God is so GOOD!!! That is how I will start this blog and that is how I will end it because that is the overall message I received after I had coffee (and breakfast) with my sweet friend Denise Lee last Saturday morning.
Here is what you need to know about Denise Lee. She loves the Lord. I mean stank face loves Him. Actually THAT doesn’t even describe her love toward the Father. She is completely engrossed in Him and it pours out of her.
I know Denise from working at Stonegate Christian Academy in Irving and mutual friends. She has ministered to the students at Stonegate for years by teaching at chapel and exhorting them in their senior year at their Senior Presbytery. Denise is a part of the prayer team at Gateway Church where she has ministered to me in a very personal way, and recently she has accepted an administrative position for the European Initiative. However, one of the most important things that she has done for the kingdom is her one on one ministry to her three beautiful daughters, who LOVE the Lord. They aren’t just good kids…they are good because they LOVE the Lord.
This interview wrecked me in such a good way. I am delayed posting it in a time that I wanted to (also do to some technical difficulties) because I want to just marinate in it and let it WRECK ME!!! This amazing woman’s love for the Lord and her revelation of HIS love for her and all of us is life changing. I feel so honored to have sat and gleaned wisdom from Denise, and I wanted to honor the wisdom that I gleaned by actually meditating on it and letting it change me.
Denise will be getting a call/text from me on a regular basis because I want and need to glean more. She has much wisdom to give and I want it!!! God is so good and His goodness pours out of Denise Lee. My prayer is that it pours out on you as you read this post. His goodness brings us to repentance; it did for me after I had coffee with her, and I hope it brings you there too.
Me: How do you take your coffee?
Denise: I generally take it with cream and sugar.
Me: Just cream and sugar.
Denise: Just cream and sugar. Very old school.
Me: That’s me too.
Denise: I didn’t start drinking coffee until Brad and I got married.
Me: Me too!!! Okay, if you could have coffee with anyone dead or alive who would it be? But you have to choose just one.
Denise: Just one? You know, everybody always chooses C.S. Lewis and I would love that…
Me: Would you be intimidated? Because I would be intimidated…
Denise: Yeah…um…probably. Probably. I would just want to talk about Narnia all day I think…’cause I’m counting on that being a real place. (chuckles) But you know I think I would love to talk to somebody like a Corrie Ten Boom who really put everything on the line for others. Those kinds of people are just so amazing to me, that they are really willing to count the cost. If I ever found myself in that kind of a situation, I want to be one of those. I don’t want to just be a bystander that’s going along and doing their thing everyday oblivious to what’s going on around them, but I want to be one of those who says…there’s some evil going on and I have a part to play in fighting it. Willing to risk it all.
Me: So do you consider yourself a warrior at times?
Denise: I really want to be. I think there’s a part of me that actually is, that’s why the desire is there. But I always think there’s a part of me that goes…can I really do that God? Would you let me do it? You know? I may be weird but I really love reading Fox’s book of Martyrs ’cause there’s something about people who are just willing to go…”I’ve got such a vision for eternity…do whatever you want to me.” It’s when my kids get involved that I have to really have to kind of ratch it back and kinda go…would I be willing to allow THAT to happen to them? You know? If I could choose I don’t want to have to suffer but if it came down to it I really want to be one those who goes…yeah I’ll suffer for You.
Me: Yeah that whole mother card is…
Denise: It’s a fear I need to lay down. For a long time I was afraid to pray, “God do whatever you have to do in my heart to cause me to follow you.” ‘Cause I just KNEW that the minute I prayed that prayer He was going to take one of my kids from me. So I wouldn’t pray it. I wouldn’t pray it. God you love my kids more than I do, and you are a good God. I know that’s a fear, so I’m just going to trust You. Yeah…the mom card is big.
Me: Yeah. It’s big. I’m really feeling that. You feel invincible before kids.
Denise: Yeah, if it happens to me…whatever. But you read stories about martyrs and their persecutors turning the tables onto the kids saying deny Jesus or we’ll take your kids. Well, they didn’t sign up for that. You know? But I remember reading a story about a father and a son and the son was like ten years old and they were in a situation like that, and the father was just struggling. He was so struggling. His son just looked at him and was crying and he said, “Daddy I could never ever go on living if I knew that you denied Jesus. Please, please, don’t do it.” And so he didn’t and they killed his son. But knowing that that kid would have walked in shame for the rest of his life knowing that…my dad’s God wasn’t worth everything. So I was like…okay…He’s worth it. And the legacy that we leave our kids matters. Whatever the cost. So that whole idea of legacy is huge for me. It’s huge. I want my kids to look back and go…she laid it all on the line and because of it I have a really great inheritance.
Me: So that’s what you want your legacy to be?
Denise: Yeah!! Yeah, not being afraid to just live fully. He lived fully for me and died so… (begins tearing up)
Me: You hear of those stories going on right now. Those exact stories…every single day…like in the middle east. Kid saying, “Please daddy don’t renounce.” Begging them.
Denise: Their desire is sometimes…and their vision…and their childlike faith…the reality is, we are going to be with Jesus. We will be with Jesus. But we still have such a narrow view of eternity. I remember listening to a message by…um…Francis Chan. He had a string just wrapped around the sanctuary, this long, long string and the end of it was on the stage, and this much of it was red (gestures to show me about an inch) at the very end. He said that even though this string is not infinite it represents eternity and this little red bit of it at the end represents your life here on earth. In the grand scheme of things your life here on earth is so small but the way that you live it impacts what you see…(referring to the white part of the string)…your eternity. Just having that perspective of…yeah…this is temporal but it matters. It really matters. So that’s something that really just…resonated with me. I have to gaurd myself against fear. We don’t have time!! We don’t have time to mess around!!! We don’t have time for fun!!…you know…(chuckles)
Me: I GET LIKE THAT TOO!!! I’m kind of a downer sometimes. Some people are like…JUST HAVE FUN.
Denise: (humorously) Jesus is coming back there is no time for fun. I just need to calm down. (chuckles)
Me: Yes…I am so like that. Better calm down warrior.
Denise: Yes, have a glass of wine or something…relax.
Me: Yeah…calm down. But we were talking about eternity…how have you met…Actually, I would say that I recently have had my first experience of just seeing the Heavenlies…just in the past month. For the first time in my life I feel like I miss home. I miss Heaven. What is your experience with the eternal here on earth?
Denise: Wow…that’s a loaded question.
Me: I’m sorry.
Denise: Well, when you said that as far as missing home…yeah…and going back to that whole idea of Narnia. There is just this longing, that longing for eternity. I don’t belong here. You know? I know that I’m here for a season, and I want to…I don’t have a death wish by any means but there is just something in me when I just look at everybody…even in this environment. They are going through the motions…it really hurts my heart because I know that there is SO much more that we are missing out on. You know…Jessica got married. And they had the wedding in Fort Worth and during the ceremony Jessica and John wanted to wash each other’s feet. That was the first thing that they wanted to do as husband and wife. Olen pronounced them husband and wife, they didn’t kiss…yet. They wanted to wash each other’s feet. So you know we had family and weddings bring such random groupings of people together for a day. We just wanted the wedding to honor the Lord and so it was beautiful when they washed each other’s feet while they were doing that Olen was explaining what they were doing. He painted the picture beautifully on how they were serving each other and setting the tone for their marriage and laying themselves down and walking in humility. So after the wedding talking to the ladies who ran the house and watched the ceremony from the back and they said, “That was just so beautiful”. It really made an impact on them. The photographer was telling them, “Thank you so much for letting me photograph this wedding. And I don’t know how many good pictures I got of the foot washing because I was just crying and crying.” I don’t know if he knows the Lord …I don’t know. He’s a really nice guy but it made an impact. And there were people like that that were coming and saying what an impact it made on them, and… It’s our thing right? It’s our circle that we walk in…of course, why wouldn’t we want to do something like that? It makes sense. We are believers we want to serve each other. It is just SO FOREIGN to what the world knows and to what the church even knows….as far as to surrender life to the Lord. God’s not just this free ticket to Heaven but there is just so much more…and…um…I’m not sure how much that has to do with the eternal but the longing that there is so much more….you know….than just, well I’m not going to Hell…there is more than what they realize. That would be my longing and desire. That people would just know they are here for something. So much more than what they could have ever imagined. I’m not sure if that answers the question.
Me: Oh you got it, but it gives me another question. What do you think the Lord has purposed for you to do here on this earth? What is your particular part to play?
Denise: Well, It’s interesting. He is putting me in a position to empower the evangelists. I know that I have the gift of exhortation. My favorite thing to do is to breathe courage into someone and say, “You can do this. You can do this. Yeah it’s hard. It’s not as hard as you think. You know? Because you’ve got a big God and you can do this.” I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it in my kids lives. It’s more than being a cheerleader and saying, “Oh, you’re the greatest.” But with a real sense of reality saying this is the truth of what’s going on right now but okay let’s come in and bring God’s perspective into it. Let’s look at it the way He’s looking at it. Let’s not look at the situation with our earthly eyes but lets get God’s perspective on this. Let’s walk in the truth of what He says and not base that on our fear, our woundings, our emotions or whatever. But let’s really walk in the light of the truth. A few years ago we were in a small group and it was at the end of the year…and somebody said…I think it was at the Smith’s…I think Anthony said, “I want everyone to go home this week and to just pray and ask the Lord what He wants you to do in the coming year.” Okay. So, I did, and it was really clear for me. The Lord was just like, “Ask questions. Ask me. Ask me.” Okay. Alright. He wants me to ask Him questions. And I started to and it UNLOCKED something inside of me that has…I mean…it was…still to this DAY it hasn’t stopped. I was never a question asker. I was always the one in school who if I didn’t understand something I’m not going to ask…I’ll just figure it out. So, I started asking and it went through every area of my life. I don’t know about that. What is that? It was a curiousity in the spirit too. Okay Lord…what are you saying here? Wanting to find out what His heart was on EVERYTHING. So that really impacted me. It really has become a part of who I am. Really wanting to know God’s heart about everything. That’s where I see myself. Just being able to walk along side who ever is in my life at the time and just…’cause you know when we are walking through things…sometimes it’s hard because all you can see is just right in front of your face…and just to be able to be someone who takes a step back and say you know…let’s look at this from God’s perspective. Let’s see what He may be wanting to accomplish in it. Just to be able to say that God has a plan in all this breathes such hope. So, to just come along people and say…there’s a purpose in this. I’m not saying God did it but that there is a purpose in it. It blows my mind how He orchestrates our lives and looking back and saying I never could have done that. I could have never done that. And I never would have because there was pain involved in it and I don’t really care for pain and discomfort…but it wouldn’t have been as beautiful of a story.
Me: What right now in this season are you asking the Lord?
Denise: Well there’s a couple of things. I’ve always asked the Lord…one of my biggest desires is just to ask the Lord to please make me faithful. I just want to be faithful. And that’s been a struggle. But I want to be faithful. And I…Lord I really want to know you. Know YOU deeply. I want you to show me who You are. I don’t want to just…I’m not satisfied with the surface. Yeah, I know God and at the core God is good…what does that look like? What does that look like in everyday life? What does that look like in the way I view the world? What does that look like when I read the news? Or when I just want to hear what’s going on in the world right now? You’re good. I don’t want my heart to grow cold. And if I can always see His goodness at work my heart won’t grow cold. I’m sure of that. So I don’t ever want to lose site of His goodness. I don’t want my kids to lose site of His goodness. And the other something that I’m asking, probably because of the season I am in right now…I’m a mother-in-law now which is sooooo weird to think about. I’m a mother-in-law. When Jessica and John got engaged I started going…okay what kind of mother-in-law do I want to be? I don’t want to just waltz into this and be like, oh my daughter got married. What does that look like? ‘Cause my role is changing. How does that transition? So, I’m asking questions like that. My roles are shifting. So, not getting stagnant and kind of going along and finding myself at seventy years old and kind of going…I never changed and never adapted in the season I was in. How do I steward the season that I am in?
Me: This will be my last question, and we have been talking about Him this whole time but…can you just tell me about your Savior?
Denise: (almost a minute passes by before she can answer through her tears)….You know…Megan…there are times when I think…Lord…I want to love the way you love. And then I think about it and I think….can I even handle that? Can I even handle loving the way that He loves…what would be to my world and my life? I don’t even know if I could function in the day to day capacity, if I really understood the way He loves. (Begins crying again) But that’s what overwhelms me so much…I’m so imperfect…and you know that hymn…prone to wonder Lord I feel it prone to leave the one I love. Oh God…how can I be able to love you so much but then be able to get so distracted so easily? Yet, He is never distracted from me…I am just blown away by His loving kindness. I think about it a lot in times of worship. There is just something that is in me that just wants to bow before Him as King. When we went to England…there is something about the monarchy that I love so much…(laughter breaks forth).
Me: Maybe they will read this and you can meet them.
Denise: Yes, maybe they will read this and I can meet them. There is just something…the idea of a KING. Those moments I am so impacted by who He is. But then the loving kindness He has as my Savior and my Bridegroom. It’s overwhelming. It’s hard to encapsulate. His loving kindness just blows me away. Everyday. That no matter if I have it all together and I’m firing on all pistons or I’m a mess…His heart is for me. He’s captivated by me. I don’t understand that, but I sure love it. I always remember listening to something at a women’s conference and it was at a time when my kids were younger. And she said, God’s just looking for small yeses. You guys are moms you have little kids an some days you are just crawling under the kitchen table cleaning up cheerios.
Me: Or not..
Denise: Or not. Or you are stepping on them. But you just stop and stay…God I just love you so much…and it resounds in Heaven. He stops what He is doing and spins in delight that in the moment of your chaos you stopped and offered Him a small yes. That’s the kind of God that I serve…that He knows me in every season of my life. He knows what I am capable of…and He loves me in the middle of it. And He also empowers me in the middle of it too. I struggled for a long time thinking that He was always going…”I’m just so disappointed. You SO have not lived up to your potential.” …Every once and a while that message tries to take a little spot in my head but not really any more…I won’t let it because that’s not who He is and I am so glad that that is not who He is. He’s good. He’s really really good.
Practically, I have gleaned to say little yeses in the middle of my chaos. The baby spits up…thank you Lord I love you. Toddler throws a fit….thank you Lord I love you…what is your heart on this. A solicitor comes to the door in the middle of nap time for the household, rings the doorbell, which sends the dog into a tail spin and barks everyone awake…then after I say I don’t have time and that the babies are asleep…no…wait they are awake now…and He STILL WANTS TO SELL ME SOMETHING……..um….yes….Thank you Lord. I love you.
My perception of eternity was widened and the impact of how I live down here right now was deepened. I have always tried to walk with an intention that there IS SO MUCH MORE, but my vision of eternity wasn’t that grand. We are created to be eternal beings. Either we will spend it with the Lord basking in His presence and love worshiping Him, or we will not. The NOT is burning in the presence of the enemy…graphic but true. I don’t want to dwell on the now because that is not the focus and I don’t want anyone to draw close to the Lord based on fear. It is just that image of the little tip of red string at the end of a figuratively eternal white string. The smallest part is so important. We are only here for what seems like a breath in the Heavenlies, and that’s why we feel so out of place on this Earth longing for the eternal. Live it for the Lord for He is so so so GOOD.
That brings me to the gleaning that has wrecked me most of all…God’s goodness. I can’t think or talk about God’s goodness without tearing up like Denise. He laid it all on the line for me. Everything! His life, so that I…ME…Megan Adams…a sinner…can live…truly LIVE. Here is what I am tearing up about even right now. In this life that He has given me, am I willing to lay it all on the line for Him? Is He that big in my life? Am I willing…brave enough…actually do I trust Him enough to pray, “God, do whatever you have to do in my heart to cause me to follow You.”
You see I was reading in Romans this morning (right now this is my favorite…I change favorite books like a kid changes their favorite color…daily) and there was new life on chapters 5-8 after coffee with Denise. Specifically Roman 6:3-14.
3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
Am I willing to lay it all on the line for Him? Am I able to ask Him, Lord, do what you need to do in my heart so that I can follow You? Yes, at least for today. The answer is yes. I will have to daily crucify myself to this action… for Him…my love. He died for me and I want to daily die WITH Christ so that I may live WITH Christ. That means all my dreams (even the righteous ones…ministry…etc.), my children, my husband, and my heart. He WILL breathe more life into all of these things than I EVER could.
Lord, do what you need to do in my heart so that I can follow you. I ask for the honor of being used as an instrument of righteousness for you God. Get rid of everything in my heart that has not been crucified. I want to live WITH You, immersed in Your goodness. Holy Spirit, help me to be bold enough to pray this daily.