Oh, how He loves us!

Well it’s been quite a weekend. We had our annual West Texas Girl’s Conference and it was fantastic. I wrote about last year when the theme was “Crave”. This year the theme was “Journey”. The keynote speakers were awesome. My friend Christa Black spoke and really pinpointed some areas in my heart that haven’t seen the surface in awhile. I decided it was time for a purifying spring-cleaning. That was affirmed when I stumbled into the prayer room and a girl I’d never met before prophesied and spoke over me about a pure heart and said some things that I’ve been praying over myself about being a light to others and someone people can trust and confide in. I love it when God does that.
So I thought my day was pretty much over. The only thing left was something called “campfire” and our last keynote speaker. I wasn’t sure what “campfire” was and I was almost a little apprehensive because I’d heard we’d be sharing our stories. That’s satan for you, putting fear in your heart when he knows God has something powerful to say through you. Sarah announced that it was Campfire time and what that would consist of. Basically we were told to pair up with a girl we didn’t know and share a portion of our story with them where we could see God at work and then pray with them. Well great. How awkward. Now I have to find some girl and try not to look stupid while I think of something to say. But it didn’t work out like that.
I turned around to grab one of the middle schoolers from our church because after all I didn’t REALLY know her that well, right? That’s not cheating… right? I was trying to take the easy route. The safe route. But God was working out a different plan instead. He’s good at pushing or sometimes shoving us out of our comfort zones. As I turned around to talk to the middle school girl, I heard my friend Farryn, who was working at the conference, call my name and run toward me with another girl. She asked me if I’d please pray with this girl. She thought we’d be a good match. As I sat down to talk with this girl I could see the pain, I could sense her wounds. They weren’t scars yet. They were still wounds…that burned and ached. After introducing ourselves to one another and finding out she was a 6th grader here in Abilene, we got started with our stories. She said she wanted me to go first. I talked for maybe 30 seconds about myself and then turned it over to her. Without any hesitation she began telling me how she constantly gets made fun of at school because people think its funny that her dad used to beat her and her mom. Before he left, that is, when he heard her mom was pregnant. She told me how she’s really never had a friend before and how the girls at the bus stop before school make fun of her. She goes to church all alone. She catches the church bus every Sunday. I could see the shame and the hurt in her darting eyes. But there was something about her that just drew me in. She wasn’t crying. (I was!) She was smiling and minutes later engaging in a conversation with me about which Jonas Brother is the cutest. I asked if I could pray over her. I really don’t know what words I said. It’s like you’re supposed to be prepared for this, right? Evangelizing to a little girl who’s alone and abused. But that’s not what she needed. She didn’t need religion preached to her. She needed relationship given to her. It was in that moment that I clearly saw the gap between religion and relationship. Religion is lame. What we’ve made of it is pure garbage. But a relationship with Jesus… Now that’s what I want!! It’s raw, it’s real, it’s freeing. He wants to talk to you and walk beside you in every single area of your life. He knows everything about you. That’s what this girl needed. She needed to know how beautiful she is. Because no one has ever told her that before. When she looks in the mirror she sees shame and abuse and who knows what else. But that is such a big LIE! The devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He wants to steal your inheritance, he wants to KILL you and he wants to destroy your life. And the only one who can give him power is ourself. I don’t want him to have that power over me or my new little friend. After I prayed over her I gave her my number and told her to look me up on Facebook. She let me buy her Christa’s book, and that was all. She left. I don’t know if I’ll ever see her again but she’s forever marked in my heart. She IS joy. Horrible things have happened to her and she’s able to laugh and smile about life. I didn’t teach her about Jesus in those 15 minutes. She taught me. I saw the angels protecting her life. And while God didn’t lean down and strike her dad with lightening while he was beating her, I can guarantee that His tear was the first to fall. He had to watch his Son be beat to death on a cross. I just can’t imagine. I seriously have no idea how blessed I am. And I don’t have to travel to another country to see the pain. It’s at my school, it’s on my street, it’s in my own town with girls just like me. I hate it so much. I hate that this girl is dreading going to school this week because she knows she’s going to get made fun of. She knows she doesn’t have any friends to talk to in class or laugh with after school. I hate how mean girls can be. But typing that last sentence is nothing but hypocritical. Because that’s me. I’m not the one making fun but I’m just as guilty. Because I’ve become immune to the “outsiders”. I don’t make a point to share relationship with them. So I’m just as rude as the other girls. I don’t know why I’m living the life I’m living. I don’t know why my story has been so blessed compared to so many others. But I do know that God knows the reason. He’s written my story His way and His fingerprints are all over it. I’m at my school for a reason. I’m in my neighborhood for a reason. I have the friends I have for a reason. And I met this precious little angel today for a reason. And I intend to make all of these things count. My story is nowhere close to finished. I have many empty pages, and I can hardly wait to see how God fills them. It’s a beautiful story that intersects with His in many ways. When He looks at us, He only sees beauty. It’s impossible to look ugly to Him because we were made in His image. Our scars are gorgeous. They utter words that can’t be spoken. They show that we’re real and much in need of a savior. He’s just here to love on us. He has no anger toward us, only pure, unconditional love that casts out ALL fear, ALL demons, ALL imperfections, ALL lies. He’s so good. And when we finally surrender to His love we can finally feel His grace that He LOVES to pour out freely. There’s no condemnation. Only love. Perfect, unconditional love that we can receive new revelations about for the rest of our lives. It’s that deep. It’s that wide. The Good Shepherd loves His sheep.

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