As I’ve been entering into my second year of my apprenticeship here in Thailand the Lord has been speaking to me of breakthrough, of going to another level with Him. I originally sensed Him speaking this about worship, but now I’m seeing that He is also wanting to bring me to a greater level of authority, freedom, maturity, and confidence in every area.
But going higher, deeper, further, faster, doesn’t just come for free.
“It’s very simple… Spiritual maturity is always determined by our willingness to sacrifice our own desires for the interests of the kingdom, or for the sake of others. The door that requires the most sacrifice to enter will always take us to the highest level.” (The Final Quest, Rick Joyner)
Simple, but not easy.
Which is why, since stirring my desire for the next level, God has been stripping away desires and motivations I have that are not from Him, testing my heart. I’ve begun to see that I can’t just walk into the next level of what He has for me as I am now, there has to be a change that takes place, a spiritual exchange.
You would think breaking through to the next level would feel like a victory, and maybe it will at some point, but at the moment it feels much more like dying to self.
I just got back from a trip to the Philippines where I spent three days at a family camp. There we crammed 46 girls into a small villa house with only two bathrooms. The weather was steamy, the “centralized sauna” of the Philippines running full blast. I got about 5 hours of sleep each night and then spent the day leading and preparing to lead worship, praying and prophesying over people, teaching, hanging out with the youth girls, and leading my relay team to victory. It was challenging and tolling for my body, but it was also incredibly draining spiritually. A costly but necessary price on the path to the destination God has for me.
My arrival back in Thailand was no easier. The spiritual oppression hit me like a weight upon my arrival in country. In contrast to the hunger in the Philippines, a fog of complacency thickly covers hearts and minds here. Not to mention, some of my closest missionary friends are itinerating in the US for the next couple of months. I came back excited about the progress that was made over the past few weeks but felt like a match being thrown into the ocean. So, instead of returning home and crashing I continued to push through, I continued to press in spiritually for breakthrough.
In the midst of all this, God has once again been inviting me to surrender my most treasured dreams to Him and put them on the shelf in my heart for a time. For some time He’s gradually been loosening my grips on them and finally beckoned me to put them aside to more freely pursue His heart. For me this was and is an expensive spiritual cost.
This is not meant to be a random rant of all the “tough things” in my life. I tell you this to illustrate: we often ask God to take us to the next level but aren’t prepared for the path that He’s marked for us to get there. We want to encounter the fire of God but we aren’t willing to lay ourselves on the altar.
When I was in the Philippines we went to the ocean for the day and went “crab hunting”. I didn’t actually try to catch any of the crabs but I followed the professionals around and carried the bowl of crabs they caught. They happened to fish out a couple of empty crab shells from the water and told me that these empty shells meant that there were crabs much bigger hiding somewhere, they began to outgrow their shells and had to leave them behind to continue their growth process. If the crabs had clung to their shells and refused to let them go, they wouldn’t have grown, maybe they would have even died. But they had to sacrifice their old shell, boldly step out, and produce a new one.
The Kingdom of God is not like the kingdom of this world. Leveling up requires laying down. In order to go further we need to die first. A greater level of surrender is needed to reach a new degree of breakthrough. We can’t expect to walk in something new if we aren’t willing to lay down some of the old first.
So after all, I think this IS all about worship. I’m in the process of giving Him more of me. Like the woman who broke the box of perfume at His feet, I am laying down something costly. I’m exchanging more of my heart, soul, mind, and strength for more of HIM. And if I can learn to approach each day as this sort of exchange, I would learn to live a lifestyle of true worship AND I would walk in even more of what He has for me.