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i was there

5 February 2013

Have you guys ever had a time that was really rough and you know, because the Bible tells you, that God was there… but you didn’t feel Him?

Yeah, me, too.

David and I attend a church that bought an old flower shop and converted it into a place of worship. It has huge windows in the sanctuary that face Michigan Ave. There is something beautiful, and sometimes sobering, about those windows – when we worship, you can see on it from the street. But, it isn’t about pride, it is about being real. We don’t want people to see us praising God and say, “Wow, look at those devout people. They are great.” We want people to see us worshipping and say, “They have such joy. Why is that? How can I have that?”

I like to stand by these windows and look out into the busy streets of Dearborn while I am worshipping Jesus. I guess it is because I desire to see Jesus move among the Muslims I see everywhere I look. I guess it is because I want those homeless people to have a home in Christ. I guess it is because I want Michigan Ave to be known for revival.

The Dearborn House of Prayer meets in that sanctuary every Friday night. Those are some of my favourite times – people passionate about Jesus and transformation coming together to lift high the name of Jesus… coming together to lift up those in needy. There is nothing like crying out to the Creator in agreement.

I remember when we were first allowed to meet in that building. It was about a year and half ago. We were in the beginnings of what we called “The Pre-Call” (because it happened before “The Call”). A strike team came from Kansas City to prepare the spiritual atmosphere for “The Call”. It was mostly a bunch of college-age kids who are on fire for Jesus. They would minister to people in Dearborn and Detroit and lead worship and prayer services almost every night of the week. That was my first real taste of apostolic prayer. The first night I was there, I went during an altar call for worship leaders and those in the arts. (God had spoken to me a few months before telling me that I was to be an intercessor and worship leader.) I don’t know who she was. I don’t know her name. I don’t know what she looks like. But. A young woman prayed over me. The only thing that I remember in the whole thing she prayed and spoke over me was that God told her the meaning of my name without her knowing it. My name means “the morning star.” Growing up, I had a friend who was an extremely conservative Christian (like women don’t wear pants, cut their hair, pray aloud or speak in church) who was interested in me. After realizing that if I were to end up with him I wouldn’t be able to pursue the dreams that God gave me, I made it clear to him that I was not interested in him and that he needed to back-off… so he began telling me that Venus is referred to as the morning star… and the devil has something to do with Venus. So my name is the name of the devil? Or something dumb like that. Now, an educated adult, I know that he was just making stuff up because he was angry. But, when I was young, without self-esteem, and hurting from bullying because of my name that I endured almost every day of my childhood, I started to believe it. After awhile, filled with reading the Bible (and seeing JESUS called “The Morning Star” several times), I stopped thinking my name was evil. But, that ushered in a whole new process: why was I named something that is a name of Jesus? I don’t live up to that, but I don’t believe that people are named things in vain. So… what gives? Well, along comes this young woman who doesn’t know me. And she starts saying things like, God gave me my name. That I am to be a bright light, like a star. That I am to be like Esther in the Bible. (Esther means star, I just discovered.) That moment started a craving in my heart, a deep longing, to be really plugged in to Jesus.

The day after The Call, David hosted an event called “The Forty Nights of Worship”. And it was exactly what it sounds like. We were there almost every night. During this time, God began showing me all the areas in my life He wanted to heal, except I didn’t see it that way yet. I was devastated by all the wounds in my heart. I cried out to God night after night by the window. “Where were you? Where were you?” I was about to be married, but my heart was broken in pieces and people were talking about me, expressing concern and doubt that we were making the right decision. I had this name that I didn’t feel like I could live up to and this heart that was broken beyond repair. But, God knew.

After time, I saw that my heart had already begun to heal by the power of Jesus’ love. By the time David and I married, I was a different person. But, I kept seeking after God, longing to know that I bless Him and that I can make a difference. I kept striving to learn to worship Him in a way that blesses Him, not just in a way that feels good to me. And He started opening my eyes to new things in the Word. He began speaking things to my heart.

He began whispering, “I was there. I was there.” I didn’t hear at first, but He kept telling me. And He started showing me, too, through sermons and homilies at church and the House of Prayer. He told me that without the Holy Spirit opening our minds to understand, we can’t know God. At all. And all while His whispering, He showed me the time when I was a child, only four years old, sitting on the couch with my mother when I asked Jesus into my heart, into my life. I told her, “Mommy, I want Jesus to be my friend.” I remembered knowing, as a very young child, that I could not live without Jesus. Man. Please know that I am not boasting. I am not better than anyone… if anything, I am worse off because I have known Jesus this long without gaining the wisdom that should come with it. But there He was. That was God. Because from that moment onward, I had this hunger and thirst for more of Him. And you cannot have that desire without God.

Now, when I stand by those windows and worship, I sing, “You were there. You were there.” And I look out those windows with tears in my eyes and I say, “He is there.”

He is there.

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