More Than We Can Ask or Imagine

Monday, January 31, 2011  ::  

What a week. What an amazing, difficult, Spirit-filled, prayer-filled, community uniting week. I'm kind of having a little bit of let down today as I process all that happened over the last few days. It is such a strange feeling to be so full of hope, and at the same time sad that the week ended. 1 John 5:14-15 says, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him." I believe that as a whole we prayed according to God's will... to draw people to himself, to refine our community to be used for his glory, to use us to affect change in Tucson and the world, to cause us to love him more deeply. He will answer our prayers because he is able and willing to do more than we can ask or imagine! I think that is reason to celebrate!

Personally, one of the areas God challenged me in is how I serve him. When I am serving the people I lead out of the obligation of his call on my life in ministry, I burn out. To be honest, it happens like a roller coaster for me. For awhile I serve out of my love for him. Then I start carrying the burdens of others on my own shoulders and quickly, my motives of service are to help others, or to not let people down, or because I can't say no, or just because I know it is what God has asked me to do. Let me tell you, strength does not last long when focus is lost. This week God so lovingly and gently reminded me that I love him deeply. I love spending time with Jesus, singing to him, talking to him. It is sweet. That alone is my motivation for working for him. With my focus on my love for him, his love for me, and his love for others, boundaries fall nicely into place. I take my junk to Jesus and ask others to take their junk to Jesus, too. It works beautifully! His love really does make it worth it all!

As a community, 53 of us met to pray on Friday night. Chad and I have talked that it was probably the most spiritually powerful event that Second Mile has had to date. People showed up ready to pray and worship the Most High. Definitely, the Spirit showed up to guide us in speaking to him and worshipping him. I don't know if I've ever heard a group of people sing, "Your Name is glorious, glorious" more loudly. Completely powerful doesn't do justice to the intensity of the night.

Each time we gather to pray we incorporate times of silence to listen to God. The times are always short, and gradually we will grow in the discipline of sitting quietly as a community, but God speaks to us, even in the couple of minutes that we sit and wait. Through the time of sharing what God may be speaking to us, the theme was rich and God-focused... "He is able to do more than we ask or imagine. Don't limit God! Thank and praise him for what the future work he will do! He has blessed us with many gifts. We should be intentional, out of our comfort zones with discernment!" I'm so thankful that God hears us and responds. He is a personal God even though he is holy, just, and huge.

Whatever it is that God will have us do in this city, I know it will take sacrifice in a way we haven't yet experienced. I believe we are becoming a church who prays which will require a sacrifice of intentionality. I know we are becoming a church who unashamedly worships which will require the sacrifice of self. I hope we are becoming a church who boldly proclaims the gospel which will require the sacrifice of reputation. I pray we are becoming a church who sees change in Tucson which will require a sacrifice of time and money. There is no other way than to be a church who is completely Christ focused which will require the sacrifice of our whole lives. "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." Phil 3:7-11

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Eph 3:20-21

If you are willing, please leave a brief comment in response or about what God spoke to your heart over the last week. Let's encourage one another in sharing some ways God teaches us. We give him glory for what he is doing in our community!


9 important comments so far. What are your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

It was a much different week of prayer and fasting for me. So much different than in years past. Although I was engaged in praying for our church and beyond, I felt like it was a week of personal refinement of which I haven't experienced before. Staring your own patterns of sin in the face is a humbling and heart wrenching process, but our God is so gracious and good! Although it was a tough week in that aspect, I never once felt abandoned, hopeless, or condemned. I am so thankful for his gracious mercy and love! And Friday was a perfect way to rest in the power of His Name and know that our God is greater. It was such a sweet time of humble worship of the King! :) Love my Second Mile family!

--Tia

Tori Einstein said...

God challenged me in so many areas last week: vulnerability, surrender, brokenness, discipline. By the end of the week, I felt completely empty. I was emotional and my body continually reminded me that I had nothing left to give. It was then that God spoke gently to my heart, “Tori, I just want you to love me.” That seemed like a pretty easy request but as I thought about it more I realized just how hard this was going to be for me. I try to show God that I love him by the things I do or convince people that I love Jesus because of the words I say. That’s not what God asked me to do. He asked me to simply love Him. So last week brought me back to the basics of our faith; loving Jesus with my whole being. The rest of the things He taught me will fall into place. I am vulnerable because I love Him, I surrender my past, present and future because I love Him, I embrace my brokenness because I love Him and I am disciplined because I love Him. Now each morning as I wake up and start my day I simply pray, “Jesus, today I want to fall more in love with you.”

Alisa said...

Friday was awesome! Susie said that her favorite part about it last year was how loudly everyone was singing. I like that too.

@Tori: That's a great way to start the day :)

I don't think I learned any super deep spiritual lesson. I'm a crock-pot thinker so maybe I'll be able to say I did in a couple months. I had mostly great days where I was full of energy and felt joyful. One day was really tough and I really needed to beg God for his help, but asking came so much more naturally this past week. It was good to spend so much time in prayer too... I learned about praying in a community in a different way than I have in the past. A way that mostly listens...

Angela DeSoto said...

Oh man, I love reading this stuff. Last week was definitely the most challenging week of fasting/prayer I've experienced so far. I wanted it to end so badly, while also wishing it could go on forever.
I felt so physically stripped and weak because of sickness that has been unrelenting in our house since Thanksgiving. Everyday of the fast God showed me another layer He wanted to get to in me. I was wondering when it was going to end. But it didn't, and I still feel wrecked and being worked on, in a gentle, loving way.
I felt like in giving up many of the comforts I turn to, God was showing me that there is nothing that will bring the kind of comfort and refreshing that being with him will bring. "What else can I do but worship" was so articulate for me on Friday. I'm learning so much, and have so much to learn. But after last week I feel so much more focused on Jesus, desiring continued refinement, and burdened for my city than ever before.
Friday was amazing. I feel soooo blessed to be in the place that I was in the building. What I was able to see in all of you was a vision of heaven for me. It will forever be embedded in my mine. Love you all so much!!
(Sorry for turning this into my own personal blog!)

Anonymous said...

This week was a week of listening and learning what it truly meant to hear and not just hear what I wanted to hear. This week was the first prayer and fasting week that I have actively participated in and it was amazing. It was amazing to hear God speak and to be refined. Friday was a perfect way to end the week. After a week of God working on my heart and exposing an attitude problem and showing me refinement Friday was awesome.
The song with the lyrics what else can I do bu worhsip, what else can I do but bow... cause all I really long for is you, all i really yearn for is you. This spoke to my heart because by the end of the week all I wanted was Jesus and to spend time with Jesus with my family.
~Nicky

Susie Bishara said...

As I reflected on my own heart on Monday, I felt the Holy Spirit say to me that instead of focusing on my own failures and short comings that what he wanted was for me to turn my head and look at Him. He said that as I looked at Him his face, his glory would shine on me. He didn't want me to condemn myself, he wanted me to focus on all the good things He is and that through this focus and love for Him He promises to continually transform me to be more like Jesus.

During prayer and fasting week God rejuvenated my energy and excitement for pursuing, serving and gathering together people for Christ's purposes. He wants me to be in expectancy of how he is going to use this passion for people and prayer that he's given me. I'm excited.

Also during prayer week God was a banner of HOPE. Hope is a word that kept ringing throughout my heart.

I LOVED how powerful Friday night's worship was. I felt that we were worshipping with one heart beat, in God's presence. The voices were SO LOUD, it overwhelmed me :))) ! My voice was raspy afterwards because of how loud I was singing!!

Jonathan Louie said...

One thing I noticed that week was all the people I drove past. People going everywhere, people God loved and people that I feel completely powerless to aid in seeing God change. Thousands upon thousands of people that are nothing more than a face in a car going somewhere in their busy and broken lives and I will never be able to do anything for them directly for Jesus sake. I hadn't really felt that since I was in college looking out at all the people on the mall during class changes.

The last thing I was impressed with by God was on Friday night. That above all things we really need to be thoroughly immersed in God's word. I really didn't feel impressed in any other direction than our need to be completely spewing with God's word.

Jen G said...

I'm with Angela I LOVE reading all of this and hearing how God moved in everyone's life last week. What an awesome and at times challenging week but yet so powerful!! Friday night was by far the most amazing worship I have experienced. I came feeling empty and tired and left being absolutely full. Thank you Jesus for this wonderful community and amazing people who have walked with me on my journey.

ELB said...

Phillipians 2:3

"Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves."

-Erin Anderelli

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