2016 was definitely a year for the history books. From Brexit, to The Chicago Cubs winning the World Series, to President Donald Trump, and much more. Across the globe, people found themselves in a collective state of shock, surprise, and for some a time of great testing and transition.
For me, it was one of the most difficult years that I have ever faced. I lost family members and mentors who had deeply impacted my life. I encountered new levels of depression, and walked through intense valleys of loneliness, exile, alienation, and frustration. I was passed over for multiple promotions, I watched lifelong dreams die, suffered severe physical injury, and severed unhealthy relationships.
I found myself in a place where I was no longer living. I was simply existing. I wasn’t anxious. You actually have to care about something in order to be anxious! Even my talents and gifts were in hibernation. I had not written for months (As evidenced by the complete lack of posts to Conquering Kingdoms in 2016.), and the same was true of my musical pursuits. I couldn’t even hit most of my vocal range anymore. I was withered. Dying on the vine. I found myself searching for new ways to waste my time and money, in an effort to just make it through to the next day, in the vain hopes that it would be better than the last. It hardly ever was.
This is not to say that I did not experience joy throughout my 2016. I also enjoyed many wonderful adventures! I traveled to fifteen different states, watched dear friends join in marriage, met some of my favorite bands, made my first trip to the West Coast to participate in the AzusaNow prayer gathering, and journeyed to Kansas City for the recent Onething conference, hosted by the International House of Prayer. I gained new friends, reconnected with old ones, celebrated victories, and overcame obstacles.
Yet, even through the adventures, I was still existing. When I would encounter joy, I had no idea what to do with it. I could only allow myself to be happy for a little while, because I knew that I would have to return to the drudgery of my circumstances sooner or later. With the drudgery came an intense fog. I was like the walking dead, stumbling through work and family interactions, desperate for the time when I could escape everyone into the fortress of solitude that I had created. My soul was dying. I reached the point where my faith could no longer go.
My faith had stopped.
I had reached the edge of a bottomless chasm, and I no longer possessed the ability to obtain the faith to cross it. I was stuck, about to fall over the edge, sinking into the abyss of hopelessness.
In the last moment of sanity that remained, I cried out to God. He met me in that moment with such mercy. I found myself catapulted high into the air, far above the chasm. I could see clearly now that it was merely a crack in the path of my purpose. When I landed, I found that I no longer recognized the scenery. It was vibrant! Full of life, joy, and color. It was the equivalent of going from a black-and-white television set to standing outside in a tropical paradise. I was many miles away from where I formerly was. Jesus more than made up the difference when I presented Him with my frail and feeble sacrifice. As the old song goes, “He healed my body, He touched my mind. He saved me just in time!”
During my time in Kansas City (a trip which I was definitely not planning to take at the beginning of December), God took me so much farther than I could ever conceive of, literally in the twelfth hour (see what I did there?). The financial provision, time off of work during the holidays (in retail!), conference registration fees, flights, hotel, and other travel arrangements fell into place within one week.
Then, less than two weeks before the trip, I severely injured my right shoulder, tearing my manubrium and bicep muscles by falling on my icy driveway. After working through the pain for nearly a week, almost losing consciousness at work due to the intense pain, an emergency room visit, and a subsequent consultation with my doctor, it was determined that I required a light-duty work exemption for a minimum of one month. After notifying my work, this quickly turned into a short-term disability leave.
I was still determined to go on the trip (note to self and others, traveling across the country with a shoulder injury is not ideal!). I knew in my heart that breakthrough was waiting for me there, and that the adversary could not stop me from obtaining it. Even if I had to travel through airports with one arm in a sling.
I am not the same person that I was before the trip. For the first time in three years, I feel vibrant! Joyful!! ALIVE!!!
The Lord brought me out of the fog, healed old physical, emotional, and spiritual wounds. I am free of the chains which once bound me, and I am going to a deeper level with Jesus than ever before. I share this not to “toot my own horn,” or to draw attention to myself. I share this to encourage you in your journey.
In my life, I have learned that transparency will always lead to transformation. Every single time. This is what I desire for you, myself, and the world at large. In my private time with The Lord, He speaks to me prophetically through writing. During these times, I write what I hear His Spirit speaking to me. Through this avenue, God has given me a theme for each year. For example, 2015 was “The Year of My Increase” (and it was in many powerful ways.). 2016 was “The Year of My Breakthrough” (which came into fullness during the last week of the year!) 2017 is “The Year That I BECOME BREAKTHROUGH.” To myself. To those around me. And, hopefully to you.
I believe that the same can be true for you.
If, during the last season, you found yourself surrounded by the fire, the waves, the wind, or the perilous pestilence, this truth is available for you. The Lord desires to take His people from a place of beholding (from the outside looking in, watching God move through the glass, while you can’t seem to enter the room) to BECOMING the move of God in your midst, transforming lives, cities, states, and nations with His power expressed in a mighty way through the gifts which He has placed inside of you (even the ones that you are currently unaware of!) since before the foundation of the earth.
Most of the time, when God speaks to us through The Gift of Prophecy, it is an invitation. We are able to access as much (or as little) as we are willing to go after from the place of prayer, and by walking forward boldly in faith to obtain it. It is the desire of God for His people to possess all of it! Every drop!! But He will not force us into it. The Holy Spirit is a perfect gentleman, who will only enter when He is invited.
In this new season, Jesus longs to take you to new dimensions in your journey with Him. Beholding to Becoming. Bones to Beauty. Failure to Fulfillment. Mourning to Joy. Pain to Promise. I sincerely pray that you choose to partner with Him in this season. The world so desperately needs what you carry.