Sometimes God’s voice shows up in the strangest places. I expect to hear him speak through the Bible and through people who spend a lot of time in his presence. God also speaks to me through nature and through innocent children. Both can be remarkably profound. I’ve learned to pay attention to dreams that stand out and to listen to hymns and worship songs that play in the night and on repeat during the day. But movies and pop songs always surprise me.
Today God spoke through a chance encounter with a Mariah Carey song from the last decade. But first some background…
Beautiful friends prayed for me last night. I was glad I sat at the back of the auditorium because I cried through most of the service that ended a conference where I feasted on solid food. The speaker talked about Jesus setting a pattern of descending in humiliation and ascending in exaltation. (I will probably write more on this as I process the image of Jesus as our great high priest.)
Part of Jesus’ descent involved taking on human form with all its frailties. Satan attacked his identity when he was in a weakened state in the wilderness after a forty day fast. Christ’s exaltation involved ascending to heaven in his glorified body where he sits on the right hand of God as one who identifies, intercedes, and intervenes on our behalf. He made a way for us into the holy of holies with his own perfect blood sacrifice.
One of my life verses has been “That I might know him,” but I can’t ignore that the scripture combines knowing him with “and the fellowship of his sufferings.”
Life on this road is full of ups and downs – ascents and descents, mountain tops and valleys. I have known the elation of seeing God perform miracles before my own eyes. In the past year or so I have also known what it is like to be misunderstood, misrepresented, rejected and even had false accusations levelled at me. I have not always handled these well. Mostly I have not handled them at all (other than to ruminate and drive my husband to distraction with rehearsed re-enactments). I’ve been withdrawing and becoming emotionally and spiritually numb. (Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between shunning negativity and outright denial.)
Last night I began to realize that Christ was allowing me to share his experience in a tiny homeopathic-size dose. He knows what it is like to be misunderstood, misrepresented, rejected, hated, and lied about. I wanted to experience the ascension to a new spiritual height after a wilderness experience, like others talked about, but all I felt was pain. The pain of not fitting in anywhere. My pain. His pain.
And I thanked him.
Afterward a kind man and two women who love the Lord and understand this journey prayed for me. They told me what the Lord was showing them. Amongst other things (precious and private) they mentioned they saw me as one who was meant to live at altitude, like a bird living above earth-bound entanglements in the presence of my Creator, but that striving will not get me there. I thought of the scripture, “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.”
Prophetic words are usually a confirmation of what the Lord has been saying to our hearts all along, but words we have forgotten or ignored or dismissed as something meant for someone better than ourselves.
I didn’t tell them about having dreams of being a song bird that flew to the top of trees where the growling predators couldn’t reach, or of the very dramatic vision of a bird with bright red feet. When I asked what that was about I was told it was a “red-footed booby.” I had to look it up. It’s a sea bird that spends years at a time in the sky, riding on thermals, living on fish and touching land only to raise its young. I remembered encountering these things when I was trying to understand my identity in Christ and asking God how he saw me.
Today I came across the lyrics of Mariah Carey’s “Fly like a Bird.” I heard the Holy Spirit repeat the message in some of the phrases:
Weeping may endure for a night
But joy comes in the morning
Somehow I know that
There’s a place up above
With no more hurt and struggling
Free of all atrocities and suffering
Because I feel the unconditional love
From one who cares enough for me
To erase all my burdens
And let me be free to
Fly like a bird
Take to the sky
I need you now Lord
Carry me high
Don’t let the world break me tonight
I need the strength of you by my side
Sometimes this life can be so cold
I pray you’ll come and carry me home…
Keep your head to the sky
With God’s love you’ll survive…
Carry me higher, higher, higher
Carry me higher, higher, higher
Carry me home
Carry me higher Lord
I don’t know how long the descending bit of the road is, but I know Joy comes in the morning. I trust him.
I also know I am not the only one in this place. If this is also you, keep your head to the sky…