God has been bringing to mind this past week many things from my history with him. He was reminding me of a time - probably in the mid-90’s - when he began to shake loose some of the bad beliefs I held about him.
It started when I realized something about the bible verse Jeremiah 29:11. It’s my favorite verse in the Bible - “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for your welfare (shalom) and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
What shook me that day was something about that verse I had never fully grasped. The heading on this chapter is “Jeremiah’s Letter to the Exiles.” This was not a letter written to people in times of great victory and harvest - but for a conquered, enslaved people. In the middle of that trial, God said to his people, “Don’t worry, I got you. Love the place where you live and love your lives because my plans for you - even in this tough time - are really, really good.”
Wait! I had always learned God was a stern guy waiting for me to mess up so he could smack me down. How could that God be telling these people that his plans for them were “good?” Shouldn’t he be telling them “I got you and it will be worse next time you mess up?”
I began to search deeper into the nature of God and this idea that he had good plans for me. I had always understood his goodness to be his perfection that I could never attain and his faithfulness was just a tease that I would never be good enough to live up to. God was tantalizing me but the standard he set was too high to reach - and so was all his good stuff..
But this God I was reading about was different than I had ever known - He REALLY was GOOD!!!
Other verses began to jump out of the Bible at me:
Psalms 27:13 - I believe I will look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
John 14:12 - ...Anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works...
John 10:10b - I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
I suddenly realized that God wasn’t a god that was hoping I could “get by,” but he was a God who wanted to fill me and give me the ability to see good things happen beyond my imagination. He wanted to give me MORE!
This revelation drove me to seek out every verse in the Bible and every story I could find that would lead me to this “MORE” that God had for me. I read the miracles of Jesus and heard stories of these things happening on earth today. I had certainly seen supernatural things as a kid but it never seemed something available to me - only too really holy people. God had to begin to shift my understanding of who he is and what his relationship with humanity looks like. God began to challenge my belief system and theology.
One day I read a crazy story about a man who was beheaded and that man’s body picked up his head and walked away. Now, I’ve never been able to fully validate the truth of that story and I’m not even sure that’s something God wants to do. But, as I read that story, I sensed God tapping me on the shoulder and saying to me “Are you ready to believe I can do that?” I got in touch with some unbelief and some wrong thinking I had about God that I never realized was in me. I knew that the picture of God I had held in my heart for so long had to go so that I could position my heart to receive the MORE of God.
This shift in my belief system not only changed my view on the gifts of God, but shifted my view of him altogether. All of a sudden I was in relationship with a God who wasn’t mad at me. Because he wasn’t my at me my desire to draw close to him grew stronger than ever. His kindness truly did draw me to repentance more than his rules ever did.
As my relationship with Father God deepened, my ability to believe he has something more for me began to grow. I cried out - “if there is really MORE, Father, I want it.” He began to fill me with a fresh wave of his Spirit and power. I had dreams and visions and words of knowledge like never before. It was one of the most exciting and unsettling times of my life. It changed everything.
Like most of humanity, however, the fire of that moment waned and the pesky things of life began to pick at my ability to see his power at work in me. The amazing thing was, even as that time drew down - he revealed even more his love for me.
A year ago, this past April, God told me (I believe) in an audible voice, “Get ready, your life is about to completely change.” Those words signaled the start of another rough and rocky period of my life. A time when God started to drill down into some deep-seated pain in my heart. It’s a time I would not wish on anyone around me, the pain was so intense and the realities of my heart were revealed in stark, embarrassing, painful ways.
When I say I wouldn’t wish it on anyone - that is actually not completely true. The process that I have been through from that moment (and continue to go through) has been a season of renewed revelation that is once again shaking my picture of who God is and is again driving me to want the MORE he has for me.
What is the “MORE?” It is the power that raised Jesus from the dead available to us. That power can set us free from sin habits, give us wisdom and insight from heaven, flow through us to others and can bring us into authority in the Spirit that is beyond our imagination. It enlivens us to the idea that we are not victims of culture, we are influencers of culture. The MORE empowers us to be “thermostats” who change the temperature of the atmosphere around us, not “thermometers” who can only measure that atmosphere. Mostly the “MORE” is his work in us to grow our hunger for deeper relationship with him.
God told us during those first days of outpouring to “gather the hungry.” His charge was to join together and run with people who would do anything to get the MORE he has for us. With people who will allow their theology to be shaken. As Pastor Bill Johnson says God wants us to be willing to allow God to “offend our minds” so that he can get to our hearts. That’s a hard things to do.
And, as he shapes our belief system into his, God begins to use our circumstances to shape our character, as well, so that we can bear fruit in the Kingdom as he gives us more power.
Now, having your belief system rocked and your character reshaped is not the most pleasant and comfortable of experiences. But God didn’t call us to have comfort - he called us to have a “peace that passes understanding.” That means we don’t get to understand everything he is doing. I believe a people crazy enough to allow him to do this work in their desire for the MORE can change the world. Just like the church of Acts 2:42-47. We can see a move of the Spirit so great that hundreds can be swept into salvation into the Kingdom of heaven.
So, come on, what would hold us back from wanting the MORE God has for us? I promise none of it is worth holding onto. He has so much MORE! Let’s Go, hungry people! Let’s run after him so that we can see his Goodness while we are yet in the land of living. I believe this is his plan for us in this season.