Sunday, June 1, 2014

Captured (Part 2)

On November 18, 2012 the L2G Forum post was entitled “Captured.” It included a soaking worship song by Kimberly and Alberto Rivera. There was an error in the song lyrics. This edition of the Forum hosts the corrected version of this amazing melody below.

One definition of “captured” is to attract and hold the attention of an admirer. It’s easy to see how a Christ follower would become enraptured with the graceful lovingkindness of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He called us to Himself while we were yet sinners. He seeks us out even when we’re not seeking Him. He promises to never leave us or forsake us!

However, what’s extraordinarily amazing is that God is taken with and finds delight with ordinary people just like you and me.

Nearly twenty years ago I remember claiming a promise from God upon returning from fourteen years in Spain. In Psalm 18:19 I read, He brought me forth also into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me. I sensed God was promising me that my next phase of life and contribution was going to be a broad place of deliverance, blessing, and largeness (similar to the Promised Land).

On the other hand, I carried so much self-contempt deep within that I wasn’t able to receive the second half of this passage: He rescued me because He delighted in meHe puts up with me because I prayed the prayer, I thought.  Or, He loves me because He promised He would, but He doesn’t like me.

Through the influence of a thin white booklet with the title God Guides by Mary Geegh, I was challenged to deliberately seek to listen to God. Up until this point in my life I heard from God by listening, reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on God’s written Word[1] … but it never occurred to me to seek to hear from Him directly.  After reading a few of the stories in Mary’s book, I was pretty skeptical. It sounded a bit like a fairytale. God might speak to super saints like Moses, David, Paul, and John … but why would He bother with a loser like me.

As a Navigator, I had been introduced to spending a day alone with the Lord through a little booklet written by Lorne Sanny. Although this was a helpful practice that I engaged in four or five times a year, I have to admit that some of these times with God were pretty frustrating. 

Coincidentally, around the time I was frustrated about God Guides, the team I was part of had planned to spend a half day alone with the Lord on a Saturday morning in the foothills Rocky Mountains. We met briefly to pray for our time, and then each of us went off by ourselves. Usually I would spend a lot of time readying in the book of Isaiah during these special times with God. On this occasion I decided I was going  to try to follow Mary Geegh’s example and listen to God.

As I found a quiet place and readied myself to listen, I found being silent without reading, praising, petitioning, or listening to music to be extremely awkward.  Suddenly my quiet place was full of noises. A squawking bird flew overhead, a squirrel rustled in the brush, a jet flew over the mountains, and my foot slipped slightly. I realized I had never been completely silent like this waiting on God like this before and I began to feel anxious.

In the midst of my nervousness and discomfort a thought popped into my mind. I wrote it down. Then another though came. As I wrote one thought down after another I lost track of the time. I even got a bit emotional a time or two. When I looked at my watch, I realized I had spent two hours alone with God without opening my Bible or devotional book I had with me.

Afterward, the team regrouped and shared how our time with God had gone. I teared up as I read some of the things God had communicated: “Rusty, I am for you … for you and not against you. You belong to Me. It really wasn’t you who chose to follow Me when you came to Me twenty-seven years ago in Okinawa. It was I who chose you. I chose you to belong to Me because I love you with an everlasting love. You are Mine!” This moved me profoundly as I read it aloud, maybe even more than when God had first communicated it. Though my first experience in deliberately listening to God started awkwardly, it ended up being rich, affirming, and intimate as I sensed the nearness of Jesus in an unusual and intensely personal way.[2] 

This was one of the first times God communicated His delight in me. It was amazing, surprising, astonishing, and overwhelming. I’ve gone back many times for more. Why? I love to hear His voice. I need Him more than life itself. He has become my very best friend. 

CAPTURED by Kimberly and Alberto Rivera
Listen for His voice in this worship song

[1] Listening to God is a practice that enhances these disciplines of becoming intimately acquainted with the Word of God but should never replace them. The Bible is the final court of appeals regarding what God has said. The personal word from God that comes to us when we listen must always be substantiated by His written Word and character. 
[2] Rusty Rustenbach, A Guide for Listeningand Inner-Healing Prayer: Meeting God in the Broken Places, (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2012), 22.

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