I woke up this morning so excited to go to church. Not that that's unusual, but today I was extra excited because Elevation Church's own Steven Furtick was gracing us with his presence. Heck yes! He recently wrote a book, and though I haven't ordered it yet, I can promise you that I will be purchasing it soon. Like tomorrow soon.
The inspiration for his entire book came from Joshua 10, a story that I had never read before I heard about his new book a couple of weeks ago. The story is incredible. Something that every single person on the face of the planet should read and live out daily. In case you've never read it, here it is, starting with verse seven:
So Joshua marched up from Gilgal with his entire army, including all the best fighting men. The LORD said to Joshua, "Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you."
After an all-night march from Gilgal, Joshua took them by surprise. The Lord threw them into confusion before Israel, who defeated them in a great victory at Gibeon. Israel pursued them along the road going up to Beth Horon and cut them down all the way to Azekah and Makkedah. As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the LORD hurled large hailstones down on them from the sky, and more of them died from the hailstones than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.
On the day the LORD gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the LORD in the presence of Israel: "O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon."
So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar.
The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the LORD listened to a man. Surely the LORD was fighting for Israel!
Crazy right? I'm going to go with a yes.
My favorite quote of the entire sermon was this: “If the size of the vision that you have for your life isn’t intimidating to you then there’s a chance that its insulting to God.” That's tough to swallow, especially if you know you're living a life less than what you have been called to live. All too often we simply survive through our days and complain about it the entire time. The only problem with that is Jesus. Not only are we called to be agents of change, but, more importantly, that's what we were created to be. To step out in audacious faith and rejoice when people ridicule us for doing things they think are wrong or don't make any sense. We were MADE to worship Jesus and draw others to him.
I have a lot of things that I pray for on a daily basis, some of which I sometimes catch myself wondering if Jesus will ever take those burdens away from me. Those are my sun stand still prayers. Today, I stood up with most of the congregation and admitted that I need the sun to stand still. Strangely enough, just several hours later, Jesus swung the door wide open for me on one of those prayers. This one, in particular, is one that I've been praying since I first started praying when I was just a little girl. It didn't come without tears (and lots of them) either, but after several hours of marinating on the whole ordeal and allowing the voice of Jesus guide my thoughts, what I need to do is pretty crystal clear.
The cool thing about everything is that although he calls us to do these sometimes outrageous things, he promises that he will always fight for us, just as he fought for Israel. He knows we'll be scared, and he gently (and sometimes not-so gently) reminds us that there's really nothing to be scared of. Pastor Steven reminded me today that fear, in itself, is not bad. It only becomes bad when we let it have the last word. Brilliant. And so encouraging, especially for the task that Jesus is preparing me to do.
Take God-sized steps of faith. Pray God-sized prayers. Have faith in the Faithful One, not in myself or others. Stop surviving and start living an abundant life. Celebrate what God has already done in my life and anticipate what he's going to do next. Watch him turn mistakes into miracles, time after time. Cut the meaningless crap and just live like Jesus did.
Those things are what I want to be known for. I think it's time I make it happen.