with all of my heart.

Lord, teach me to thrive in danger, to find joy in the things I fear.

Set my Spirit on fire in the very moments when I feel most uncomfortable.

This is an intense prayer to pray.  But I have been praying it.  Because I am tired of living halfheartedly.  But how in the world am I supposed to love with all my heart when there is so much to feel, so much to see, so much to hear, so much to think?  This past semester, I was constantly overwhelmed with the world…overwhelmed with how little time and energy I had to love people the way I wanted to, and the way God calls me to.

If I thought I felt overwhelmed with a need to love people in Boulder, imagine the panic of my heart as I prepared to walk through the streets of Phuket at night, where the absence of pure love is close to unbearable.
As I prepared to go out to the bars for the first time that night, I begged Him to fill me up.

Jesus let me be filled with an uncontrollable, unstoppable, all-consuming NEED and DESIRE to spread your love story, and my story, with everyone I meet.  Fill me with waves of love that CRASH and BURST out of me, waves of proclamation that tell of who you are and who we are in you.  Lord I’m sick of dreading ministry because I feel scared or unworthy to love people the way you created me to.  I am sick of being overwhelmed by all that there is to do that I become paralyzed.

The Lord gave me a passage from a book I am reading called Forgotten God:
“He is so much MORE and BIGGER than you will ever be able to grasp.  This is not an excuse to stop seeking to know Him, but don’t limit Him to what you know about Him or to what you can learn about Him.  The point is not to completely understand God but to worship Him.  Let the very fact that you cannot know Him fully lead you to praise Him for His infiniteness and grandeur.”

It hit me.  The things we don’t understand about the Lord are not just supposed to bring us to our knees in a desire to know Him more, but they should allow us to praise Him for the way He surpasses our understanding.  And the things that we don’t understand about the world should not limit our desire to live for Him, but should allow Him to work in and through us even when we don’t think it’s possible, even when we don’t understand how.

That first night out on the streets, I encountered much more darkness and pain than my human heart could handle.  Talk about danger and discomfort. 

Chaos of blinking lights and blaring music engulfed me.  Men left and right thrust pamphlets in my face with lists of services offered up dark staircases and behind hidden black curtains.  Huge statues of wild jungle animals roared from various bars, ominously resembling “our enemy the devil who prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  Names of bars like “The G Spot,” “The Orgasm Bar,” and “The Devil’s Playground” beckoned customers.  Mass crowds on the streets wore lingerie instead of clothing.  Girls as young as 13 danced up and down stripper poles lining the main road, sexy, seducing smiles plastered to their infantile faces.  Families on vacation wandered aimlessly, child tourists gazing around.  Bar girls smashed down shot after shot behind counters, numbing themselves.  Men with wedding rings rubbed their hands drunkenly over their Thai beauties’ bodies.  As I sat at a bar, a 5 year-old boy crawled up into my lap and started kissing my cheeks, trying to get me to buy flower necklaces as he looked frantically across the room at the man who owned him and enslaved him night after night.

I was slapped in the face with prostitution, child labor, slavery, trafficking, sex, adultery, greed, money, lust, the dominion of darkness like I had never witnessed before.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms…”

How did I survive those 2 hours?

I not only survived, but I thrived in that danger, I found JOY in the darkness it is so easy to fear.  The Lord not only allowed me to endure that night, but He miraculously allowed me to love every moment of that night.  I hated what was evil, but I clung to what was good.  I loved seeing all of that darkness and knowing in my inner most being that our God is greater, that His love and light are brighter.

My heart was captivated that night.  Captivated with the emptiness that the Lord wants to fill.  I met Sunee, Su, Nueng, Ning, Joy, and countless others.  I exchanged phone numbers, emails, and hugs.  I spoke truth.  I offered freedom.  When girls told me bluntly that they hated the things they are unknowingly enslaved to, I had the honor and privilege to look them straight in the eyes, hold their hands tightly, stroke their beautiful hair, and say confidently “I know how to help you.”  As I told them about a physical safe home that they could come to and learn English and hotel management and jewelry-making, I was offering another safe home that they have in Jesus.  A place where they can be rescued from the dominion of darkness they face every night and every day.

It is not about loving others in our own power.  It is about loving the Lord so much that somehow in our love for Him, and in His love for us, we cannot help but let Him use His power in us to do His will.

 “Love the Lord your GOD with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts” Deuteronomy 6:5

If I feel like I don’t have the capacity or capability to LOVE things and people the way I desire, that means that I am not surrendering them to the Lord and letting HIM work miraculously in and through me…

I love Him.  That’s all I need.

Only in a wholehearted love pursuit of my Abba Father, am I finally free to love the world wholeheartedly.

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