Faith, Ministry

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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