Heaven Come Down

{I wrote this after returning from the IF:Gathering a few weeks ago and am just now getting around to posting it:)}

My head is still spinning from the last few days, and I’m not sure I have enough perspective to articulate it well. I’m sure I’ll gain more as I go, but there’s something powerful about sharing from the “in-between,” so that’s what this is an attempt to do.

Let me first say this: I recoil at words like “world-changer” and “visionary.” Not for others, but for myself. I am a practical, deliberate, detail-concerned, often-too-nervous-to-get-in-the-boat-much-less-rock-it” kind of girl. And I’m not saying I’m proud of it; I’m just setting the stage for what I got to experience.

By nature, I’m a questioner. A doubter. A skeptic, if you will.

I’m sure I’m painting a picture that makes you dream of being my friend-what with all my positive traits and such.

But I think that’s why this weekend meant so much to me; because I didn’t see it coming the way others did.

In case you haven’t heard much about the IF:Gathering, the heart of it was a group of women coming together regardless of denomination and background and asking Jesus to bless our time as a collective whole. Through worship, teaching, prayer, and earnest desire to know Him and serve Him well, we just let it unfold.

As I hope was the case for everyone there and everyone who watched online, I heard from the Lord in specific ways throughout our time together. It wasn’t show, and it wasn’t perfectly coordinated or planned. In fact, as a part of the leadership team, I’ll give you this little glimpse behind the scenes.

We spent a whole lot more time as a team on our knees than we did micro-managing.

And whenever the Spirit lead Jennie to change something, no matter how absurd it may have appeared, she did it. She continually backed away from any plan she could have concocted and simply said she trusted the Lord and she trusted us. She didn’t flinch when there were challenges; she nodded. And I was moved by that trust many times this weekend, wondering if I would have done the same.

I won’t blubber on about the team that pulled this off, although I certainly could. These women are sisters to me in a unique and powerful way-a path that was carved from the purest motives and the most willing hearts I’ve ever encountered. There were hard conversations over the months, and many text messages asking for prayer and wisdom. But I hesitate to say more, and I’ll tell you why:

I don’t want you to feel like you aren’t a part of it.

That was our intention from the very beginning. How can we make it accessible? How can we frame it so it doesn’t look or feel like a clique or a cliché? How can we tell these women that we are for them, with them, and family to them?

If you were there, or if you watched, I hope you felt that. Because the heart of IF is the unity of women, and I think we have just scratched the surface of what’s possible.

On the way home yesterday, I cried on both of my flights. And for the record, this was not turbulence-induced, which goes straight into the noteworthy category. I listened to one song over and over (it’s called Spirit Break Out by Kim Walker-Smith…good stuff), and in the lyrics she talks about heaven touching earth. Staring out the window, miles above the streets, I had a thought I had never had before.

Do we really want that?

We hear the phrase often: heaven come down.

But in our heart of hearts, would we really want it?

If heaven came down, and all the people in it, we would have to acknowledge a few things I think might challenge us. Like the fact that we’re shoulder to shoulder with the guy we argued with on Twitter about what a Scripture passage meant.

We’d be looking in the eyes of people we had ignored our entire lives.

If heaven came down, we’d have to admit that maybe (just maybe) our humility should have trumped our pride a little more often.

But the issues, you say…all the issues…

And I hear you. But I need you to understand that the issues are secondary compared to loving like Jesus loved. They don’t go away, and we don’t have to turn in our conviction-cards in order to live in community.

Without question, I would be considered one of the more conservative members of IF, but listen. We never lined up according to our stances; we circled up because of Him. We didn’t wear badges to identify our opinions about women in ministry or how old the earth is.

It’s pretty hard to look people in the eye when you’re standing in that sort of line, isn’t it?

Ultimately, this is what made me cry on the way back to Nashville; the sense that I’ve lined up more than I’ve linked arms out of my own fear of being misunderstood. And at some point, I have to acknowledge that heaven looks more like a circle than I have cared to admit. At a very basic level, I’m saying there is at least a chance that I’ve been wrong about some of the convictions that kept my sisters at arm’s length. And for some reason I just don’t imagine I’ll be sharing eternity with them while continuing to hash out our differences.

Am I saying you should loosen the grip on your beliefs? Absolutely not.

I’m saying you should simply make sure you are embracing people with the same fervor.

So that’s my challenge for you today: live like heaven came down.

In your neighborhood, in your friendships, and even in the places you wander online. I saw a glimpse of it in a crowded music hall in Austin, and I’m convinced it’s beautiful, and maybe even more surprisingly-that it’s possible.

 

 

 

 

 


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  • http://martysmoosetracks.blogspot.com/ Marty

    So, so powerful. I’ll be thinking on this for a WHILE. Thank you for sharing, Angie. :)

  • http://kriscamealy.com/ Kris Camealy

    I was blessed to be there at IF in Austin, and I couldn’t agree more. It was a beautiful weekend, and God surely touched our hearts there. I love that song you mention, and also listened to it on repeat once I got home. Still listening in fact….

  • http://tuningmyhearttopraise.blogspot.com/ ro elliott

    I love what I am seeing in your young gereration….letting love erase lines that love never draws…I am a recovering black and white ….heavy on judgment …light on mercy lover of Jesus…but thanks be to God…He never tires of us…He woos us no matter how stuck and old we are…and I am finding freedom I could have never dreamt possible? My eyes are being opened and my heart is splitting in pieces…love wins…grace is not cheap. I encourage you all to keep following hard after His heart…you spur me one…I think you can spur those of my generation to keep letting God change us. blessings and grace~

    • Natalie

      I love this phrase you used, “recovering black and white”. Thanking God for grace, thank you for reminding me to.

  • http://lindseynobles.com Lindsey Nobles

    Love this Angie. So thankful that I get to circle up with you.

  • http://inspiredrd.com InspiredRD

    I love this. And from my seat, I definitely felt the unity (I even felt compelled to blog about it because I just felt like people should know – http://inspiredrd.com/2014/02/humility-grace.html).

  • paige

    show beautiful angie girl!! i loved listening to you & annie. i loved listening to the little parts i heard from my lap top here in atlanta! its amazing to be here during this time when a generation of women is rising up to connect with HIM in a new way, linking arms in a circle…yes!!

  • http://www.angelastrand.com/ Angela_Strand

    I gathered with a group of about 20 women and we watched IF on a big screen at our church. We stood and sang, when you all stood and sang and we broke up into small groups, when you all broke up into groups. God moved in that room! We ugly cried, talked about dreams and we grew closer together as daughters of God.
    It was so good and so needed.
    Next month, we’re doing the IF: Dinner also. I’m excited.
    I would have loved to be there in person with you all, but it didn’t work out this time. However, our local gathering was really special.
    When Ann Voskamp spoke, I had to be home with my kids while my husband worked for a little while. I watched her online in the kitchen while my 3 little ones watched Dora. I’m convinced that our God even meets us in the kitchen! It was SO good, even though I watched while folding laundry. :) Angela

  • SarahPinault

    Just like Angela Strand here in the comments. I gathered with 20 women, in Maine, and watched in our fellowship hall. We sang, we ran long in our break out sessions, we threw ourselves wholeheartedly into this. And I can say, watching the call on our Women’s Ministry leader’s life, that she felt as if she were there planning it with you. Planning our event, leading our women in service and worship and praise and everything else that came. There was dreaming, there was ugly crying, there were late night facebook conversations from home. Women gathered across the nation and it was A-MAZING! And being British, I got to stand up and yell AWESOME with Christine Caine and love the sound of the word!

  • http://www.jenwagenmaker.blogspot.com/ Jennifer Wagenmaker

    Yes!!! I love this. I have just discovered this group and have been reading up on what it is all about.. Its a MOVEMENT. I Love it! Oh God – send the laborers. Show us who we are. Teach us to follow You. (Ps. 25:4). Everyone matters. When we all find “our place” – We all win. Bless you and this team. Fighting with you. <3

  • Erika Wilde

    Yes. I love how you said maybe, just maybe our humility should have trumped our pride a little more often. That really has had me thinking since I read this yesterday, and yes, this is a little random! I realized that there can even be a pride in how open we are about our brokenness. Humility says that maybe you aren’t ready to share your heart or be vulnerable or go there. I can easily write them off – they are so fake, look how open I am! When it could be that they just don’t feel ready or safe… Pride pushes and humility gives grace…

  • http://beandkeepbeing.blogspot.com/ Jenny Barker

    Such beautiful, powerful, and hopeful truth here, Angie… and good, soul-searching questions as well. I watched IF from afar, wishing I had come to Austin, yet still feeling like I was a part. Jesus met me in many ways that weekend and it blew me away. It was just what my heart needed. I’m grateful and blessed. And the journey only continues…. Heaven come down. Yes…

  • Heather

    Angie, I enjoyed reading your perspective that you were doubting and skeptic about IF. As much as I was intrigued about it, and as much as I love Jennie Allen’s enthusiasm, I was doubtful too and it kept me from registering for IF (timing wasn’t great for me either). But then, on the Monday after IF, I was able to watch many portions online and I was amazed at how wonderful it turned out and how it really did seem that God’s hand was in it. He united women of different denominations and opinions but for the most part ignored the differences and instead highlighted the similarities. We all believe God is REAL. We all believe Jesus died to pay for our sins. We all struggle against sin and the devil. Really, that’s all that should matter.

  • Heather Terry

    Angie I have followed your blog (on and off, I must admit, because that’s how I roll as a blogger myself, lol!) for several years and I love your heart. This is what we have been hearing from our preacher also, but worded a bit differently. Thank you for your honesty, encouragement, books (we did What Women Fear last year as a bible study and LOVED it) and just your love for God. You inspire me.

  • http://amoveableme.com/ Jacquelynn

    I have been LOVING that song, and now I am going to think about it differently when I hear it again. I am so excited to have found your website! I have been loving the IF studies and listening to the audio from the gathering. I want to start reading your book “Chasing God” tomorrow!

  • http://therightvolume.com/ Samantha Livingston

    I’m new here and wanted to let you know I enjoyed this. Looks like yours is an important voice at that gathered table of gals. :)

  • http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IVOMI8Y Melody Lynn

    Beautifully stated!

  • YM

    Your heart will melt with the pictures of this post. Go check them out!
    http://roadlesstraveledblog.blogspot.mx/2014/05/34-week-ultrasound.html
    Look carefully at the pics!

  • http://jumpingoutoftrees.com Rebecca

    Maybe this isn’t the proper place to post this but I didn’t see a place for general comments. Today I listened to you speak at Father’s House. I effected me with both tears flowing down my face (goodbye eye make up) but also really touched my heart. Thanks for your fantastic message. It really resonated with parts of me that have known pain. Thank you.

  • http://stevesimms.wordpress.com/ Steve Simms

    Embracing people with fervor — even when they disagree with you — is great advice. Thanks!

  • http://suedetweiler.com/ Sue Detweiler

    Your passion comes through! God is at work in you. Thanks for bringing the rain.