There’s A Place For Me

“Who the Son sets free

Oh is free indeed

I’m a child of God

Yes I am

In my Father’s arms

There’s a place for me

I’m a child of God

Yes I am” – Who You Say I Am by Hillsong Worship

 

I completely misheard this verse last Saturday in Franklin, Tennessee during the cooldown of the Rev On The Road workout.  But I didn’t really mishear it.  I heard it loud and clear exactly the way my Daddy wanted me to hear it.  

Every summer God seems to make me keenly aware of the injustice in this broken world, especially where race is concerned.  I just noticed His timing this summer. I think God opened my eyes to the fact that He’s been pricking my heart for the past several summers so I would let go and let Him move freely.

If the question of race or race relations makes you uncomfortable, go ahead and stop reading now.  If someone sharing their pain – whether over their personal experiences or the experiences of others – makes you want to check out, please do so now.  But if you choose to continue reading, I ask that you do so with an open mind and a softened heart.

I have avoided posting about race for years now.  Be it my own experience, or my response to instances of systematic racism – namely the killing of unarmed men of color. All because of fear.  Fear that I wouldn’t share my feelings well. That my doing so would make people uncomfortable. That when God told me to open my mouth via my keyboard that my brokenness and unaddressed hurts would muddy His message.  So, as I sit here typing these words I keep praying to Him, between tears, that He will heal my hurts as I type so my hurt doesn’t turn to anger. Because while people can relate to anger, they can’t always hear past it.

I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Made on purpose with a purpose. I walk in this truth daily.  But being a woman of color who presents as white has been a very lonely experience at times.  I’ve endured passive aggressive and overt racism only to hear that I wasn’t “really Hispanic” or “really Black” or “not like that” implying that the hurtful words didn’t apply to me because I wasn’t really a member of the minority group being referenced.  And I’d wonder – even sometimes ask out loud – well, if those words didn’t apply to me, did they apply to my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins? And on the flipside, I’ve gone out of my way to prove myself as a woman of color – that I belonged with the other brown women.  Sometimes it’s all been in my head and other times I’ve been asked certain questions to see if my membership was legit or if it was going to to be rejected.

And that’s what it comes down to, doesn’t it?  Whether the question rests on race or some other means of identification, it all comes down to belonging or being rejected.  And when I heard these lyrics God let me hear “In my Father’s arms there’s a place for me” I desperately needed to be held and didn’t even know it.  In my life I have experienced more rejection – real or imagined – than I would have liked to.  I’ve never felt like there was any place for me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel like this all the time. But it’s always like music playing in the background of my everyday life.  I’m not acutely aware of it until I am.

I honestly thought I had let go of all of this belonging and identity stuff years ago.  I was walking across the local dam and God told me that I didn’t need to be brown enough, or Latina enough, because I was His.  It was the first time in my adult life I felt lies about my identity break off of me. It was cathartic but painful enough for me to want that to be the end of the healing process.  Today, I accept that this is truly a process. And as long as I’m breathing He will take me deeper into the hard places to bring me more freedom, healing, and peace.

God met me on that mat last Saturday and allowed me to feel His presence in such a tangible, loving way.  I did not like the feelings that He stirred up inside of me, namely the deep sense of vulnerability, but it was so very worth it.  I don’t remember everything He declared over me because our time together was cut short due to me needing to fulfill my duties as a volunteer at the event.  But I did promise Him to get still long enough to go back with Him to that space of surrender.

I’m not really sure why God wouldn’t let me go to sleep until I wrote this. It may just be for my benefit – obedience does feel so much better than the alternative – but I pray that it isn’t.  If He’s been calling you deeper, go. It may seem scary and there may be tears, but I promise you the encounter will be worth it. He always is.

Make Jesus Lord

I love hearing from God.  I like it when He gives me words of encouragement to give to friends via text, a phone call, or in person.  My favorite is when it comes out of the blue.  When I haven’t talked to the friend in a minute and God tells me to reach out and give them a particular message.  It’s my favorite scenario because without fail, even though the message seems out of the blue to me, it’s right on topic and right on time for the friend who hears it.

I love hearing from God.  Most of the time.

I don’t particularly like hearing from God when the message He asks me to share feels like sandpaper. You know, the kind of message that doesn’t quite line up with the idea we have of God that we sometimes worship instead of worshiping Him as the King of kings and Lord of lords that He is.

I’ve been reading through the Old Testament (one of my goals for the year is to read through the Bible) and somewhere between 1 Samuel and 1 Kings, God started to speak a message to be shared.  I’m not sure how God talks to other people, but when He gives me revelation it’s as though He has downloaded the information in such a way that I can see the forest and the individual trees at the same time.  Unfortunately, I am not God and I am not able to convey information the same way.

Oftentimes, when I share a message – especially a sandpaper message – I get distracted by the message and trip over my own words trying to explain what God meant like He needs an interpreter or a public defender.  He doesn’t. And I know this, but it doesn’t make the delivery any easier.

So, here I am trying to share a sandpaper message as plainly as I can.

American doesn’t need to focus on being great again.  As a nation, the United States needs to focus on making Jesus Lord.  I asked God, “Oh, like Make Jesus Lord Again, instead of Make America Great Again?”  I wasn’t trying to be cute with Him, but I did think it was a clever presumption.  He said that saying that America needed to make Jesus Lord again implied that He was Lord at some point.  Ouch.

He brought me back to 2 Samuel when the people of Israel are pleading with God to have a king rule over them.  Samuel makes it very clear to them what life will be like with a king ruling over Israel and he implores them to instead turn to God and allow Him to be their King.  But they do not heed his warning and instead continue to make their case for having an earthly king.

It’s easy to shake one’s head when reading the history of the Israelites and completely overlook the fact that we too put too many expectations on and hopes in human leaders.  Humanity cannot cure what ails humanity, namely our sinful nature.  Only God can do that.  And yet, we place unrealistic expectations on one another, including our local, state, and national leaders.

And here’s the thing, the United States of America is not a Christian nation.  It is a nation that has Christians living within its borders, but it isn’t a Christian nation the way the nation of Israel was a nation of the twelve tribes of Israel.  I know this.  But still, as believers, as followers of Christ, we have the power to intercede on behalf of believers and non-believers alike.

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

I have tried to write this post over the past couple of months but stopped for fear that people might interpret it as being an indictment of a controversy within the current administration.  Unfortunately, the controversies seem to come and go so quickly, I had to post this out of obedience and let go of the possibility that someone could misinterpret this as being related to the most current controversy at the time of making the post public.

I usually like to tie my posts up in a nice bow, wrapping everything all together, even if it’s just with a quote.  But I don’t have a bow for this post.  While we live in a great country, it is not perfect.  Not the government, not the citizens.  I pray that we, as followers of Christ, would lead the charge in knocking down the altars we’ve set up for the idols of country, political party, and politicians.  Our hope is in Christ alone.