Hold Hope. Host Heaven. Heal Hearts

The Ask

I pray that you would have experience after experience this week of not only knowing God loves you but feeling it deep in your heart and with every cell of your being.

So ended the prayer that a pastor I just met prayed over me on a cold Sunday morning in February. I was visiting a friend’s church in Chicago, or at least that’s what I thought I was doing, but God had different plans. Looking back I realize he brought me to this specific place for a very specific reason. This was the place and time he would answer my ask.

The pastor who prayed for me discerned the cry of my heart. I desperately wanted more for my life and relationship with God but didn’t know how to have it. I couldn’t even articulate what I really wanted. I just knew something was missing. For months, I had tried to name what felt like a dull ache, the kind of heartache that doesn’t terribly affect your life on the surface, but deep inside, you know something is missing. More specifically, it felt like something was missing in my relationship with God. I felt the need to fix it, but whatever it was eluded me. In fact, it eluded me for a whole year. The more time passed, and the more I tried to fix the ache, the more disillusionment I felt. I wondered, Maybe, if I pray more, read my Bible more, or spend more time at church, I’ll snap out of this and feel better. But despite all my efforts, I continued to feel the dull ache of disillusionment. My heart was hungry for more and my head thought it was responsible to provide all the spiritual nourishment so I kept doing more instead of letting God do more for me. 

I have More for You

I had been trying to meet a spiritual desire that only God can meet. It’s the kind of desire which is unintelligible to the mind because it is not conceived by the mind. This desire had been gestating in my heart and spirit. This kind of desire is so big and other worldly we think we are a little crazy to believe it’s even possible. 

God had been using that year of disillusionment to bring me to a place in my inner most being to be ready to receive what I now affectionately call the more. He wanted me to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he would be the one to provide all I was seeking.

I left my friend’s church that day overwhelmed by God’s answer to my ask—“I have more for you.” The pastor had experienced what I was looking for, and because of this, he was able to use his faith to not only pray I have a new experience, but experience after experience. The apostle Paul prayed a more prayer for the members of the church at Ephesus:

So I kneel humbly in awe before the father and child in heaven and on earth. And I pray that he would unveil within you the unlimited riches of his glory and favor until supernatural strength floods your innermost being with his divine might and explosive power (3:14-16). 

He unveils it in us and then its flow carries us. In God’s economy there is always more. He loves us that much and he is that good. 

There is something so exciting about the word unveil in this verse. It implies an amazing truth. The riches of God’s glory and favor are not only unlimited (the more), but they have been right beneath your nose the whole time. Before any unveiling their exists a preparatory or waiting phase. In this preparation phase there is no movement forward. Instead, a kind of potential energy is brewing. In physics, potential energy is defined as the energy possessed by a body by virtue of its position relative to others, stresses within itself, electric charge, and other factors. Since by nature we are citizens of heaven, existing in the world but not of it, we experience an inner stress relative to our position and relation to God. I believe this stress is reflective of a deeper knowing inside us all—the kingdom of God is in our midst! It is during these times of preparation that we eagerly await the unveiling and are fueled by a deeper spiritual awareness—we are created for more. And for those who are passionate, we experience this inner stress paradoxically and most especially when all is well (i.e status quo) recognizing we live in a heavenly kingdom that is forcefully advancing (Matthew 11:12 ESV). Like an arrow drawn in its bow by a marksman, when God brings us backwards its to allow his power to propel us forwards and further than we’ve ever gone before. It takes us further than we could ever go without him. It’s the “and then suddenly” moment where all the work he is dong deep in us finds its expression in a new and even more purpose filled way. In the twinkle of an eye everything changes as we move out of the season of potential energy and experience the kingdom’s kinetic energy.

Sir Isaac Newton observed, for every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction. He unveils it in us until his supernatural strength floods us and its flow carries us. This unveiling is not for the faint of heart. It requires passion and a supernatural strength to be able to take hold of its power.  Jesus described John the Baptist as one of the passionate ones in Matthew 11. Jesus said, the realm of heaven’s kingdom is bursting forth, and passionate people have taken hold of its power (32). Passionate people hitch a ride on the kinetic power of God’s kingdom which is forcefully advancing.

Hunting for Hope in God's Promises

Easter time is filled with fun memories from my childhood – sunrise service, pretty dresses worn with lace-rimmed socks and patent leather shoes, baskets lovingly prepared and waiting for us in the living room on Easter morning, big family gatherings and of course, the infamous city-wide Easter egg hunt.

I really loved the egg hunt. It was always held at the sprawling lawn in the center of town. Every inch of grass was filled with candy and as a little person it seemed to stretch on for miles. Dozens of children would restlessly gather behind a chalk line, then at the sound of the horn, race towards the lawn.

The funny thing was, in all the years we as children attended the Easter egg hunts, I never came home with a single piece of candy. Why you ask? Well, hidden somewhere on that sprawling lawn was a single golden egg and whoever found that egg was promised a grand prize. For whatever reason, I always chose to go after the golden egg even though I came home every year empty-handed (and then would try to scrounge some candy from my little brother whose pockets and basket were always bursting at the seams).

The hope of something greater was what I was after. I was after the one thing. I was after the prize. Philippians 3:13 says this:

I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

This Scripture reminds us that no matter what struggle we may or may not be facing in the present moment, we can keep our focus on the “one thing” and the assurance of His heavenly promises to us.

Two thousand years ago our Creator, out of love, sent His son to bear the burdens of this life that no human could possibly bear. He loved us so much that He sent Jesus to die so that we might live. Why would Jesus want to come to this earth to die, you might ask? The answer is simple. He came to die for the one thing. He came to die for the prize and you are that prize.

Easter is about new life. It is about believing in the impossible and seeing the impossible happen. It’s about bearing the grief of Good Friday because Sunday is coming.

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.
— John 11:25–26

Roadtrip: Destination Destiny

Highways. I love them. I love the freedom to drive in the direction of my destination without traffic lights, stop signs, or detours. They are by far the quickest most efficient way to get where you want to go.  There is only one problem.  They can be long. Depending on the destination, highways can be long and uninteresting.  

God, are we there yet?

A few years ago I was yearning for insight regarding a particular area of my life.  I wanted to know. Is there a divine destination in all of this? Did I miss the exit? And if not, why does it seem like there is no end in sight? Like many of us get, I was inpatient, tired and frustrated. I just wanted to know. God, are we there yet?

God gave me the metaphor of a highway that day and I will never forget what He said to me --  Destiny is like a highway. Stay on that highway if you want to get to your purposed destination.  Exits are always an option. However, you can spend days, months, or even years at an inviting exit only to realize detours are costly.

Grace provides the strength needed to continue on the path no matter how long and discouraging it may appear.  Not only that, grace provides everything we need for the journey. Everything. Thereby making exits on the highway of destiny obsolete.  

We can spend days, months, or even years at an exit only to realize detours are costly.

So I have choices. I can impatiently and incessantly question in my heart the path God has chosen and settle for an exit along the way. Or, I can sit back and enjoy it with all of its twists and turns, surprises, and grace. 

Grace be with you all.

Hebrews 13:25


Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert...
— Isaiah 43:19

Photos by Sam Graves.