It had been an extremely rough summer. If there were a way to stretch me or mold me, God found it and did it!! Finally, it was cool to see that autumn had brought some welcome changes within me. Daddy is just SO faithful… He does such wonderful work, and it’s much easier to accept when I choose to welcome His “chiseling” and “molding.” I had been growing utterly dependent upon Him to provide my basic needs, and He continued to be more than faithful to do so. Eventually, I could recognize that I was growing stronger in the area of depending on Him to be sufficient for all things. What a hard thing to learn and what a mass of things to have to let go of in my mind in order to embrace such a notion.
Enjoy these ramblings of something that He did to brand into my soul just how interested He is in my knowing, beyond any hint of doubt, that He is continually working for my good, working to make me just like Jesus. . .
On Saturday night, 10/3/98, I went with a couple of friends northward to Berne, IN. We went for a $5.00 Kathy Troccoli (KT) concert that was being hosted by the home church of one of those friends on the trip. Of course, we were bugging him on the way up about whether or not he’d arranged for us to meet Kathy… That night with KT turned out to be phenomenal for me!! Daddy did something that could only be from His hand…. one small, yet huge, act for which only He could orchestrate the sequence of details to be just right.
During the concert a few house lights had been left on and couldn’t be turned off, even though Kathy asked a couple of times. So, that meant she could see practically everyone… and she was “harassing” some folks in the audience all night or coming down to walk among us and standing on a chair to sing, just being a part of us.
In the middle of the concert or so, she did a few songs from her new cd called Corner of Eden. One’s called “Take Me With You”…. asking Jesus to take me with Him wherever that may be. I listened for the words while she sang and “quietly” signed it to myself, “speaking” the words to Him with my hands (sign language)–something I often do in worship or just to more deeply enjoy or ingrain a song. The next one was “A Different Road,” about recognizing the past and firmly determining to walk a different road with Him, for things to be different from this day forward. Again, my heart said, “Oh yes! That’s me too” and I signed with it as well.
Toward the end of the concert, Kathy said, “I want to do one more song for you all” as she walked toward the stairs for the stage and came down to our left. As she walked along, she said, “I’ve been watching this girl all night…” She got to our row, looked over at me, and, pointing toward me, said, “You sign, don’t you? …like on `Take Me with You’ ” I nodded and she asked, “Would you come do this last song with me?” I went out to meet her in the aisle. She took my hand as we walked toward the stage. She paused in her talking to everyone to ask “Do you sign much?” I said (into the mike held toward me) “when I worship.” She continued to speak to the audience, leading up to the song.
As we climbed the stairs behind the speakers, she was continuing to describe the song to everyone … and she then said the title: “My Life Is In Your Hands”…. I just “looked” at God and said, “YOU want me to say this, don’t YOU? You want me to believe this! (And boy! do You EVER want me to say it in a big way!)” And He knows that when I sign a song, it’s not a performance with my hands; but that a song signed comes from all of me, my entire person expresses the song along with my hands, face, and such… and He knows that for me to do that, I have to believe what I’m signing! He knew…
She asked my name (that was fun). “Kathi,” I said. She had that look on her face that went with “cool name,” since it was hers too and she chuckled a bit. She held to my hand behind her back as she continued to introduce the song. I don’t remember her words. If I’d listened, I’d probably been a crying basket case. Then she said, “You stand there, front and center” and she stepped to the side to sing, saying “I’ll feed you the words.” At that, I thought, “Hey, there’s NO need to do that for this one!” I knew God had THAT under control. (I was familiar with the song, although the copies of her CDs with that on it I’d given away twice. So, I hadn’t heard the song for a while, except on the radio. But I was confident that if He’d gotten me up there, He’d move my hands as they needed to go.)
We did the song together. Usually when I’m doing something in front of people like singing, signing, or speaking and I can tell it’s really, really ordained by Him, my mouth goes bone dry and my leg shakes. This time the mouth did its thing, but my hands were what shook. Yet He carried me through the song, helping me to believe, know, feel and mean each concept signed.
There was an interlude near the end in which Kathy stepped over beside me, gave me a side hug, and then stood beside me to do the chorus again. As we did, I thought I could see some movement out there (later one of my friends confirmed it)—the people were standing to their feet… (Go, God!) We finished. She hugged me hugely and I said in her ear, “Thank you SO much.” She did that motion toward me for the audience saying “Kathi…” and I don’t remember hearing the hands clapping. All I could honestly hear was my Father’s confirmation to me that indeed, my life IS in HIS hands!
I left the stage in a bewildered awe and went back to our row… where my friend greeted me with, “Was that not the biggest answer to what you’ve been seeking?!” As she hugged me tears flowed. I’m still in awe when I think of that night or testify to what HE did!
It was also wonderful, later, after a long-line wait to get to chat with Kathy and share briefly the impact of that invitation and the encouragement her ministry has had on my life since her early days in ’82-83. In fact, she’d shared that she accepted Christ in ’78, and that was the year that I became His too. Over the course of those past two decades, it’s been kind of cool that one of the sources He’s used to bolster and enhance my faith has been Kathy’s music…. wow! just, wow!
Our Daddy loves me so much! And I know that He is at work to take care of me through any and all rough days. HE is the strength of my heart (Ps 73) and I wouldn’t want it any other way. He’s becoming the One that I think of most often. I said “becoming” because I still struggle with other pursuits, probably my “thorn” that will keep me humble until I get to go “home free” and be with Him.
Somewhere along the way, I read Max Lucado’s book Just Like Jesus. Oh! it’s SO good!!! When we accept Jesus, we get His heart not just His name (Gal 2:20). He’s made your heart and my heart His home. Max writes, “He has moved in and unpacked His bags and is ready to change you ‘into His likeness from one degree of glory to another’ (2 Cor 3:18 RSV). Paul explains it with these words: `Strange as it seems, we Christians actually do have within us a portion of the very thoughts and mind of Christ’ (1 Cor 2:16 TLB).”
Of course, His heart may be in us, but we still have all our hang-ups and we still think so much like us. That’s what the rest of the book is about… looking at how God sets about to shape our hearts to be like His. He loves us just the way we are, but He refuses to let us stay that way. It’s like a dad getting some yummy ice cream for his little girl, only to find when he gets to her that she’s playing in the yard and has dirt in her mouth. He doesn’t leave her that way; he cleans her up, has her spit out her choice of snack and then gives her the yummy stuff.
Our Daddy’s plan is “nothing short of total transformation: He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love Him along the same lines as the life of His Son.” (Rom 8:29 MSG) “You have begun to live the new life, in which you are being made new and are becoming like the One who made you. This new life brings you the true knowledge of God” (Col 3:10 MSG).
He’s been giving me tastes of a life consumed by Him… the reality of Him, not some human make-shift image or costume. I desire my heart to reflect His. He promises that when we delight in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart (Ps 37:4), most often by making His desires our own. He shapes ours into a forgiving heart, a compassionate heart, a listening heart, a God-intoxicated heart, a worship-hungry heart, a focused heart, an honest heart, a pure heart, a hope-filled heart, a rejoicing heart, and an enduring heart… as our Daddy makes us more like Him!