This is a repost from my previous blog, originally written on April 24, 2012. I wrote this when I was about two years into my first position as a youth pastor. God taught me a lot about what it means to love Him in my time there, at that little Temecula church in the middle of nowhere! Thankful for those times.
The past few weeks have been dark. So much frustration… So much hopelessness… So much wanting to give up. It’s the subtle grip of death. But then again, I’ve been here before. And more than that, I have a Friend who’s been here, too—and His grave is empty. Hahaha. So God reminded me again that what I need is a little faith, that the same power that conquered the grave lives in me, so I should walk like it. Where there’s death, faith always leads to life. It’s funny how faith never gets easy.
Driving to church, I was asking God, “Okay, what do we need to do? What do they need to hear?” I started picturing all my kids, seeing what they’re going through, how they’re struggling, slipping. ”God, I’m losing them. They aren’t engaged at church, they aren’t praying enough, they aren’t reading the Bible enough, they aren’t seeking you passionately, they aren’t burning. Where is their fire, God? Why aren’t they desperately in love with You?” I was getting upset. “How can I fix them, God? How do I bring it back? How do I make them love You?”
My friend had left her ipod in my car, and I noticed that it had been playing music since I left the house. I turned up the volume. First there was some piano, and then Kari Jobe’s voice, singing, “So faithful… So constant…” I knew this song, from a long time ago. It brought back memories of my first love. “I know that You are for me…” And then my Father, kind and patient, knelt down from His throne to speak to me.
”Tell them I love them.”
It shook my soul. A fire flared up in my bones.
We had revival that day.
I drove home slowly, laughing to myself. How could I forget… haha. All the times I’d gone through this before with Him—times when I lost hope, when I could only see in the flesh; times when I lost faith, when I was drowning in fear; times when He held my hand anyways, when He showed me His power; times when He was faithful in my weakness; times when He kept His promises after I’d given up on them—the memories casually revisited my thoughts, like old friends with warm hearts. I sighed, happy. I was gazing at the mountains quietly passing by. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes just for a moment, and breathing out, I whispered, “I love You, Lord.” Right then, I felt His presence near to me. I said it again, “I love You, Lord.” I started crying, and I couldn’t stop. “I love You, Lord.”
I remembered something I wrote back in my junior year of high school on my blog:
I once heard that the words we lift toward God are so beautiful in His ears, that He would go to any length to hear them. He would silence the sounds of nature, hush the angels’ song, even quell the infinite ballad of the universe, just to hear your broken voice calling out to Him, your whispered prayer of desperation, the silent cries from your wounded soul… just to listen to a single word of love breathed through your lips.
And a million times I sing, “I love You, Lord.”
A famous worship leader told a story at a conference a while ago about his young son. Back when his son was still in the womb, this worship leader would put his face against his wife’s stomach and sing songs that he had written to his son. Then after he was born, when the boy would cry at night, he would go to him and again sing those songs as he fell back asleep. As his son grew older, still, the father would go to his room late at night while he was in bed, and he would sing over him, the very same songs. And then one day, while this father was in the kitchen, he heard something from across the house. As he got closer, he heard that it was his son. He was singing a song, one he had written for him. And his voice.. it sounded just like his father’s. The father stood outside the door and wept. In that moment, he understood worship. It was the most beautiful thing he had ever heard.
My Father’s favorite song for me has always been His love. And as I told God I loved Him, I realized that everything that happened that day at church, everything I preached to them about the Father’s love—it wasn’t for them. It was for me. It was my Father, singing over me.
As I walked in faith, I heard His voice. And the voice of God wasn’t leading me to be a better pastor, or to have a better church, or to make better Christians out of my kids. It led me to one thing.
I love You, Lord. A million times.