A few months ago I had the incredibly humbling experience of attending and serving at the Hillsong Conference in New York City. I've attended our conferences before and I've always left with an empowering sense of "floating on air" & "God is so in love with me". This year, however... The experience and encounters with God didn't translate as soft and delicate inclinations as they have in the past.  

When my pastor, Carl Lentz, hit the platform I felt a major wave of CONVICTION, not guilt, confront my spirit. With widened eyes and a heart fully awake I knew in that moment that this wouldn't be like past conference experiences. In this particular session Pastor Carl explained that we don't have to pray for boldness to share our faith. We just need to do it. Get out there and do it. It felt like my heart stopped.

Was I ACTUALLY equipped to do all of the bold declaring of God's glory that I felt responsible for. Could I ACTUALLY share my faith anywhere, everywhere, and in everything? Were my excuses ACTUALLY full of rotten, processed, leftover Bologna?  Yes. Yes they were. This meant that I had/have the ability to take action right away. 

As the conference sessions rolled on,  I made an attempt to take in every moment and hear every word with a steady and opened heart. Going into Conference I knew that God wanted to speak to me about surrender and to help me understand the depths of the term in regards to our relationship with Him.

Prior to Conference I had a Luke chapter 5:1-10 (NLT) moment.  It reads:

1One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. 2He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. 3Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there. 
4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”
5“Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” 6And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! 7A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.
8When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m too much of a sinner to be around you.” 9For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. 10His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed.

(Emphasis My Own)

Before the conference I was ready to pull in one of my "nets," wash it out, place it in an airtight Zip-Loc bag and toss it under my bed with suitcases around it. I was D.O.N.E. with the idea of hoping and waiting for this particular net to be full of "fish". I concluded that I do not need the future contents of this "net" and life would be fine,  peachy keen, "A" okay.  I concluded that being I.N.D.E.P.E.N.D.E.N.T ('do you know what that means’, ha!) of this particular "catch" was the life for me. 

Low and behold this was the very thing God used to show me just how deep His love is. There is a massive amount of strength and nobility that comes along with waiting on God’s timing.  Instead of retreating, as I normally do, God was pushing me to "believe again" with a new boldness and renewed faith. Surrendering in this instance looks like believing God even when it may hurt. It is putting on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:11) and digging into the trenches of my emotions and personal will to gut out my flesh.

On the last night of Conference I was worshiping and as clear as day the Holy Spirit reminded me of the story of Abraham and how he had to wait YEARS, before God's promise of Isaac came to pass (Genesis 12-22; Romans 4:18-19). Am I any different than Abraham?  Do I not have to surrender to God's way of doing things on his timetable?  In the moments that followed, Pastor Steve Furtick proceeded to speak about Abraham. God had prepared my heart and spirit for what He was about to teach. My jaw dropped when I heard what he was saying and I knew that God was calling for my full attention.

 

"Maybe it's not buried... it's planted" - Steven Furtick

 

Steve proceeded to teach how the most insignificant things are where we are called to be the most faithful. When we "plant" seeds of faith whether it's turning down every guy who comes into your life because he was not lined up with who you knew God wanted you to be with or moving to New York City against your 'better judgment' and budget, we must keep them in the soil and make sure the sacrifices progress naturally. Surviving the soil is critical. Post Hillsong Conference I am reminded that we have to be steadfast and finish out what God has given us. God is definitely doing a new thing (Isaiah 43:19), but He will also finish out the good works that He has started in us (Philippians 1:6). Don't abort your mission. Listen to what instructions God is giving you about your “net.”

 

"If God has not given you anything new, be faithful with what is in your hand." -Bobbi Houston.

 

 After any period of concentrated amounts of the studying the Word, worshipping and fellowshipping in God's presence one of the fears can be losing what we have gained and not being able to hold onto that experience. We must trust that if we are truly bent towards diving deeper into God's presence and having His Kingdom Come, the experience and knowledge gained will absorbed into our spirits. The Holy Spirit will call it to your memory when it's needed and it doesn't hurt to meditate on it.

This isn't a season of comfortable faith for me. So, if you sense the same calling then grab your heavy duty boots, fatigue print v-neck, your Bible and your favorite lipstick (or chap stick) and get to work. 

Be Filled. Again.

J