The Gate

Today’s post is about an inspiring encounter my dear friend Brandilynn had this Easter weekend. 

As I drove towards Tarpley, Texas on Easter weekend; an overwhelming sense of emptiness filled my heart. Like an empty cup turned upside down; I felt nothing left. I was excited for the weekend, yet felt afraid I wouldn’t fit in with the group. They all knew each other well and I was just new to this church group. They were like one big happy family that joked and bantered back and forth with inside stories I had yet to understand. The old familiar thoughts entered in. Was I good enough? Could I measure up? Would I be on the sidelines looking in? Could I make a difference? I asked God to equip me as I rounded the corner to “The Gate” that would forever change my life. I sat in front of this huge black iron gate that towered above me. As I entered the code and the gate opened; I couldn’t shake a sense of something great is about to happen.

 

I quickly unpacked my bags and got settled in. Everyone began arriving at the second of two cabins on the Lake Front Hill Country Getaway. …and so began my journey to receiving the greatest fulfillment in a group setting I can remember. This group is different I told myself. Everyone busily got situated into both cabins and later that night we sat around eating burgers and listening to Pastor Mark share a message on what it means for God to get the glory in your life. He shared that this weekend was about focusing on the Lord and leaving the worldly cares behind. We delved into discussions about God and Jesus in a way that felt different. James had been discussing feelings of LACK in the previous church meetings.He shared to take those feelings and just ask God…  “Hey, what is this Lord”?!  It amazed me that it could be simplified so easily into one action.

Problem: Feeling lack (of any kind)
Solution: Holding that up to God and asking him about it

Pretty easy concept! How I missed it all these years is beyond me.

That night, I had a lot of time to think about what God was doing in my life and in the lives of others around me. I woke up the next morning with only a few hours of sleep. I felt strangely energized as I met up with the others in the group. The day unfolded perfectly as we talked around the picnic table. Later we hiked a mountain that later became known as “Won Shoe Mountain” and at night sat around the fire in God’s presence. We laughed and cried and sang and talked. A sense of wonderment came over me when I realized that in our group of twelve. Like the disciples, Jesus sat among us! I could feel his presence like never before. I could feel LOVE, ACCEPTANCE, JOY, HONOR, HUMILITY, COMPASSION, FAITHFULNESS, COMMITMENT, ANOINTING, GENTLENESS, ENCOURAGEMENT, and DISCERNMENT, to name a few. I was amazed to hear, as we went around the campfire; the thoughts that others had formed about me. Nothing but the love of Jesus could allow them to see into my heart that way. As each person took their turn my mind ceased to function and my soul leaped forward. I realized this is a taste of heaven on earth, as I felt unending love in that moment. A sneak peak into the UNCONDITIONAL LOVE that God has in store for us all as we (in time) enter into the heavenly gates.

NO LACK existed!

The next morning I awoke feeling satisfied that I had opened my heart, mind, soul, body to God in a way that surpassed previous moments. I felt closer to God than ever before in a way that humbled; yet excited me. I drove out and back up to the gate with new purpose and an overflowing cup. I sat in front of the Gate for a moment… NOT wanting to leave.

I understand now entering the code to the gate…. symbolic for saying, God, I am here… ready to be in your presence. I leave everything behind at the gate entrance and enter into your kingdom and majesty and righteousness. I realized I had left ALL worldly things at the front of the gate. We can’t bring those things into his presence.

In closing, leaving you with one final thought. When you are sitting in front of that Gate… staring up and deciding whether to enter…  or sit back in the worldly things… will you decide to enter into God’s presence and feel his majesty and love surround you and change you in a profound way. Letting the world fall away off of you… your body, your mind, your heart, your soul. To renew and bask in the presence of God that seems to change you down to the very cells of your body… to fill your heart so full it is bursting with Love, Adoration, Kindness, and Acceptance for everyone and everything around you. …but even greater still a deepening love of the Lord your Father in heaven that cannot be contained or explained.

…as I drove out the gate… I looked on the side of the road and could see the worldly cares I had left when entering, still sitting piled up; that I had dumped right outside the gate. I paused for a split second in thought as my eyes welled up with tears of joy. I drove away… leaving the pile still sitting there. I won’t be needing those again I thought as sweet tears began flowing down my cheeks. A sense of an atmosphere shift lingered with me in the car. A heart overflowing and a feeling of pure love beyond measure.

To those that don’t know God….  the code you enter to “The Gate” is Jesus. Ask Jesus into your heart and the gate will open for anyone who will ask.

All the love in the world to you.

-Brandilynn Edgerton

A Written Proposal

Contributed by James Bennett

I started a letter to God in 2013 with thanksgiving and praise as I had been taught in my discipleship class. As I wrote, the Spirit of the Lord came upon me. His presence was closer and more evident than any time before, and different than any time since. The atmosphere was sweet and romantic, yet very intense. My body responded. I was weeping uncontrollably. Fallen tears soaked the pages and spotted my jeans. Struggling to breath, I resolved to write. What began as a letter of request had dramatically turned into the most honest love letter I had ever written. My heart broke open, and feelings I had never known before gushed out. Because it was a love letter, I will keep details personal between God and me. However, I will share that repeatedly, and in various ways, I expressed how I wanted God’s companionship in all areas of my life. I asked that He free me from the worry of lack of money. I longed for stability.

The original purpose of the letter was to request what I wanted in the following year. I was going to ask that God grant me more income for financial stability, a permanent home, and a wife. Yet, I was so moved by love that I forgot to include the details.

Actually I did not forget anything. I was intensely focused on what was important, and the small details were not. In fact, those types of details that you and I have all planned in life are really solutions on how to live without God. As I wrote, I was so moved by God’s love that I could only request that He meet my needs.

The following year, 2014, did not look like I thought it would, however, all of my needs were met. I took an $80,000 decrease in pay and could not plan 2 meals ahead. Instead of bringing me more income to free me from financial worries, God took income out of the equation altogether. He made it very easy for me to witness His provision, so that I could not miss where true provision comes from. He did this repeatedly over and over that year. I no longer worry about money. That does not mean I have an abundance of money. In fact, there are often times where I lack what is needed. Worry in these times has been replaced with a sense of wellbeing.

The beginning of 2014 started with me owning my own home, and ended with me having to sell it. God showed me how my home is not in what surrounds me, but what is in me. The Kingdom of Heaven is my home and home is where the heart is. No matter where I am living physically, I have access to this home that transforms the atmosphere around me.

I longed for companionship, yet I did not get married that year. I felt more alone that year than any year before. Like with income, God removed companionship with people from the equation so that I could clearly see Him. That year my relationship with Him grew deeper and deeper, as I imagine it would for newlyweds that relocate to a new city with no money.

The experience I shared with the Lord when writing that letter in 2013 changed me. I had never known Him to be so real. He later revealed to me that the letter was a proposal from my heart to His. I proposed to be married to Him and His ways forever. I also proposed to build a life together. This may not have been my intentions when starting the letter, but when we are in His presence our desires are purified. The solutions I originally sought after were displaced by the only true solution, the love of God.

 

 

Cantaloupe Story

 

When my friend Karisma shared the following story with me I was in awe of God’s individual love for His children. I pray it will bless you as it has blessed me.

One morning, after spending time with the Lord, I was stirred with the desire to bless a couple I knew. I was excited at the possibility to do something special for them from the Lord. Since I felt that it should be food of some sort, I went to the supermarket. As I walked down the aisles, I eagerly inquired of the Lord what it was that I was supposed to get. I thought, “I want to give them the best because that’s what they deserve…an expensive steak perhaps. Only the best.”

As I continued walking up and down the aisles, I kept asking the Lord what He wanted me to give them. Then I heard this answer: “Cantaloupe.”

I thought, “Cantaloupe? That can’t be right. Cantaloupe is not expensive. Besides, I don’t even know how to pick a ripe cantaloupe. I must have heard wrong or something.” So I continued walking down the meat aisle and again asked the Lord what He wanted me to give to them.

Again I heard, “Cantaloupe.” So I thought ‘okay’ and walked over the to the produce section and one by one began picking up cantaloupes and smelling and thumping them, all the while telling the Lord that I did not know which fruit to pick and asking Him if He was sure about this. As I was smelling and thumping about the 6th fruit I heard, “This one.” So I put said fruit in the basket and walked through the store asking the Lord, “What else?”

I didn’t think that just one thing would do so I thought, “Now…I should get that steak or something along that line.” But instead, I heard the Lord tell me to get vanilla ice cream. My response to Him was, “What?!? You have GOT to be kidding! Vanilla ice cream?” But I knew that I had heard the Lord, so I walked to the freezer section and stared at the vast choices of vanilla ice cream. There were about 5 or 6 different flavors of just vanilla ice cream!

I stood in front of those glass freezer doors and asked, “Which one?” His reply came, “Vanilla Bean.” I opened the door and pulled out a gallon of Vanilla Bean ice cream, put it in the basket and wondered, ‘Okay…now for the steaks.” “That’s all,” said the Lord. I sighed and said, “Okay,” and headed to the checkout counter.

It seemed strange and a little sparse to me, but that is what the Lord wanted to give to this couple. Immediately, I drove over to their house and knocked on the door. When Margie answered, I handed the bags to her and sheepishly said, “This is from the Lord,” and quickly made my exit. I am quite shy by nature and I was hoping and praying that I hadn’t completely blundered what the Lord wanted to do.

About an hour or so later I received a call from Margie. “How did you know?” I was taken by surprise and replied, “What? How did I know what?” She said, “How did you know that it is Ernest’s birthday?” I was stunned. “It’s Ernest’s birthday? I didn’t know,” I replied. Margie went on to explain, “This morning Ernest was spending time with the Lord and told Him that all he wanted for his birthday was cantaloupe and vanilla ice cream. He didn’t have the money himself to purchase it, but that was what he wanted.”

As she told this to me, I was filled with such a wide array of emotions. In fact, I am tearing up right now as I am recanting the story. Jesus is so good…from giving very specifically, to being blessed, to knowing how and why I was used, and so many things in between! I left that conversation praising the Lord and being so humbled and thankful that He would use me in such a specific way!

Contributed by Karisma Luke