God of Impossible

“Trust Me Darling; trust Me, and believe in impossible again.” Before me stood a tree, full of stature and strength, leaves swaying gently in the breeze, standing steady under the radiance of the late morning sun. Believe in impossible again. Those words rang through my head as I stared up at the massive oak. Believe. Breathe. Listen. Stillness invaded my being; at once all those swarming thoughts ran still, peace swept over me. As I closed my eyes and lifted my face Heavenward, I heard the voice of the Lord say, “and they shall rise on wings like eagles. They shall run and not grow weary; they shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31). I will comfort those who mourn and will grant to them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified (Isaiah 61:3).  “Let Me be glorified in all I am doing in and through you. The winter has gone and the spring has come. What I plant shall never be uprooted. What I bring to existence, no man shall separate.” My heart sang with the goodness and mercy of the Father. In His infinite wisdom and might, before the foundations of the world, He knew and planned for this very moment; all things work together for the good of those who love Him, and as I stood at the foot of the tree, I saw a small glimpse of that He was working for my good: freedom, trust, life in abundance, and passion, beautiful, beautiful passion that grows out of roots dug deep into the goodness of God. He had spent the past season preparing the soil, digging my roots deep, testing to see if they will withhold the storms that come, and planting me in Him, that He may be glorified. My heart sang in the light of His glory and grace. Only a good God could love me this much. I couldn’t help but sing out my praise to Him, yet the only utterance I had was, “I have found the One whom my soul loves. His name is Jesus.”

His name is Jesus.

In the past couple of weeks, I have seen a spiritual rock bottom that I have not seen to this extent before in my own heart. My view of God shifted, and I grew easily angry and bitter at the lack of breakthrough I was seeing in my life and in the life of my daughter. Yet, even when I could not see clearly, God was working everything for my good and for His glory. Trials are for the glory of God to be seen in our lives. They are for His glory and our good. Within the past week, the Lord restored hope to the point of wreaking me in a puddle of tears over the fact that He is so good. Beloved, God is good. No matter what you are going through, know that He will work it for your good. Even when we do not see it, He is working it for His glory. So, what are we living for. Are we living to see His glory revealed in us, or are we living to see men moved by how we act and live? These past couple weeks almost wreaked me, and I was not living to see His glory; all I was seeing were my issues and failures, and because of that place I was living from, abundant joy was not present. He knows what we need and what is best for us. Learning to abide in the shadow of the Almighty is where we find rest. “Brothers and sisters, rejoice when you face testing of ANY kind. For the testing of your faith produces steadfastness; and let steadfastness have its full effect that you may be perfect, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).  I don’t know about you but if there is a way I can be lacking in nothing, I want to seek it out with my whole heart. I want to worship the Father from a place of faith, rejoicing in hardship because pruning WILL always lead to new life. Living bowed low before our King of kings leads us to find fulfillment in Him.

This is an except taken from a prophetic vision Charolette Baker gave in 1891. It is called The Eye of the Needle: The Gate of Worship, and I am beyond obsessed with it. I highly recommend looking up the entire speech. It is incredible and definitely worth the read. “The Word of the Lord came to me, “Go now and tell this people before you, I have given unto this people extreme talents and much ability.  But I say unto you today, if you do not come through the very small gate, which is the gate of worship, and bow low and lay before me thine instruments, thy talents, abilities, vision and power, thou shall always be among those who will only be able to minister to the hearts of men, and bless the hearts of men. But there is a gate open to the Church in this hour, a very small gate. And through this gate, only men and women who are worshippers will go.  These people will lay their talents before their God. These people will say, “God, we will be Your worshippers.”  Through that wide gate they will come and they will arise on the other side, not to minister unto men, but to minister unto their God. I have brought you together this day, to make unto you a choice.  You can minister unto men and I will cause you to sway the hearts of men with your talent.  Or, you can go through a very small gate, that is “the eye of the needle, the gate of worship,” and while making new worshippers, you will minister unto the King of Kings and Lord of lords!”  

The Lord is raising up oaks of righteousness who will withstand any storm. They will be a planting of the Lord, pointing to Him and leaving all glory to His name. Take courage for He has overcome the world. “Breathe child. Believe. Breathe. Listen. Believe in the impossible again. We serve the God of the impossible. He makes lame men walk, blind see, deaf hear, and each and everyone of us believe. He is good. Period. End of story. Join me in choosing to believe this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTV_oEJ5-Gw

Rest Easy Little One

Her eyes jolt open at the sound of the waves crashing upon the rocks. Her hair follows the gusts of the wind, thrashing across her face. It’s getting stronger now and the mist of the water is being pulled quicker and harder up upon the rocky shoreline. This beautiful scene at the edge of eternity has quickly turned to a dark, cold, unnerving night. She’s lost sight of the lighthouse. She frantically spins around, searching, feeling, listening. “It’s got to be here!” Just thirty minutes earlier she could see in front of her, but the sun has set, and the storm is coming. She knows she must get to the lighthouse. There she can weather the storm, safe, dry, hidden, warm, and found. Just like that, as though the lighthouse itself heard her plea for help, the lantern comes roaring alive, flashing back and forth, all around, calling ships to safety. She may be on the shore, but the rocks are jagged, the wind is strong, and the lighthouse is far. She begins the journey towards the light. Ten steps in she slips on the wet, rough rocks. A searing pain rips up her left calf causing her to cry out. She can still see the lighthouse, but she cannot reach it. She continues stumbling around in the dark, up and down the rocky shoreline. Step by step her strength is failing. Tears stream down her face as she realizes she cannot make it on her own. When it seems like hope is lost, at the edge of giving up, the rock in front of her lights up. She stars at in in shock. Timidly, she steps on to that light. As her foot gingerly touches the ground, another rock in front of her lights up. Her pace quickens as she realizes what is happening. One by one the rocks come alive, leading her straight to the lighthouse. Sanctuary, rest, and peace are finally hers. As she enters the large wooden doors, a voice gently whispers, “Welcome my child. Be still for you are safe. Rest now.”

This picture is one God gave a friend of mine for me about a year ago. As he prayed it over me, I knew it had great meaning, but in that season, I could not grasp the magnitude of it. Recently God took me back to the journal containing this image, and He added to it. These past weeks, I have learned to understand a greater meaning of what is happening in that picture. We are all that girl. We wander out to the rocky shore, not realizing night is coming and a storm is brewing, then we find ourselves stuck on the jagged shore with no way to return to safety. Stress, worry, doubt, and fear are all emotions that get us on that shoreline. We have taken on a burden that is not ours to carry and have wandered outside the umbrella of grace that is our Lighthouse, yet, we know the Lighthouse, and we long to return but find we do not know the direction to go. The Lighthouse roars alive, and we try, in our strength, to charge Home, and yet we stumble. We fall and we get beaten down. But God, in His infinity glory and love, leads us. His rod and staff comfort us. His rules and direction keep us where we thrive. He shows up, step by step, and as we walk in faith, the next step is revealed, and so on until we reach Home. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23).

This whole idea of step by step is crucial that we grasp and understand in its fullness. When the young girl would step on one of the rocks that was alive with light, then, and only then, would another rock in front of her come alive to lead the way. This is the same with our Father. He gives a little prompt, and tenderly waits to reveal the next part until we follow in obedience of what He has already said. If He revealed the entire plan, we would run ahead of His time, hurt ourselves, and blame Him (Jana Viljoen). He longs to walk in the cool of the garden with us as He and Adam were one back in times of old. He longs for relationship and partnership. Are you longing to see miracles in your life, to receive prophecy, to clearly hear His thoughts for other people, and to see healing come when you pray for others? So often I have people tell me they cannot believe the gifts are for today because they are not seeing them. My challenge is simply this. You will see them as you walk in obedience to His voice. He wrote us an entire book already. When we truly lay down our lives and follow that in a step of faith and obedience, another rock will light up in front of us. So, we want words of knowledge? Well, are we following, “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mark 16:17-18). Are we laying hands on the sick? Are we believing that He is who He says He is? If we want to see more, experience more, know more of Him, and see Him more at work in ourselves, maybe it’s time we believe our Bibles. He is God. Period. Never changing, never ending, never failing. He was, He is, and He will always be. Do you believe it?

Is He a God that could silence the storm with one word, tame the fire, quiet the worry, break the chains? Absolutely! But I have found, that because God is so good, because He adores relationship, and is in the business of character building, He chooses to not tame the fire, but instead to climb in beside us and lead us out unharmed, without a hair on our heads singed. He is a God that left His Heavenly throne to come to Earth and die in our place. What other King would do that? He is unbelievably amazing, unfathomable, flawless, indescribable, incredible, and more than we could ever ask, think, or imagine. Come alive dry bones and let’s know our King! There is an army rising, and it is incredible to see. God is raising up people who will be hidden in the Lighthouse, who will walk by faith, live in obedience and surrender, and operate only in love. This is an army of misfits, coming together as ONE BODY, in unity, to agree with Victory and declare it over this earth. God is coming for a mature Bride, and it is an honor to see a Church that is beginning to wake up and KNOW her Bridegroom. If at my funeral nothing other than, “she KNEW Jesus, loved Him well, and loved the world as He would love them,” is said, I would be more than content. “Well done My good and faithful servant,” from the lips of our sweet Jesus is what we are living for. To know the creator of the universe and to call Him mine is my one desire. He is yours and you are His. Rest in that Child.

Desperate Enough to Die

“Children are dying. Children are dying. Don’t you see? Do something!” I jolt awake with those words still ringing in my ears. The image of his beautiful three year old face, his deep, dark brown eyes that seem to hold the world in their sight, his little fingers and tiny hands, his smile that makes the room shine, and the light of Christ radiating in him still play through my mind as I lay there asking God for clarity on what I just saw. The dreams are becoming more frequent; they are always different but hold the same message: adoption.

This time the dream was clear as day. A cabin, a vacation with the entire family, a pond, paddle boats, a beautiful summer day, and him. I am not clear on his name, but I cannot shake Jeremiah, so for now, that is what I will call him. Everyone was enjoying life, loving time spent with the extended family, all in our own little world, but there were three children there, sitting in a circle, alone. One family member told Jeremiah to sing, and as he walked around singing and dancing everyone cheered. His joy was contagious, and people delighted in him. People said, “Awe look at him! Don’t you just want to keep him forever? He’s adorable.” I turned to my aunt and nonchalantly asked her if my uncle was adopting him. She replied with a look of shock, “goodness no! They need a home, but we do not have the means to take them. They can stay with us for the day, but tonight they are out.” My heart instantly broke for the little boy. Everyone joked about wanting him, but when push came to shove, he was left alone again. As he wrapped up his song and the family went back to their own conversations, I picked him up, put him on my hip, and told him that he could come to my home and be mine. I told him that he was loved and would now have a forever family. All of my extended family kept trying to talk me out of it; shouting things like, “you’re not married yet, so you cannot take him in.” “How in the world do you think you can do this? You can’t.” “Are you crazy??” “Good luck.” Yet, nothing would change my mind. I knew God’s heart was for Jeremiah to have a family, and I knew God was calling me to adopt him so I stood firm. The dream continues with my family laughing, swimming in the pond, riding the paddle boats, splashing one another, and hysterically laughing. This may be the best family vacation to date. But, I am standing on the edge of the pond holding Jeremiah on my hip desperately looking at them all and screaming as loud as I can, “there are children dying! Children are dying. Children are dying! Don’t you see? Do something!” No one even acknowledged the message my voice was carrying across the water. I jolted awake at that moment, and sleep wouldn’t visit me again after that.

It’s two days later, and I still cannot shake his face or the desperation I felt while screaming that there are children dying. Even typing this is hard. I’m sitting in a cafe fighting back tears because this message is one God has planted so deep in my heart; He has rooted it because I believe it is His very heart, His very essence. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to care for the orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27). If you study this verse, many commentators refer to the fact that religion is more directly to be translated as “an expression of worship.” Pure worship is to be like Jesus. Jesus hung out with the sinners; He declared, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14). Pure religion and worship is to be like Jesus, to spend so much time with Him that His heart becomes your heart, that your heart becomes His heart. “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one, just as You, Father, are in Me, and I in you, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that you have sent Me. The glory that You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one even as We are one, I in them and you in Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them even as You loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, may be with Me where I am, to see My glory that you have given Me because You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:20-24). This prayer is literally beyond amazing. There is so much truth and life in it that I could spend pages dissecting it. For now we will focus on one aspect: unity. Jesus is praying to His Papa not long before His arrest and death. God sent Him, (John 3:16), but the desire Jesus desperately cries out is that He longs for us to be with Him. He desires we be one with each other as Him and the Father are one. He desires we be one with Him as He and the Father are one. Okay, let’s not overlook that fact. Jesus is God. God sent His Son. They are as much one as we can possibly wrap our minds around, and then double it. Forget that, triple that; quadruple it! The oneness that Jesus desires us to be with Him and others is beyond what we can imagine, and yet many churches struggle with even being unified, but that is a topic for another day. I want to focus this on the oneness that Christ desires us to have with Him. Pure religion and worship is to be in Him as He is in the Father, so therefore, we should be out there desperate for people to know Him, for children to be saved. An orphan is a child who does not know they have a Father, and a widow is a bride who does not know she has a Bridegroom. Spiritual children are dying every day, and it is about time the Church starts to allow itself to feel His desperate heart for His children to know Him.

His heart of desperation makes me constantly want to sit at His feet and weep, then get up and scream out His love to everyone around me. It’s been about a year and a half now that He continues to say to me, “Marissa, I am desperately hungry that My people would know.” Each time He says it I cannot help but hit the ground in a puddle of tears. I do not even grasp the magnitude of that statement, and yet it is enough to completely wreak me. He is desperate. Take a minute with that. Feel His heart. It is desperate for you, unraveled, overwhelmed, ravished, full of uncontrollable, wild, ravenous, overflowing love for you that He chose to die in your place, to restore mankind to a unity and partnership that would not have been obtainable without His blood. And yet we find it okay to sit passively and say, “someone else will tell them. Evangelism is not my gift. It’s too awkward to pray with people in public.” Can I be bold enough to say, “get over it.” It may not be your gift, but it is His heart, and His heart should flow through you. If the fact that spiritual children are dying does not wreak you and me on a daily basis, maybe we need to get alone with God, lay aside all else, lock ourselves in our rooms, and sit there until we feel His heart for us and for them.

One thing that breaks my heart the most for professing Christians is how much I think we do not grasp the revelation of the redemption and love of the cross. Before things got difficult in home life with V and all her mental health needs, God was constantly speaking over me, “There’s a revelation of the cross you haven’t gotten yet and it’s gonna change everything.” It’s far too frequent that I have Christians hear about my story with V and question it. For those of you who don’t know the story, short version is that God clearly called me, an unmarried 20 year old (at the time), to “adopt” my 17 year old cousin who struggles with autism and obsessive compulsive disorder. I moved home from missions work in order to get an apartment, move her in with me, and start life back here in the United States. On a regular basis, as I tell this story, especially the struggles and the recent hardships, more people than I like to admit come against it in skepticism, questioning, “are you sure God is telling you to continue taking care of her?” “Maybe this is Him making it hard because you are not the one called to raise her right now.” “You need to get out of this situation.” It is incredibly rare I hear someone say, “I would do the same thing. Jesus would too.” Too many members of the church either question it, discourage this journey, or compliment me saying things like, “good for you. I could never do that!” “That’s amazing!” “Wow, you must be so mature and gifted.” My heart breaks even more for those people because I know this is God’s heart. I know He desires to flow through us. My response to people saying it must be some special gift I carry is, “Not in the least. I am me; empty and ready to be used, a broken vessel filled to overflowing by the God of Heaven and earth. Greater is He in me than He in the world. It’s not by my might, but by the Spirit within me.” Do we actually believe that? Because if we truly did, we wouldn’t question 21 year-olds taking orphans in. We wouldn’t question people selling their homes and quitting their jobs to follow God’s heart to the middle of Iran or Syria. We wouldn’t question people living unified, as one body with many members all working together. We would join the sound of Heaven and cry out, “Holy, Holy, Holy are You Lord God Almighty,” to the One who holds us in hand, who smiles upon us, who is desperate just to know us. This season has taught me how broken I am and how much I needed a Savior. The beauty is that this Savior now lives in us, and He promised that what He did we will do and far greater (John 14:12). This revelation of the cross I am finally beginning to understand because for the past two months my mind has been in the same spot as all those people speaking doubt into my situation with V. I struggled believing I am equipped for this; struggled believing He truly is greater. But, this journey has taught me that it is time to wake up and truly believe the cross; to believe that redemption is final. He won; it is finished. Children are dying, so what are we, as the Church, doing about it?

It is Finished

Silence filled the sky as creation began to groan; a soft cry that soon rose to a roar, a shout that echoed for miles upon miles until every creature stood still, waiting, anticipating, hungering for what was to come. The sound of Him crying out, “It is finished,” resulted in an eruption of song, a battle cry that sounded like a lullaby from within, an army beginning to rise. It is finished sparked revival. It is finished declared freedom from a bondage of lies. It is finished is final. The reverberation of those words can still be heard ringing. Freedom was not just for that dark, glorious day, but freedom is for here, now, and forever more.

So often I hear preached that Jesus crying out, “it is finished,” while hanging on the cross was said because He was giving up His Spirit to die, but there is a greater depth to that statement; there is a declaration in those words that is meant to sound for all eternity. It is done. The cross bought complete freedom, claimed back ground the enemy had tried to take, and won a battle that has been waged since the beginning of the fall.

This past week has been the greatest trial we have yet to face with V, and to be honest, one of the hardest things I feel I have walked through. As a mother, the last thing you want to feel the need to do is check your child into a mental health clinic and leave them there, but this week I found myself at this place, with little options other than admitting her. My heart broke more than I can type as I had to leave her there the first night, to know I was not permitted to stay with her, and to feel helpless. Yet, she is a princess of the King, and My King is in full control because He is in radical love with her, and greater is He than the enemy in this world. “Trust in Me with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Me, and I will direct the path” (Proverbs 3:5-6). “So do you trust Me?,” He asked. Facing that question and realizing I did not fully trust His provision for her took me to a place of kneeling on the floor of my living room sobbing for Him to have her, to take control, and to break into this situation. It led to a place of me giving Him back His child and letting Him do what He needs to do, which is far better than I could ever ask, think, or imagine. And that surrender led to a place of, “My child, it is finished.”

Those words echoed in my mind all day today. It is finished. It’s done. It’s over. He won. This entire battle for her freedom is being fought out of a wrong place. For months I have been trying to fight for her freedom, to declare it, to command the enemy gone, to call for freedom, and so on, but the cross finished a mighty work, and His grace is sufficient for her. So, no longer do I need to contend for freedom, but I get to agree with what was bought for her with such a costly price. His blood poured down Calvary washing away everything unclean. Where He is there is freedom. No longer do we as children of the King contend for deliverance, we agree and partner with it. We do not try to take ground from the enemy, instead, we walk behind our Lord of Hosts and plant His victory flag in land He has bought. We call forth freedom, and we agree with what He has done.

There is a queen in her that I see, a child-like wonder of full amazement, complete worship, awesome surrender; a worship leader, teacher, preacher, warrior princess that is waiting to infect the world with the radical love of Jesus. The enemy also sees this, and he comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But the grace of God, that was poured out in His blood, as He hung in our place, giving His final breath so that we may have life; that grace is sufficient for her. That grace finished a mighty work,, a work we have the privilege of seeing manifest in her life. Will she get complete freedom? Absolutely, because she has it. He bought it; now, we call it forth.

The Gospel is for the stupid; hear me out on this. The Gospel is not complicated. “For God so loved, He gave” (John 3:16). Period. For months I have been struggling to figure out how to teach V to renew her mind when she struggles with autism and mental illness. For weeks I sat pleading with God for wisdom, reading books, researching, doing everything I could think of and feeling so ill-equipped in the process. “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (1 Peter 1:3). His power has given us EVERYTHING we need for a godly life. Let me say it again. Everything we need. He has given V all that she needs. The Gospel is to be understood by all. If this message was not for the stupid, none of us would be here. He saw us as sinners and died. He saw us as sons and daughters and rose again. He redeemed, and that is what He is in the business of doing. He continues to redeem today and invites us as Christians to come into alignment with that, to partner with His heart, and to agree and declare, “it is finished,” to every trial and tribulation we face.

Whatever fire you are walking through, remember that the King of kings will climb into that fire beside you. He will walk with you and bring you out without a hair singed on your head because that is who He is. Partnership with the King of kings is our privilege, and whatever you are currently facing, do not lose heart. He has overcome the world. He finished that work, and no matter what daily circumstances look like, continue to agree with and renew your mind fervently in the totality of the cross because we follow an audacious God that defies odds, combats lies, and conquers all. It is well with my soul.

Answering Yes to a Nation

“You know My heart. You carry My heart. What are you going to do with it?” He whispered in response to the soft cry of, “Lead me Papa. Please. Speak. Please, what am I to do?” … silence. Then a voice piercing the dark, “take her. Say yes. Just trust Me. All you could ever need and want is on that mountain in front of you. I have your back Child. You are Mine, and I never let My children fall. Just jump.”

So I plunged; head first into uncharted territory with nothing but the King of kings as my beacon in the dark, my Lighthouse keeping this ship from hitting rock bottom.

A refining walk of faith is the simplest way to describe the journey God and I have embarked on since this past June; and yet it started long before this year. Hearing and accepting the call to care for the orphans and widows in their distress (James 1:27) are two drastically different things. All my life I heard to care for the orphans and widows. My mind understood it; my heart even agreed with it, but it was not until God grabbed a radical hold of my life in 2012 that things changed. The world grew strangely dim and the orphans came to light. From that time on the call to not just hear but to accept became real, and I could no longer sit back and simply listen. Acceptance of this partnership with Christ and His heart for the world took the form of holding crying babies in Bolivia and singing them to sleep. It resulted in weeks spent living in hospitals with sick children praying for healing and singing praises of our Papa over His sweet niños. His heart is for the world, and that is exactly where it led me. “Go out into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). The Gospel is the good news that “while we were still sinners, God showed His great love for us in Christ dying in our place” (Romans 5:8). That God, in all His glory, came down from His throne, and took OUR place; died in OUR deserved spot. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). He came in love, full of desire to see sons and daughters redeemed. “God so [crazy much!!] loved the world, that He sent Jesus, His only Son, that whoever would believe in Him shall have eternal life” (John 3:16). And the most radical part is that He did not die to only bring everlasting life; “He died that we would have life and life abundantly” (John 10:10). Life abundant right here, right now. That abundance comes in surrender to the Spirit at work within us, to the Word of God, to our incredible Father who is Love in its fullness. Love came down for sons and daughters. Orphans are just that. They are sons and daughters who have never been introduced to their Papa, children who are simply waiting to hear that they have been fully adopted by the King of kings, and this Heart, this overflowing, radiant, exuberant heart is the One that called me as a daughter to take in another daughter and teach her that she is redeemed and chosen. To train her up in a way she should go: to show her a Person she should follow, a Love she should know, and a reality worth believing in because then when she is old, she will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).

This journey has been far from easy; in reality, it is the hardest thing I have yet to walk, but God, in all His faithfulness has taught me more than I could have imagined. Day one He told me that this would be a season of freedom, and my response was, “praise God! V will be healed from mental illness and find such freedom in walking in her identity.” By day two my answer changed to, “this freedom is not for her. It is so for me. My patience is nonexistent, my loves does not bear all, believe all, hope all, and endure all, and doubt and fear seem to become my reality before faith and hope.” I quickly realized I am a broken human being who has nothing to give; nothing but a little bit of love and a whole lot of Jesus, and that alone will change everything. He is far more than enough, and greater is He IN ME than the enemy in this world. This is a season of freedom, for myself and V, and I am standing here choosing to believe that God is bigger than mental illness. I am choosing to believe that He is bigger than my doubt, fear, anxiety, questions, finances, hopes and dreams, and even love. I am standing on the reality that His love for V is greater than mine, so He will bring freedom. He loves her with an everlasting love, a love that is crippling, a love that is soft and tender, but aggressive in pursuit and persistent in nature.

From a young age I told God I wanted to foster children someday, and even though I may not be, according to the system, “fostering” V, I am taking care of her for her Papa which is foster care in the greatest description. There was a moment in India when I was sitting on the floor of our hotel a year ago crying out to God sobbing, “I know I am going home to follow this call, but honestly, part of me does not want to. I want to do great things, like preach and teach in the Nations, to worship lead, to disciple, to travel, and to raise up other missionaries.” As I sat there crying this out, He gently responded with an answer so simple, yet so full of truth, and that response threw me in to a whole new world, a realm of understanding His heart in ways that I had never grasped before. He passionately whispered, “Child, I have found you faithful with little, so I will add much. I am entrusting you with my Beloved, my Princess, my Baby girl. She is my world.”

God is first a Father, and to Him, His children are the world; they are whom He died for, why He came, and why He will return to join His Bride to Himself. He went looking for the single lost sheep and would leave the ninety nine behind just to bring back the lamb that went astray. His heart is for the one, and in that moment on the tile floor bordering the loud streets of Hyderabad, India, my world crashed down and was instantly built again under the revelation that living to make Jesus known to the one in front of us is the Nation He has set before us. V is the Nation in front of me, and I am a full-time missionary.

So I am choosing to believe God is touching Nations. I am standing knowing He is making Himself known to each individual, every one of those Beloved children. What Nation do we pass on a daily basis because we are chasing ministry, dreams, and the things of this world, all while missing the one? The one is the Nation. The one is the call. The one is His heart. I am His one. You are His one, and He is desperately hungry that the Nations would KNOW Him, that they would KNOW Love. Love is breaking through, and this is a season that Love will crash through the atmosphere, it will burst through the darkness, and Heaven will touch Earth. May Your Kingdom come and Your will be done here as it is in Heaven. Let Heaven come.

Much love,
Riss

Light of the World

Do we not serve an amazing Father? Our God is so great and full of good gifts, wisdom, and all knowledge, that He sent us His Word, His Son, who is part of Himself. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him nothing was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:1-5). Follow me here. Life was created through the Son, through the Word. In Him is life, and that life is the light of man. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights who never changes or fails” (James 1:17). The Father of lights sent His son to be the light of the Word, that through Jesus, we could see the perfect representation of Father God and His heart for us. Jesus, being found perfect, died in our place, rose, ascended to Heaven and left His Spirit, His fire here, that we may be the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:13- 16), revealing His heart and perfect love to everyone.

Not only did He leave His Spirit, since day one, He left us something else; something to discover who He is, to see His face, to know His heart, and to understand who we are in Him. With the Holy Spirit, who is all knowing and understanding, we can gain revelation and knowledge into the depths of God. This thing He left for us from the start of it all is who He is; He is the living Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word IS God.” Since day one the Word has been existent, revealing the heart of the Father of lights. The Bible is a beautiful thing because when we open it and read its pages, we have a window into the heart of this Father of lights. We read Jesus. We read His love, His redemption, His grace, His mercy, His life. We see Him, the perfect representation of our Father. As we read and study, we come into relationship with this Father of glory because we begin to understand His love for us which causes us to respond in love for Him.

This week we have been studying the Bible, and we were going over a timeline of major events and major people. By the end of it, I was starting to tear up. An understanding of the beauty of the Word hit me like a wave. It is His face, His heart, and I have the privilege to open it up and see Him. It is flawless, gorgeous, and so exciting! It is His voice. When we open the Bible and invite the Spirit to teach us, to mold us, and the reveal Jesus to us, we get hit with understanding again and again. “Give me understanding that I may keep your law and follow it with my whole heart” (Psalm 119:34). Father of lights, give me revelation, not just knowledge of who You are, but deep understanding of what Your glory looks like, so that I may follow You wholeheartedly; that I may keep myself from the temptations of this world. (James 1:27). Reveal Yourself to me as I study Your Word that I may be Your light until You return. You have called me to love the orphans and widows (James 1:27), to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19- 20), but most of all to love You with all my whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love Your children as I love myself. (Luke 10:27). Give me understanding, that I may love You better, and in turn love Your people with the heart You have for them. Father of lights, I chose to be Your light. I say yes God, yes to You.

It is my hope and prayer that as you dig into the Word, He gives you knowledge and understanding. “I pray that the Father of glory may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray the eyes of your understanding may be opened; that you may know (experience) what is the HOPE of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance, and what is the vast greatness of His power towards us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power” (Ephesians 1:17- 19). This is my prayer for you.

Much love!

Dance with Me

I apologize for not updating this as often as I would like. God has been doing so much in my life, teaching me too much for me to type in a way that makes sense to the rest of the world. During my DTS, discipleship training school, I have gotten the opportunity to study into many aspects of God, to go deep into who He is. These two months have rocked my world, and I still have three months left! I want to try to give you a little insight into something God has taught me this past week, something that makes me giddy just thinking about.

For the past two years, I have been getting similar prophecies, all with the same idea behind them, but something I haven’t gotten deep understanding into. They all go along the lines of, “I see you as a flower standing tall among weeds. I see a garden with you as a tall flower in the middle. I see you as a flower in a dry desert land.” I interpreted them all as God has clothed me in strength, but about two weeks ago, God revealed how much deeper He truly wanted to take me in those prophecies.

One of our speakers here was referring to Song of Solomon in a conversation with me, and instantly my mind shut off. Song of Solomon is a weird book, all about the sexual encounters of a king and His love; it is a book that does not apply to me, or so I thought. The teacher gave an overview of the book, all about a woman (us) being pursued by a relentless king (God) who loves her so deeply. This intrigued me to try again to open the book and pray for revelation, just as the first line of the story states. “Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth.” Or, let Him kiss me with the kisses of His Word, His heart, His revelation. That evening, during a prayer room set, I was pacing in the back of the room, starting to read Song of Solomon. I got to chapter 2, read the first two verses, and could not walk. Revelation hit me like a wall. I had to sit down and process with God for a while. She says, “I am a rose of Sharon. I am a lily of the valley.” Then the King responds, “As a lily among thorns so are you among others.” I knew without a shadow of a doubt this was the key to all those prophecies but I couldn’t figure out how or why.

That night God revealed to me that I am His lily. I am pure because of what He did. He sees me as pure. He sees me as I will be in eternity, standing before Him, a spotless bride. I am the one He sees, the apple of His eye if you may. This is applicable to everyone. YOU are His favorite one. YOU are His delight. He sees YOU as pure and worthy of pursuit. How much is that against what we usually believe, how we usually see God? But, it is true. You are His. You are worth dying for. It is not a chore for Him to journey through life with you. He does not shake His head and say, “What are you thinking? What are you doing?” Instead, He says, “Come to me child. I love you. I LIKE you.” It is His delight to do life with us. He loves our personalities. They are reflections of His heart. In His eyes, it’s all about us. He died for us. All He does is for YOU.

This revelation rocked my world, but that was only the start. This past week we studied Song of Solomon in depth, and I can say that it is my all time favorite book of the Bible. I cannot get enough. I cannot keep up journaling with all the revelation He is pouring out. Even as I am typing this I am getting giddy with joy over all He is continuing to reveal. Father, kiss me with the kisses of understanding.

I am His lily. A rose of Sharon is a lily that grows in the desert valleys of the Middle East. In Jesus day, it was a highly valued flower, known to bring joy to many. People would travel to see these lilies in the valleys. They are about the only thing that will grow in these dry areas. Two weeks before these revelations, through a friend, God gave me Psalm 84:6- “As you go through the Valley of Baca (Dry land. Land of weeping. Desert place) you will make it a spring of living water. The early rains cover the land in pools.” Lilies of the valley bring joy to desert land. I am a lily. He says that I will bring joy for mourning, beauty for ashes. I will bring joy to people’s deserts, living water to their understanding, and hope for their broken hearts. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because He has anointed me to bring good news (the Gospel/ Jesus) to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and to open prison doors for those who are in spiritual bondage; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort those who cry, to grant to those who mourn beauty for ashes, oil of gladness, and a spirit of praise for mourning.” (Isaiah 61: 1-3a) This is who He has called me to be. This is who He has called you to be. The Spirit of the Lord is upon you because of Christ Jesus. He wants you. He wants to lead, to do life with you, to dance with you.

For the past two weeks God has been whispering, “Marissa, dance with me.” “Darling, dance with me.” “Baby girl, dance with me.” “Beloved, come away and dance.” “Dance with me.” I keep saying okay God, thinking He means dance before Him, to lay aside fear of man and literally dance before Him in worship. In my private time I have been doing this, but that was not all He wanted to teach me through asking me to dance.

In Song of Solomon, the girl is being pursued by the King. His love for her is great and she adores Him. They are in a honeymoon stage, enraptured with each other. Then, he calls her to the mountains with Him. He calls her to the struggles of life, to climb the mountains and the valleys with Him. She says no. She is scared, lacking in trust, so He pulls His manifest presence from her for a season to make her realize how she desperately needs and desires Him. She gets to a point of lovesick desperation that she cries out to Him, saying, “YES! I will go where you lead. You are worth it all!” He pours out love and affirmation on her, and together they are go on the hard journey of life.

This week, God revealed this is what dance with me means. He said to me, “Will you come dance with me? Will you follow my lead in the ups and downs, the fast beats and the slow, the good and the bad? Will you say yes to this dance of life? It is full of joy, my lily.” He wants to be my dance partner for life. He is Prince Charming watching me, Cinderella, walk in and says, “You. I want to dance with you. Forever. You are my favorite one. My beloved. You,” pursing me in all I do.

And today, my heart said yes.