itself with your co-workers. Actually, if God wanted it that way, he'd make it happen. I mean there is that "the rocks will cry out" verse in the Bible.
But what a privilege it is that God has picked us out to be his instruments to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth.
We were once the ends of the earth. Just ask that Columbus guy.
So, in conclusion (because obviously I'm writing a thesis here), what are you going to do with your desire?