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Recently the Lord taught me something about His grace in a rather extrodinary way. It occurred while I was driving home from a 3 day trip to Passadena to to attend renewal meetings at Mott Auditorium. The Lord used a three part dream/vision from Rick Joyner titled "The Hoards of Hell are Marching" as a catalyst in this, so I need to give a brief background on that article for those of you who might not be familiar with it:
I had read part 1 of Rick Joyner's dream/vision "The Hoards of Hell are Marching" a very long time ago. It talked about the end-time army and the strategies that Satan used against it and the strategies God used to prepare us for the battle. It was told in first person narative story format, sort of like John presented his vision in the book of Revelation.
I was quite impressed with it and looked forward to reading the rest. As it turns out, I given a copy of part 2 just after it came out and got a copy of part 3 in November. For some reason, the Lord would NOT let me read them when I got them. Each time I'd desire to read them, He'd say "Not yet."
Then at the very end of December, He allowed me read both parts 2 and 3 one afternoon while I was in Passadena to visit Mott. Part two was a vison of Jesus and of heaven and a teaching on what it means to be in the Lord's end-time army. Part 3 was on the Judgement seat of Christ and how He holds Christians accountable for sin and disobedience in our lives and how we are to "judge ourselves" so that well we not be judged. In fact, the article points out that it is even better to invite Jesus to judge us than to judge ourselves.
As I read them, the Lord really spoke to me alot through them and impacted me greatly. I was moved to ask Jesus to come judge me now (while there was still room to correct). I knew it would be a humbling experience for me, because there are still alot of areas in my life that are not perfect before Him. But I knew it would also be an encouraging time because He has given me a very strong sense of His love even in such a judgement -- that He loves me enough to take the time/energy to deal with things now so that I won't be "caught short" on these issues on the day when I stand before His judgement throne. He is a very righteous Judge, but He is also a very merciful one. (By the way, I got a sense that this was a process He would take me through, not a one-time event. But I got a sense that the most intense portion of that process would start that day and go through most of January.)
An interesting thing happened to me on my drive home from Mott. When I was driving home, I got caught in a terrible traffic jam on Interstate 5 near the Grapevine. (They closed the road for a while because of dense fog and resulting car accidents. We were tied up for hours, crawling along at about 3-5 MPH. I think it would have been less frustrating if we stopped moving all together and just parked. It is stressful crawing along for hours with other drivers getting aggidated and doing weird things). The drive home takes over 6 hours when there are not any delays. Now it would convert into at least a 9 hour drive home. When I finally got past the trouble spot, I was feeling very frustrated and wanted to get home as soon as possible.
So I started speeding. The speed limit is 65 MPH. I went 75-80 for a while. Nothing bad seemed to happen and I was able to keep total control of my car (I drive a madza RX7, by the way, which is a high performance car). Well, that went well and I was still in a hurry. Then I found myself going 90 MPH. At first it was a bit scary to drive so fast. But cars ahead of me on this 2 lane highway would see me coming and move to the right to let me pass. Then it became exelerating. I ended up going slightly over 100 MPH for along time -- maybe an hour or so. I felt like I doing a good job of making up the time that I had lost (almost 3 hours) in the traffic jam and road closure. I was starting to feel better about the drive home.
But a verse was churing in the back of my mind: "Obey the laws of the land and so honor God." (Actually, I was thinking of Heb 13:17, but I remembered it slightly wrong.) I had a sense that God was displeased with my driving behavior, even though He seemed to be protecting me in it. I felt like I was supposed to slow down to honor Him, but I sort of put those thoughts out of the back of my mind.
Then the Lord reminded me of a time that I had greieved the Holy Spirit and how He had let me sense His grief. I remembered how terrible it had been to have a sense of His grief and to KNOW that I was the one who had caused it. I remembered praying that He would help me to repent and obey next time before I got to the stage of grieving Him.
I did not want to greive the Holy Spirit, but I did REALLY did not want to slow down and loose time either. But this kept churning over in my mind. So, I finaly I asked the Lord if I was grieving Him with this behavior. His answer was, "You are clearly disobeying Me. Do you want to take the chance that you might be grieving Me?" I felt something that pierced to my very core. Of course I did not want to take a chance of grieving Him. I did not want to intentionally disobey Him either. I loved Him with all of my heart.
So I immediately pulled over to the right lane and set my cruise control at the speed limit: 65 MPH. All those cars who'd moved out of my way began passing me, some of them giving me strange looks. I knew they must be wondering at my driving -- to speed so flagrently in a sports car and then to suddelnly pull over and go the speed limit. But I became so busy repenting before the Lord that I was not concerned about how flaky the other drivers might think I was.
I remembered that I had just prayed the day before and invited Jesus to judge me, as recommended in Rick Joyner's article. I had been very impressed with what he had said in that article about us needing to know God's severity as well as His mercy. God's severity was on the forefront of my thinking as I pondered this in the light of the rebellion I'd just done with my driving.
I figured I was really in trouble now. Part of me sorta wanted to "run away" but where could I go from His presense? So I went directly to Him very sorry and fully expecting to be disciplined or punished.
What He did next really surprised me. He said, "OK, it is under the blood of Jesus. You are forgiven. There will not be any consequences or punishment, but go and sin no more. Now enter into My fellowship and be refreshed."
"But Lord, " I said, feeling confused and not sure if I'd heard right, "what about Your severity? That article said You wanted us to to know and understand Your severity as well as Your mercy."
"Yes, Teresa." He replied. "And you already understand something of my severity. You know about accountability -- about how you are under increased responsibility to obey Me as I give you increased authority. Now I want to teach you about My mercy and grace -- and I want to teach this to you experiencially, so that it is engraved deep within your spirit. Now receive my grace for you."
His grace and mercy washed over me. He was such an incredible awesome God! I was filled with a sense of how much I deserved to be punished and how good He was to fill me with His grace instead. Something in my heart became "more alive" as I experienced His grace on me. I found myself responding to Him the only way I knew how -- recommitting myself totally and unreservedly to Him and inviting His lordship into every area of my life. I was keenly aware of the cruise control set percisely at the speed limit. That meant it would take a lot longer to complete the drive home. But I became so lost in His goodness that it did not matter to me that I would get home so late. In fact, I ended up having an incredible worship time as I drove home. That drive home became a place of worhship and communion with Him. His Spirit fell on me every bit as intensely as during ministry time at a renewal meeting.
I had a sense of what the lady caught in adultry must have felt when Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more."
He is SO good! His grace is SO real! How could we possibly respond to Him any other way that to invite His lordship into every area of our lives?
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