When my awakening started, I thought I was crazy. It was 7:00 AM on Sunday, March 29th. I had been lying in an ICU bed for just over a week, hovering between life and death, often closer to the side of death, according to my doctor. I had gotten a mere three hours of sleep the night before, because, well, one doesn’t sleep in ICU unless one is unconscious or sedated. That morning, I jerked out of a dream: Not the nightmares of which I am all too familiar, but it was a type of dream hat I had never before experienced. I awoke with a jolt, sweating, shivering, aware that my sepsis fever had finally broken. Before the doctor came in with my white blood cell count, I already knew that it had dropped.
The night before, I had boldly followed God’s prompting to re-establish communication with my parents after an extended separation, which, interestingly enough, I had initiated five years prior after a powerful Lenten season of prayer and fasting.
As clearly as God said to “break up” with my parents, He said when it was time to come back home. The reunion over the phone was beautiful. It was tearful, loving, and gracious. It was something only God could orchestrate. And that Saturday night, before the morning of March 29th, I felt the spirit of fear lift from my shoulders, so that for the first time, I could rest. And I did.
But when my eyes opened on Sunday, March 29th at seven in the morning, the weight of glory was pressing so heavily on me that I could barely comprehend what was happening. I had just experienced a dream of prophecy, one where God spoke clearly and directly to my heart as I emerged to consciousness. The words left lingering in my mind as I swam up from my ocean of sleep were these:
Beloved, you cannot control the outcome.
And the song on my heart was Reign Above it All by the McClures.
With the combination of those two messages, God was clearly declaring that I can release my death-grip on control, and that He holds us all in His mighty hand. As the opening line to the song says:
The reign of darkness now has ended in the kingdom of light.
The reign of fear was now abolished in the kingdom of God at work in my life.
These were the words that my overwhelmed heart most needed to hear.
It was as if God was speaking to me about the season that I was stepping into and calling me to surrender my need for the illusion of control over my life and the lives of my loved ones. He had set me free from fear the night before. Now He would set me free from the need to control, which grew out of the underlying fear.
As I woke that morning, against the backdrop of the constant beeps, hums, and alarms of ICU, the sounds of ICU seemed clearer, the air felt crisper, the light seemed somewhat blinding, and my heart was leaping with a new, unfamiliar airy lightness. Amid all of this, I also felt as I imagine Isaiah must have felt in chapter 6 of his book, after his beloved king Uzziah died and Isaiah saw the Lord. In a rapturous vision, he beheld the King of glory, seated on His throne, as the beings of heaven worshipped Him, and he declared in complete brokenness,
“Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”
I could have said Isaiah’s declaration word-for-word after my experience early that Sunday morning in the ICU.
Instead, trembling, I picked up my phone, which felt heavy and foreign, and called Jordan, to find him still lying in bed, in the process of waking. He answered, foggy, and I paused, with no words; just choked sobs hanging in my throat. I was a muffled mess of stumbling, tripping nonsense syllables, and I think I just stated to him that I might be insane.
In the midst of my verbal stumbling and summersaults, I communicated at some level that I had seen the Lord and was overwhelmed by His glory. I also may have said that I needed God to back up a bit, because I might burn up in His blaze. And Jordan, a few steps removed from my experience and always rational, calmly stated that it was good, that I wasn’t crazy, and that he was happy for me. And with that, I let him go because he had to prepare for a church service.
The next day, as the doctors watched, jaws on the floor, I was discharged, miraculously healed, and wheeled out to my car, into a world that felt brighter still, where it seemed as if the veil between heaven and earth were thinning, and I could not stop saying, “Everything seems so strange.” By “strange,” I meant heavenly, but it was indeed odd to me, because never before had I carried this level and weight of glory around with me. When I tried to explain it, the best illustration that I could find was this one: “It is as if heaven were kissing earth.” In all honesty, I was more in awe of my spiritual experience of awakening than I was by my miraculous physical healing. Something far deeper had been healed within me in the crucible of that ICU bed.
In the midst of this “awakening,’ I am observing something else, much more overwhelming, much more universal: I’m not alone in my awakening.
Around the world, the church is communicating the same story: We are waking up to the glory of the Lord. I have spoken with others who are experiencing similar revivals of the heart as I am. My own brother agreed that it seems impossible to miss God in this season, that He is so clear and bright. Just tonight, a friend on facebook asked if anyone else is hearing more clearly from God during this season. Another, in the comments declared, “even the stars seem brighter.”
As I emerge from ICU, it is as if I have been raised from the dead.
My prayers seem different: more urgent; clearer.
My praying in the Spirit has different words, a different speed, a greater fervency.
The Bible verses that I have known all my life have leapt off the page with new meanings, greater application, and are more alive than I have ever known the living word of God to be.
My personality is different: I love differently, as though I weren’t afraid of losing: there is just love. My compassion level is higher. It is as though God has given me His eyes and His heart for people on a deeper level.
As the weeks have passed, the intensity of the experience has lessened. I am not sure if I am growing accustomed to the brightness of the glory, or if I am not stewarding it in the way that He is calling me to, but I don’t want to lose the vision that He gave me in those early hours of the morning on Sunday, March 29th.
God is igniting many bushes in this strange season of tragedy, loss, and global crisis, but we are not consumed. Some have called this the calling out of the “hidden ones.”God seems to be calling the prayer warriors to the front lines for the seasons that lie before us.
God, keep us burning with your Spirit. Obviously, Your plan is unfolding, and You are calling out your church as the burning ones, the hidden ones, coming out of hiding, into a place of proclamation of Your word and truth.
Don’t let us, in our need for normalcy, shake off your glory too eagerly for the sake of normalcy. Normal is overrated anyway. Help us to embrace the “strangeness” of our clarity of focus, allowing You to carry the weight of glory that now presses down upon our physical beings, and help us to abide in You so that we do not grow weary in a world that bears the brokenness, the fear, and the uncertainty that comes with a world that shakes with instability. We know that You are unshakable, and so You are our solid foundation.