Like An Avalanche

People often ask me:
“How did you feel called to be a Pastor?”
Here is how He did just that…

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“Now to Him who is able to do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine,
according to His power that is at work within us,
to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.
Amen”
– Ephesians 3:20-21

It’s so crazy how the Lord can use the smallest things to lead to such powerful moments.
He uses even the smallest things to show us who He is in such unforgettable ways.

Driving just to drive, I’m surprised how many memories flood my mind…

For some?
Driving is a chore… but for me? It’s one of my favorite things to do.
Armed with my backpack and a yellow camping chair, my mind is reflecting on all that my eyes see as I drive into places that those same eyes have never seen before…
As I drive?
My heart meditates on the many roads that brought me to where I am driving now.
I find myself speaking to and thinking of the Creator as I sing to the music that is currently playing in my car that You’ve provided…

Lord… I am in awe that You’ve placed me where I am.
It seems like yesterday the year was 2011 and I was broken on the floor of my room surrendering every shattered piece of the man I am to You.
It BLOWS my mind that regardless of the seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years that go by, I still feel You growing me!
Honestly Lord, even during this simple drive into the unknown after work…
even nowI feel that I am not the same person that I was 30 minutes ago.

Lord, You are in the business of changing hearts
and I am no exception to what You do.

As I drive?

One of the memories that come to my mind,

is a moment that I will never forget…

a moment where You met me broken, taught me what ministry was, and called me to do just that even unto death.

July 2011… it was July 2011.

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That little 17 year old “boy in the middle”?
Is me.
This photo is funny to me
because this was taken only a month after surrendering my life to Jesus
And before then?
I hardly ever smiled in photos.
Goodness Lord, You really do change hearts…



“Cheeeessseeee!”

I remember thinking of a witty comment to make as the photographer tried to get us to smile, but like most things in my life… I was a little late and it never happened (lol).

But seriously, I appreciate this photo so much! I appreciate this photo because it is a reminder of Isaiah 55:8 where JUST after God promised to “abundantly pardon” the wicked, He follows up His promise with the following statement:

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
– Isaiah 55:8 (NLT)

This photo reminds me of this verse because it reminds me of the events that allowed the “boy in the middle” to go on the trip that this photo shows us getting ready to leave for.

The events?

  • The Pastor’s daughter started liking him a few weeks earlier and invited him to come to her church (which a few weeks before this photo he had NO idea existed).
  • That same girl introduced him to the Youth Pastor (who is kneeling in red) a few weeks prior to this trip (which to this day is one of my best friends and such an incredible mentor in my life)
  • That same Youth Pastor, a few days before this photo, thought of the “boy in the middle” when an “empty seat” became available on the bus due to another individual randomly canceling.

This photo reminds me that there is no such thing as coincidence…
This photo reminds me that the Lord knows what He’s doing
EVEN in the “last-minute changes” of our lives.

I had no idea that around 12 hours after this photo was taken,
the direction of my life would forever change…
Fast forward 12 hours later.

I remember walking back to the dormitory for the night and thinking about a prayer that I prayed earlier to God a few hours earlier, where I basically said:
“Jesus, do whatever You want to do in and through me… and make it clear.
Show me more of Who You are”
.

I was only a “month old” since surrendering my life to Jesus (click here to read more about this moment) and it blew my mind that I was at a retreat with other believers my age from across the WHOLE state of South Carolina! It also blew my mind that a Pastor’s daughter was interested in me (lol). I remember walking back that night next to her, feeling so much excitement and wonder with NO IDEA what was to happen next.

It’s so crazy how the Lord can use the smallest things to lead to such powerful moments.
He uses even the smallest things to show us who He is in such unforgettable ways.

I remember that we were almost to the dormitory when I heard the first whispers and laughs from the girls that were walking with me…
I remember that they were laughing at a girl in front of me (that I had never met until that day) who they were talking about and laughing at.
Honestly? I don’t remember exactly what was said, or how what was said was said (if that makes sense), but I clearly remember being puzzled at what was happening…

Since I never grew up “in the church”, and I never was a part of a “youth group”, my expectations of “church kids” was really high.
Like… really high.

I remember that I always envied “church kids” as I was growing up and even as a 17-year-old boy, I was watching everything “they” did like a hawk…
I was hoping to learn from the “MVP’s” in the faith.

Looking back? I had improper and unrealistic expectations of other people…
however; the Lord used those unrealistic expectations I had for others
to show me His plan and purpose for my life

As they were laughing at the other girl, I remember wondering why something that months ago that would not even in the slightest amount strike me as being “wrong”,
was somehow grieving me now!
As we approached the dormitory, I remember seeing the girl who was being laughed at run ahead clearly distraught…

Jonah…” they said to me in between laughs, “you just don’t know her”.

Something was wrong… I remember being so confused what was happening and even more confused why I was feeling so grieved at what happened. As the group ran ahead, I remember feeling led to hang back and find the girl who ran into the building crying.
As I looked for her in the halls of the dormitory, I remember finally finding her in a room sitting with her hands covering her face and the Youth Pastor who was sitting next to her. As I opened the door, I heard the sobbing.

I remember sitting across from the Youth Pastor… and next to the broken girl thinking,
“Lord forgive us!! We REALLY don’t know what we do!!”
As I listened to the Youth Pastor try to comfort her and remind her of the truth and her worth, I remember expecting one of them to ask why I was there… however, I remember that instead of asking me to leave, or questioning why I was there when they barely knew me, they encouraged me to stay! The Youth Pastor even allowed me an opportunity to comfort her as well. I had no idea that what was happening was a holy moment in my life and for the first time in my life, I laid a hand on someone who was broken and prayed over them that the Lord will heal what was broken. Not only did I feel an empathy for someone else on such a genuine & deep level, I felt a bond between not only the Youth Pastor sitting across from me, but the girl who was crying next to me…
the same people who hours ago were “new” to me?
Now felt like I’ve known them for years!!
I cried when she cried, I laughed when she laughed, and both the Youth Pastor and I was silent when we needed to listen. The Holy Spirit was present and the Holy Spirit was moving through us and in us… it truly was a moment that makes no sense outside of God Himself being present among us… healing, directing, comforting.

I remember leaving that moment almost an hour after entering that room feeling a burden on my heart to talk to the girls who unknowingly caused the girl’s pain and encourage them to make things right with her.
As I walked to the girls dorm room… I remember thinking,
“Goodness… Lord this is so weird! Why am I doing this?!”
I had no idea the Lord was using me at that moment.

 

(I breath in… and I breath out…)
“KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK”

I remember being so nervous as I knocked on their door. Inside I was wrestling with the thought of ignoring what just happened and keeping my mouth shut… but I KNEW what I needed to do.

“Hey Jonah!said the girls in the room with excitement to see me,
“What’s up?! Is everything okay???”

I remember that they said something else laughing and I think they invited me to come in and spend time with the others who were talking to each other in there;
however, I remember my nerves muffling what they were saying…
I knew what I needed to do and I had to do it…

“Ummm… can I talk to you all for a moment??” 

I remember that I proceeded to try to calmly explain what happened and ask them to make things right; however, for some reason they thought I was joking…

“HAHA Jonah, are you serious??!” 

I remember them replying to me laughing and confused why I was so bothered. I remember being confused myself why they would even wonder if I was serious…
(I honestly wish someone would have recorded that conversation. I’m pretty sure I looked like someone who took too much cold medicine as I was awkwardly sweating and stuttering over my words. Thinking about it now, it makes sense why they asked if I was serious… I probably was a nervous mess!)

At that time though, I remember being caught off guard by their response which caused me to get passionate in my request as I urged them that what happened was messed up and wrong. Long story short… the conversation ended with them laughing, upset at me, and shutting the door in my face. I was shocked.

I remember going to my room that night absolutely dumbfounded at what just happened…
I remember for hours crying alone in that room broken and crying out to God saying:
“Why does this hurt so much! God, I felt YOU leading me to do that!
Why does it hurt so bad when I TRIED to just obey You and do what was right!? God this makes NO sense!!” 

As I cried in my bed, I remember I was listening to an album that had just recently came out by a band called Hillsong United. I remember feeling SO out-of-place and for one of the first times in my life I remember understanding the reality this world could NOT be my home! I remember crying out to God for understanding and peace…

I was broken, but I knew He was there.
I was broken, but I knew there had to be something I was missing.
I was broken, but the restlessness I was feeling made me desire Him even more!

All I remember, is the third track of the cd hitting my eardrums and causing my questions start to fade as I felt a peace that truly goes beyond understanding.
(AS I type this, I remember so clearly this moment and to this day it is JUST as real now as it was then… even as I am typing this, this song came on shuffle on my iPad which is playing in the background!! Goodness Jesus, YOU ARE SO REAL!!)

Even though I was still crying, I remember lifting my hands and getting on my knees in the small one bedroom dorm at Coastal Carolina as the song “Like An Avalanche” started playing on my iPod. I remember sobbing as my tears were un-relentlessly falling on the sheets underneath me as I was on my knees. I remember crying HARDER and HARDER as these lyrics penetrated my heart:

“… And I find myself here on my knees again
Caught up in grace like an avalanche
Nothing compares to this love love love
Burning in my heart..”

EVEN as I type this, tears come to my eyes!! I remember SO clearly as I was on the knees on my bed knowing with all of my heart that it was by no coincidence that I was here… on my knees on my bed… crying out for His love and grace…. and BEGGING for Him to meet me where I was broken. It was by NO coincidence the lyrics just happened to perfectly describe where I was at precisely when it did, and it was by NO coincidence that the next lyrics that came did the same thing… Lord, You will use ANYTHING to meet us where we are… I remember not caring about anything else as I cried out:

“JESUS!! I’M YOURS!!”

and as I said this in my heart, these lyrics came to my ears:

“… Take my life
Take all that I am
With all that I am I will love You
Take my heart
Take all that I have
Jesus how I adore You!
TAKE MY LIFE
TAKE ALL THAT I AM
WITH ALL THAT I AM I WILL LOVE YOU!
TAKE MY LIFE
TAKE ALL THAT I HAVE
Jesus how I adore You”

Jesus, I can never forget how you spoke to me at that moment through this song…
Lord, You know what You said and I know that NO words can fully capture what You reminded me in that moment… I have no idea how to articulate what You told me in that moment but I BEG for Grace as I attempt to put into words what You put on my heart that night. I remember feeling you say to me in the pit of my soul the following Truth:

“Jonah I KNOW THIS HURTING YOU FEEL!
I’M HERE JONAH, I KNOW!!

You are not alone, Jonah they are doing to you the same thing that they did to me!
For the rest of your life this is what you are to do:
Go to the broken.
Stand with the broken.
Tell the broken that I HAVE OVERCOME!
I will use you.
I will lead through you.

I will move through you.
I will never leave you.
MY CHILD, I LOVE YOU.
JONAH, I LOVE YOU!”

Goodness God,
FORGIVE ME, FORGIVE US for ever doubting You.
YOU ARE SO, SO, SO REAL AND YOU LOVE US SO, SO, SO MUCH!
YOU KNOW US AND NOTHING SURPRISES YOU!!
Every tear… Every hurt… Every broken heart is so sacred to You!!

At the end of the retreat…
It never worked out with the Pastor’s daughter,
but as I drive through the unknown around me God?
You are the same yesterday at Coastal Carolina University, You are the same now as I sit here and type out these letters, and YOU ARE THE SAME IN OUR TOMORROWS! (Hebrews 13:8)

This post is not about me…
It’s about You Jesus.
and I beg for You to meet the reader where they are right now Father..

Meet them in their brokenness.
Meet them in their shame.
Meet them in their questions.
Meet them in their doubts.
Meet them in their peace.
Meet them in their fear.
Meet them in their tears.
Meet them in their depression.
Meet them in their addictions.
Meet them in their suicidal thoughts.
Meet them in their anxiety.
Meet them…
O GOD MEET US!!

May the person who You’ve brought to this post believe with all their hearts: 
Lord, You are in the business of changing hearts
and I am no exception to what You do…

… Change me.

Lord, You call us all to know you tell others…
You want us to know You and to be known by You.
There truly is no such things as coincidences,
Draw us closer to You Jesus!!
We are Yours!!

May we see the bigger picture in every moment.
Our purpose… our identity is found in You alone.
May each reader see You for who You are…
May we each fall into such real relationship with You that changes us,
just like an avalanche forever changes a mountain.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
– Isaiah 55:8

-J

“And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
– Colossians 1:17

“Now to Him who is able to do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine,
according to His power that is at work within us,
to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.
Amen”
– Ephesians 3:20-21

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Like An Avalanche

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