Don't Be A Moses

      Most of you know that my favorite saying is, "Wanna make God laugh? Tell Him all about the plans you have for yourself." People always ask me what my major is and what I plan to do with my degree when I finish. My answer has always been to teach my discipline, English, at the high school level; when I finish my doctorate, I'll teach at the college level. I usually polish off my perfect plan with, "It's really a fall-back for music ministry." Boy, my faith sure was lacking, wasn't it.
      About a month ago I found myself face-down on my bedroom floor in tremendous spiritual pain. There were groans of desperation coming from the pit of my being that were unearthly. I think sometimes when we read that someone "cried out to God" in the Word we don't take it seriously. I wasn't understanding why God had allowed some rough junk to enter my life and turn my sparkly little world upside down.
      I had been praying for days since the warfare had gone from "it's been a rough year" to "God, let me die." As I said in my last post, I'll write about this "rough year" in the future when it's all settled in my heart and I'm completely healed. But right now, I'm still in the middle of the healing season. However, there is much about healing that we fail to tell each other and ourselves. For instance, healing isn't just the renewing of our minds and then we're done. There's a process that involves several aspects: forgiveness toward others, forgiveness toward ourselves if needed (and it usually is), and total surrender and dependence on God. We also have to understand that, much like a flesh wound is sore, itchy, and finally just an old fading scar, a spiritual wound is the same. I'm in the itching stage right now. That's when the wound is annoyed and aggravated by the enemy and his minions, but I'm strong enough in Christ to brush that mess off. Eventually it will be a smooth scar, a battle wound that will serve as a reminder to use my shield of faith the next time one of Satan's fiery darts flies my way. But before any of this takes place, there's the flushing of the wound--the most painful part.
      Wound-flushing is the act of cleaning out a cut or gash to prevent or rid the surrounding area of infection. It also aids in healing. Jordan cut his finger down to the bone on an auger once and had to have stitches and a tetanus shot. In the triage room the nurse used a large syringe to forcefully squirt saline solution into his open wound. The fast flowing water from the force behind the syringe blew out tiny pieces of rust, dirt, and debris from Jordan's finger, making room for the flesh to properly pull itself together under the stitches as one piece on his finger, protecting the inside from further germ-collection, in effect protecting his hand, arm, and body as a whole. It was painful for him, and watching the process from my end was almost as uncomfortable.
      In the midst of my spiritual wound-flushing, God revealed all of where I'd gotten off track with Him as each little piece was gently but forcefully blown out of my heart by His cleansing and graceful flood. I watched as God flushed out splinters and chunks of spiritual rust, jagged-edged glass and shrapnel from my torn spirit. Some of the debris pieces were my own fault, some of them circumstances over which I had no control but inevitably got caught in the crossfire; parts were simply from attacks. I asked God to speak to me and I told Him I would do whatever if He would just save me from the demons in my head and show me what steps to take next. I've never been in as much spiritual pain as I was then.
      A few mornings later I woke up to God's voice: I want you. Change your major to theology. Insert record scratch here. I sat straight up in my bed; His voice was so crisp and clear that I thought I was dreaming and I even looked around the room to see if Jordan was talking to me. He wasn't there; he was at work. What? What in the world am I gonna do with that, preach? I laughed a little, then I remembered when Sarah laughed at the angel who told her husband she'd have a baby in her old age, and I retracted that slight giggle faster than I let it escape my lips.
      Never, I repeat, NEVER put anything past God. Now, I'm not saying I'm called to preach. Honestly, I don't know that; He hasn't taken me quite that far yet. But God did show me something huge that morning.
      I went to school two-and-a-half years before with the aforementioned  goal in mind to attain a degree in English. I'd toiled away at papers for hours on end and read books I repeatedly told myself I loved. In fact, I spent a lot of money at my favorite store, McKay, on a library of classic reads. While I love to read and write and I always will, I tried for two years to be something I knew deep down I just wasn't meant to be. There's a reason the word liberal comes into the title of "liberal arts department." And let's face it: Brandi and the word liberal don't mix. I didn't fit the mold. And there were quite a few to fit into: are you a Brit lit gal or a dark Poe gal? What about feminism? Do ya wanna take over "man's world?" Then there's southern writing and African American literature, poetry and American writers, and the list goes on. Before I even came in to the program I was being categorized, simply by how I look and by my age. I was expected to pick one and what I picked would be my banner, the bumper sticker of who I was on the English highway to literary greatness.  But my spirit always knew. . . it wasn't about who I was in English. It was supposed to be about who I was in Christ. None of the molds fit. None of the categories had a Brandi-shaped hole. . . better yet, a Jesus-shaped hole. As much as I griped to my friends and family, as much as I tried to reshape English, like an ill-fitting pair of skinny jeans on a plus-size gal, the program and plan just didn't fit right.
      After the spiritual warfare our family went through last year had all but ended, I shut down spiritually and threw myself into school. This is where the devil dug his sneaky little claws and I slowly lost track of the kingdom purpose the Father had called me to decades before when I was saved. I listened to every voice around me that I knew full well wasn't the Holy Spirit's. Not realizing it, I was playing with fire in several ways and thinking I was fireproof. Praise God, His grace and mercy is sufficient, and He'll only allow His children to go so far before that grace suffocates the fire and calms the child around which it dances. While I wasn't burned, I was stunned by how close I'd gotten to the heat when my blinded eyes were opened to all that was happening around me. See, we may not think we're doing anything wrong after a battle dies down and we settle quietly to avoid pain and move forward. But when we're silent and there's no communication with Father, who's there immediately to give communication in the Holy Spirit's stead and plant rotten seeds in our fragile, dry soil? The enemy is not above slithering through the cold mud to warm himself by a stagnant body. This is where he lays his traps, and I almost fell into a couple of them. Some of you are wondering, "What'd you do?! What kinds of sin did you fall into?! I think we should pray!! AAAHHHH!!!!" I didn't do anything, and I certainly didn't fall into anything. But I easily could have, and I certainly withdrew from the Father unintentionally. I'm no different than the next guy or gal. I'm human just like you. And while the spirit is so willing, the flesh is still so weak. The importance and point of the scenario is to highlight God's mercy and plan over our lives. While God saved the day and rescued me from a lifetime of pain, He also allowed the fire into my life to teach me the importance of drawing close to Him especially after spiritual warfare. That's the point when the enemy will pull the rug out from under us if we're not careful and totally dependent on God.
      I ripped apart literature as I read through it, analyzing and molding its components, only to find that my interpretations were always of the spiritual nature. My professors would always comment on and applaud my understanding of the spiritual side of literature. I never understood their seemed fascination with this; to me there was no other side, as hard as I tried to see it. I would flesh out other analyses but they always came back to Jesus. When the Holy Spirit becomes one with the human spirit and finds rest in the body and soul He inhabits, it's hard,  no, it's impossible to separate one's mind from the heart of Christ she's after. I couldn't know anything else. I saw it; I was more than aware of it. My eyes were already open. And what was the point of knowing anything but holiness when I was created for His glory, His purpose, His calling, His holiness?
      Over the course of those two plus years, I'd spent dollar after dollar here and there on the canonical classics of the liberal arts. I'd laid awake in bed all through nights writing a senior thesis to please a handful of people and win the approval of their intellectual minds, some who didn't even believe in the One who created the art itself. I wanted to be the best. I wanted to write the best. I wanted to impress the best. And since I'd been so severely hurt by the Body of Christ, my own people, my desire was simply to forgive, forget, and move on. So my hunger to fill the open and rotting wound became ravenous as I tossed one written word, one professor's approval stamp, one A+, and one penned classic after another into the polluted gash and stuffed the infection as far beneath the pile of paper work as I possibly could. It came to a point where I didn't even know why anymore. I had no clue why I was an English major; I only sought to prove a point, but I was so separated from what that point was that I didn't even know there wasn't a point from the outset.
       It was then that God woke me up, literally and figuratively that morning in July to say, "You know better than to think your calling is English."
      As I sat up in bed I thought to myself and to God, What am I gonna do with this?
      Study to show yourself approved, Brandi.
      But I love English. You know this. . . right?
      No, you don't. You just like it. Big difference. I know your heart.  
      I can't preach, God. I'm a singer. We've been over this.
     You can do all things through my son who gives you strength. And, hello! I'm God. Anything's possible with me.
      I'm not a speaker, God. I'll sing all day for You, but I'm not a speaker.
      Brandi, please don't be a Moses. Learn from him.
      But I'm a chick, God.
      That one, He did not like. And from there He made it very evident that He was going to reveal who can do what in His name. From there, He reminded me of His hand and calling on my life. And I followed God's lead to change my major.
      For months since we solidified the move I'd been trying to work out classes, my advisor, and my transfer credits. While everything transferred, I was having trouble getting into classes and my advisor was always unreachable. No matter how I finagled my way around phone calls, emails, other departments or teachers, I could hardly get hold of her. It was like there was an invisible wall surrounding me. I was also having trouble with financial aid and how to pay that almost $30,000 tuition.
      The morning came when God spoke. I had been playing with the idea of changing my major for about two days when I awoke from the previous night's sleep to God's call. This was the last call I ever expected to hear from God. Of all majors, why this one? I made my decision that day and didn't look back.
       I emailed my admissions counselor to find out how I was to go about changing my major. 24 hours later I still hadn't heard from her, so I checked my account for other information when I noticed my major change had been updated. Within minutes I had received an email from my new advisor and within another 24 hours I was signed up for classes. My financial came through shortly after, and what I thought was going to be a $10,000 remainder for me to pay out of pocket turned out to be only $1,896. I was set. The door was open and all I had to do was walk through it.
      Since then I have questioned God many times: I'm excited about ministry and theology, but God, why? I'm not fully understanding this. My heart has learned yet another lesson at this stage of the life game. Self-discovery is a never ending journey. But it's not Self I'm after. It's Jesus.
       I have talked so many times before about how I'm constantly trying to find Brandi. In reality, I'm not supposed to be seeking Brandi. I'm supposed to be seeking God. I can't focus on who I am even as a Bible major, but rather who I am in Christ and more importantly who He is in me. In Jeremiah 29:13 God says, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart. " There are no tag lines about seeking through self or another outlet; He simply says "when you seek me with all of your heart." We are made in God's image (Genesis 1:27) and we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:17). If I'm searching for Brandi, I'm not searching for Christ. It isn't Brandi that leads me, it's His Holy Spirit.
      Finally God gave me some insight. I've been drowning in peace concerning my decision and my calling. But God knows this analytical mind better than it knows itself. So He sent me a little push:

      Luke 6:40. Yeah . . . Sometimes I forget that the answers are right in front of my face . . . and they're written on the tablet of my heart (Proverbs 7:3). 
      My first big paper is to be an exegetical research paper on 1 Corinthians 14:33-36. After all of my questioning and my challenge of sorts to God concerning my sex and its place in ministry, He made my first assignment one that will shape my thoughts about women in ministry for the rest of my life. 
He's quick like that. 
      

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