Recently, a few people have commented on how they most appreciate my singing above my other gifts. I’d have to say that falls pretty low on my list of favorites. The reason being that it exposes who I am. My voice is ME. I can’t hide behind a camera, layers of makeup, a fictional character, my fears…or silence.
Silence is something I clung to because I feared my words would fall on disinterested ears. “People don’t care what I have to say.” Being a Christian I know these are words the enemy uses to stop me from spreading God’s message. Keeping me from loving others with my advice, encouraging words, humor, and music.
I once joked with a high school friend that I didn’t say much because I didn’t want to “waste words”. How in the world can you waste something that has an endless supply?! Regrettably, I’ve held true to that saying for a while now. A few revelations have come in the past two weeks. Interestingly enough, it started at a Youth Camp my church put together (Revolution ’09). I was only able to attend for one day, but that ONE day changed the way I see myself. The way I see God.
Before even setting foot on the camp grounds, I had been praying for God to use me. To set a divine appointment for someone or something that I could put my hand to. For those of you who don’t know what a divine appointment is, it’s when God sets up a meeting for you ahead of time that you have no idea about. He sees a need in you or someone else and creates a moment where you two will run into each other. To some this is known as a “coincidence” or “fate”, but I don’t believe in those. God answered my prayer. A friend introduced me to a young woman who wanted to get into photography, but had no previous knowledge or skill of that craft. We talked about how she wanted to use this gift for God and ultimately showcase the photographs as her Senior Project. Awesome! I glady agreed to mentor her and help to provide her with the skills necessary to reach her goal. This happened not even an HOUR after I arrived, mind you.
Feeling great about myself, I interacted with the rest of the youth and leaders until we were called to the evening service. During praise and worship, I felt at a distance from God. I started to examine myself and I didn’t like what I saw. When it comes to being an example and living my life in a way that’s pleasing to Him, I take it hard when I fall short. Feelings of being unworthy, dirty, and failing start to speak to me and drown out my praises to God. My job as photographer was to catch candid moments and capture the events that took place throughout the day. That camera became my crutch. Whenever I felt I wasn’t living up to my spiritual duties, a few snaps of the shutter would keep those voices at bay. “I’m DOING something. I’m ACTIVE. I’m capturing memories for these kids.” That lie shattered into pieces later.
After the praise and worship came the message. After the message came my humility. The praise and worship leaders encouraged us to pray for the youth. They were lined up into several rows and we were to go through the rows and pray over them. I immediately felt out of place and incompetent. Thoughts of doubt and “I can’t do this. I have nothing to say.” made my decision for me. I picked up my crutch and began walking around taking photos. I figured I had my disguise on pretty tight until one of the leaders came by, “If you feel led to pray for any of the kids, you can. The photography is secondary.” I stood there for a while contemplating what I should do, then a wall of shame came crashing down on me. “I’m a failure. I can’t do this. I’m sorry. I’m a failure. I can’t do this. I’m sorry.”
I couldn’t keep my composure, so I went outside with my back to the tent. Looking to the sky for an answer, all I heard was “I made these.” Out in Waianae, I promise EVERY star was visible that night. Blocking out a lot of the noise in my head was this beautiful pattern God made. “All of these.” The magnitude of that statement somehow put things into perspective. Even though I couldn’t stop the tears from falling, I started to feel comfort from the gems above me. I really can’t explain it, but I felt God presenting them as a gift. “I made these for you.” Wow. I walked away from His children, and He’s giving me PRESENTS!
My tears of self pity slowly turned to hurting for the youth. While I was outside hiding, they had begun praying on stage over microphones with a zeal that made me feel so small. “If THEY can do this, I have NO excuse.” They aren’t ashamed to pray. They don’t let their hurt stop them from firing arrows at the enemy. That passion spoke to me.
Later in the night, I got a second chance. The women’s Youth Leader decided that the girls needed to be prayed over again. Her reason was so they could truly know that God loves them, and speak against whatever was keeping them from experiencing that love. Amen. This spoke to my heart too. We separated them from the guys and into another spot on the camp grounds. This time, nothing was holding me back. I felt renewed and forgiven. I wanted so badly to make up for lost time and for something I should have given them before. I was able to pray over three or four girls during that session–even with the enemy speaking in my ear and telling me my words would fall to the ground–and I was so grateful to hear that one of them got something out of it. That God spoke to her in the time we had together. Amazing.
This is a wonderful story. And it should have been told that night. Or atleast the next day. God has been reminding me that I’ve put Him to the side. One of the reasons I have this website is to minister. I’ve done the promoting of others and put up examples of my work, but a key element to my life is missing here. God. I’ve been so afraid to speak. Holding myself back from getting a very important message out there. I can’t wait anymore,and neither can you. The words I have to say are words you need to hear. If ONE person gets something out of this, it was worth it. I have so many stories/examples/entries I needed to make, but I haven’t started until now.
Yesterday during a quick–too quick–study, I was closing my bible and God asked me for more time. I chose to do something else instead. On my way to sleep, I asked Him to let me see what was happening to my spirit in a dream. It seemed like a thought in passing that wasn’t too sincere, but I guess I meant it. God meant it. In my dream–or nightmare more likely–I was lying in my bed and God asked me to pray. After slowly agreeing to, I opened my mouth and no words came out. I frantically tried to scream, and still no sound. When I tried to get up and reach out, I felt hands pushing me back down and grabbing me so I couldn’t get away. Forcing me down. And shutting me up. Sounds just like my spiritual walk.
My first mistake was disobedience. A saying my mom taught me is “Slow obedience is NO obedience”. It makes me laugh, but it’s true. If had been using my voice, the enemy wouldn’t have a foothold in that area and I could speak freely whatever it was God wanted me to. Saying no to Jesus is saying yes to the enemy. Once I woke up–and I wasn’t so pleasant because it was STILL dark outside–I prayed for forgiveness and for God to help me with my fear.
I brought this up in small group tonight and told them I would choose obedience. I declined an invitation to hang out afterwards because I had my first assignment. I prayed the Holy Spirit would use me here and speak through me to whoever this might relate to. That something in your hearts would click in and give you the answers you’ve been seeking.
I have a favorite scripture that’s come by every now and again to offer confirmation in many situations and it certainly applies now.
“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
There will always be something we do that disrupts the unity we have with God, but his mercy is there to forgive us of those things. We have to make a conscious decision to turn from them and accept the forgiveness for ourselves. Pressing on toward the ultimate goal. It’s the only way to move forward.
I pray these words find you well.
Photos from Revolution ’09 can be found HERE.
[If you have any questions about what I’ve said or what certain things mean, please feel free to drop a line.]