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Early in the morning I arose. There was something burning inside of me and I could not contain it. I got down on my knees and I began to pray. I began to worship the God that I serve. I began to call Him Holy and Wonderful. Tears streamed down my face in admiration. It was 2005 and I was in a hotel room in Ethiopia. I traveled to a country thinking that somehow I would minister and serve the people there, yet in reality they ministered so greatly to me.
When I was single, I was blessed to be able to go on many short term mission trips. My first one was when I went to the Dominican Republic. I didn’t even understand Spanish but I was forever changed by that trip. A desire was birthed inside of me to go the mission field. I have no idea who God will ever open those doors or if that was just a desire for that season of my life. I witnessed people who lived in poverty but who gave their all to God. Materially, they had nothing, but spiritually they were so blessed.
The following year I was able to go to Nicaragua. I saw homes made out of tin. Homes that were smaller than my living room but the people had such a hunger for God. And in Costa Rica we traveled to a village that was so isolated from everything. We had to walk through rivers, through mud and over a wobbly bridge, but we saw a people who desired God. I remember one morning getting up early and while many people were still sleeping, I went outside to pray. The faces of those people are cemented in my memory. Faces of young people and old people all desiring God.
And then Ethiopia and Uganda two poverty stricken nations. Yet in Ethiopia tens of thousands of people sat for hours on the dirt floor worshipping God. They walked miles to the church service all the while singing praises to God. Hands lifted up, tears streaming down their face, some burying their face in the floor as they worshipped and praised God…
After every mission trip I came back with such a hunger for God. I came back with such a desire to seek after God with all my heart. This evening while praying those memories came flooding back to me. Sometimes in worship on Sunday mornings, I can visualize and see scenes from my mission trips.
Life happens. Dinner needs to be made. A paycheck needs to be earned. Houses need to be cleaned. Yet that song “Take me back…” continues to play in my mind. “Lord help me remember what it was like to get up early in the morning and cry out to worship to you in a hotel room in Ethiopia. Lord, help me remember what it was like to stand in an open pasture with tears of admiration streaming down my face in Costa Rica. Lord, help me remember what it was like to stand in a humidity filled room in Dominican Republic worshipping you. Lord, help me remember what it was like to watch people give their life to you in baptism in the oceans of Nicaragua. Lord, help me remember what it was like…”
I don’t ever want to be so consumed with life that I don’t make God my priority. I don’t want to be so consumed with all the things that are taking place around me that I don’t make God my priority. I want God to be my priority. I want Him my first love. I want to be consumed with His presence during my daily devotions. I don’t want to care what others around me may think; I want to worship openly and freely.
Lord remind what it was like when I was 20 and in the Dominican Republic and so dedicated and devoted to you. Lord, remind me what it was like when I was 22 and in Costa Rica walking miles to a church service but praising you in my heart. Lord, remind me what it was like when I was 24 and so hungry for you in Ethiopia.
So Lord, I pray take me back to those days when I opened the church for prayer. Lord, take me back to those youth services when church was over but we were still crying out to you in hunger. Lord, take me back to those Sunday church services when all programs were put aside and we allowed you to move. Lord, take me back to those two hour commutes I used to make to graduate school just mediating on your goodness. Lord, take me back to those summers where I did not want them to end because I was able to totally dedicate myself to you. Lord, take me back.
I want to thirst after you as the deer does.
I want my heart to cry after you.
I want you to be daily bread.
I want to seek after you early in the morning.
I want to be content with you.
I want you to take me back.
I want to hear you call me in the morning. I want to hear you call my name. I want to feel your spirit speaking to me. I want to feel such a close intimacy with you. I want to feel your presence and your power daily.
So Lord, today I pray that you would take me back. And I pray that you would take me further. Take me further than I have ever gone in prayer. Take me further than I have gone in your presence. Take me further.
And as you take me further in you drown out everything that prevents me from hearing your voice. Drown out the pressures of the world. Drown out what everyone else is doing. Drown out everything so that I can hear from you.
Take me back.