Isaiah 12v3 - "With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation."
What's Church all about? Why are you going to the other side of the world to learn about God? Why on earth is God such a big deal to you? Some of you don't really get what all of this is about. Well, it's about THAT verse. And I'm only just getting that. But it's about the crazy depths of grace offered and the God of Heaven and Earth offering me the unfailing love that no-one else in this universe can.
Two nights ago, Wednesday evening. I was at a kids' training meeting with Nathan McLean, who's the Hillsong Kids pastor at the Hills Campus in Sydney, and I suddenly caught onto the love of Church, our heart for God's House. You wouldn't think it would have taken me this long, not in Hillsong Church, not in Hillsong's Bible College. You would have thought I'd have got it in one of the 4 sermons I'm in each week, or one of those gazillions of lectures I've had this semester. But God's funny like that. And He knows me inside out. I figure He saw that I open my heart in kids, when we're talking about pouring love over the little'uns. So it was there that everything turned around.
"What's your heart for God's house?" Nathan asked. "You've got two minutes. Write it down." I had a mini panic. I hadn't got one yet. I actually wrote down at first 'Everything Nathan just said!' and then had to actually think. I eventually came up with "Because it's where people can find healing that no human can offer them." Which is true, and awesome, but really it came from my head not my heart. But then something came alive in my heart. Something leapt in me; I had a breakthrough moment. God switched something over in my soul.
I went straight from the kids' meeting to Powerhouse, the young adults' ministry, and sang with joy. I sang with peace in my heart. I worshipped in love.
That makes no sense. There's a possibility that on the 10th June I'll be suspended from College because a cheque from the UK can't realistically be processed here, so I'm having to post it home to another account and then transfer it here. Even then the job I have stressed me out the only day I've worked, if they've been trying to get into contact with me it hasn't worked and I'm considering the fact it's not worth it anyway. So I don't have any form of income, I'm living in a foreign country and I'm filled with joy, peace and love.
Last night I got to hang out with some awesome kids and kids leaders. My soul was invigorated once more. This morning we had Chapel, College Church, which is always astounding. This morning before I sang with choir, I had one of those girl moments where you decide you're not so fond of being single. I wanted a guy, a boyfriend. It happens. And suddenly it dawned on me: that desire, the love that God puts in us - even the desire for love, for relationship - that's the closest thing we have to what God feels for us. God is so passionately, crazily in love with us, with each of us individually, for exactly who He crated us to be. He loves us, He loves me, He loves you so much it hurts Him.
He loves so much that He came to Earth in human form - the God who exists in Heaven in a way that we can't even comprehend, an amazing God of all power and justice, put on human clothes - the clothes of a baby first, nonetheless - and came to 1st Century Palestine and one of the cruellest punishments ever devised because He loves us so much He wanted to drench us in grace, so that we could fall in love with Him back.
Grace is one of those concepts that's very Christian-ese. We think of it as such a nice thing, a pretty concept. It's so powerful. God creates us because of a desire for relationship out of our own love and devotion, knowing that we'd turn away from all the blessings and the incredible life He created us for, sees everything we do with His world and His gift, turning away and hating God, denying the life He had prepared for us, and then makes the greatest sacrifice - this is GOD we're talking about - to forgive us so that we could have it back. I think I'd have wanted to say 'OK, well, I gave you this perfect present, the perfect life, but if you want to throw it back in my face, fine', but not God. He just keeps presenting it over and over again, even though it meant coming to Earth as a mortal, dying and being punished for every one of our sins.
It's there I'm learning to live from. It's not from a place of striving to do everything perfectly, anxious of or frustrated at messing up every step. Just resting in the knowledge that God loves me no matter what and looks at me as a pure, perfect daughter even though I mess up. That doesn't mean I do whatever I want; in fact, its the opposite. Out of love and grace I respond by making my life the best sacrifice I can be. I love God, so I want to glorify Him in my life. But I don't do it to gain grace; I do it because I already have it. I'm free from striving because God loves me regardless; but I want to live my life as best I can for God to testify to His love and greatness.
This is the greatest story on Earth.
It's so freeing to finally catch onto that. I'm learning to set my worth in how God sees me, no matter what, not in how people on Earth see me, so that if I get a bit over-excited or if I forget to do something or do something wrong and people become disappointed in me, I know that I'm accepted and loved in God's eyes. That's all that matters. I can learn and move on from messing up and grow; it won't have to affect who I am and how I see myself.
So I love the Church because it's there that my soul finds its home with my soulmate; it's here that I find my rest and my home, where my soul is refreshed. Here I can touch Heaven in God's home, receiving peace, joy and love.