March 7, 2014

Coming Out

       This week I had the honor of hanging out with an old friend who has the amazing capacity to bring pleasant, normal, conversation to a startling halt. He then proceeds to turn you around to kindly shake hands with your present self and come to terms with the fact that you're not perfect yet. I'm pretty sure everyone needs a friend like that; who forces your walls to turn to glass in order to make you more honest and real than you care to be.
      It was in the middle of one of those moments that I discovered I was completely TERRIFIED of being seen as "too spiritual" or religious. From my moment of true conversion, I hit the fast track. I cut off everything and everyone that would hinder me, jumped in with people who really burned for God, and ran with all my might. The Lord began to speak to me greatly through visions. I found myself literally unable to watch movies and television shows without breaking down into tears, knowing that what I was watching was exalting things Christ died for. I would go on long extended fasts and pray for nation-wide issues. I would spend my weekends at prayer meetings. I would doodle scriptures on my wrists in English class and host Bible studies in the hallways of my high school. It wasn't long into my hot pursuit after Christ that I realized this apparently was unusual Christian activity. I found myself on the end of pointed comments or looks that clearly thought this was "too much." Ironically, many of those comments came from fellow believers. Soon I began to think, maybe it is too much. Maybe I'm too spiritual. Maybe I'm a pharissee. Maybe I should keep my comments to myself. Maybe I should hang back. Maybe I shouldn't pray so loudly.
       So, I did. I decided to be the quiet one. I only shared my thoughts when it was in appropriate church settings. I let others do the leading in conversation and took to the corner. I listened while harboring up the many things I was seeing, hearing, and sensing. I didn't water down my pursuit. I still did all the things I did. I just turned down the volume of my voice in an effort to make sure I wasn't being "too spiritual." I'd let the comments get to me, supposing them to be true. The reality is, they were all lies. And it wasn't until this week that I realized it was a lie I still believed.
        I found my confession of this fear tumbling out of my mouth in the middle of our conversation at an IHOP table at 2 in the morning. I made sure the tears didn't fall as I shared how badly I wanted people to know I loved them. I didn't want them to think I was trying to be "holier than thou." I didn't want them to think I was trying to one-up them or convince them that I had some phenomenal relationship with God. I didn't want them to think I thought I was more anointed or wanted the spotlight. I didn't want them to think I was a fake. My friend laughed and said, "Maybe you should have a "coming out party." I laughed with him, but mid-laugh realized maybe that wasn't such a bad idea. "That's you, Jessica. You are spiritual and there's nothing wrong with that. You spend most of your time working in ministry...of course you'll get called religious. Being spiritual isn't a bad thing. It's you. Embrace it."
        With as simple a statement as that, I was free. Yeah! What's wrong with being spiritual!? I WASN'T faking it, so, what does it matter what they think? I'm NOT trying to be heard by men, like a Pharissee in the marketplace. I'm NOT just slapping, "God said" on everything. I'm NOT making up visions to be heard. I'm NOT praying loud just so people can hear me. I'm NOT fasting to be holier. I'm NOT legalistic. I'm NOT trying to make myself out to be anything that I'm not. I'm NOT trying to teach you something. I'm here for love. My voice is surrendered to be used to release love to people! I'm here to expose darkness and advance a superior kingdom. My heart really is pure!
        I can't be anyone else but me. Over and over again people are asking me to share my life with them. That is what love does. That is friendship. If you really want me to be me, then this is all I have to offer. This is the real me. I have lots of visions. I want to break out in prayer in the middle of conversations. I want to fast and groan for glory. I believe you can hear from God in an instant and not have to wait for months to get an answer. I pray pretty loud. I have stories of encounters. I want to pray for random people--including you. I talk a lot about Jesus and what He's saying to me. I don't watch certain movies or read certain books or say certain things. That is all part of the real Jessica. And that's all I can give! Even Jesus was seen for someone He wasn't. He was called a demoniac, a sinner, a political king, a heretic, a blasphemer, and mocked for what He said. But everything He did was actually love!
        So, if anyone calls me "too" spiritual or religious, it won't touch me anymore! Yay! I am who God says I am. I know my heart and He knows my heart. I live for God's eyes alone. So, if I'm seen as "too much" for praying before the prayer meeting starts, fasting while the people feast, sharing visions, speaking up, studying my Bible, and skipping out on certain social events...so be it. I've made up my mind to be a voice. I choose to speak up at an opportunity I'm given to share. So, I guess this is my offical coming out party:  I am Jessica and I am spiritual.


October 22, 2012

Dreams.






A dream is a wispy, fleeting thing that must be caught before it grows.

Upon capture, a tiny seed of a dream becomes a flourishing, fiery beast that gnaws at the center of your heart until it's fulfilled.

It's a vision.
              A hope.

Something that sneaks inside of you before you even realize it's there.

 A dream is even with you-sometimes with baited breath-waiting to be unclenched.
Other times with raging screams as it tears through your world like a wild beast.

Steady now.....I see one flying near. Will you catch it?

June 13, 2012

Onward

You know that time period in between seasons where it's not quite one season and it's not quite the other...it's just sort of stuck in transition? When you're stuck in between seasons you don't really know what to clothe yourself in because the weather is unpredictable. You go outside in shorts and a t-shirt and have to run back inside for a sweater and blue jeans. You aren't sure if you can drink the apple cider yet or if it's still lemonade time. You get the picture. And if we're speaking about weather, it's still very much summer, but if you're talking about Jessica Harwood, it's transition time. It's a bit mushy, fairly uncomfortable, and pretty awkward here in between two seasons.
I can clearly see where I came from (an exciting time of dreaming and preparing for glory through stewardship) and I can see brief snatches of where I'm going ("deeper still" in consecration and intimacy), yet I'm not sure of where I am now. I'm walking from Moab to Bethlehem, but I don't know these cities in between. I have tons of ideas, plans, and strategies, but only the Lord knows which I'm to focus on right now. I can tell something is shifting because suddenly I have long lists, but short time, which means something is about to give. I have peace and stillness in my soul, but everything around me is blurry and unset. 

Well, there's nothing I can do, but keep walking, keep listening, and keep watching. Come August, I feel I'll be setting foot into the new season before me, but until then I will be the wanderlust traveler who presses on, poised for direction. 

Speak Lord, I'm listening.

P.S. Another sign of transition? I've moved beyond that "All the Way In" song by Etiene and into the instrumental album "The Fragile World" by Avox. Heavy presence fills my room every time. Check 'em out.

May 24, 2012

A Knowing


There are no words, but I’ll try.

This is what I feel: I don’t even know Him. I barely know Him. 
I may know Him more than "the majority", 
but that is not enough.
I have to know Him.

This hunger outweighs everything.
The world, and all its lusts, is growing dim.

There’s a place. There’s a place. There’s a place.
A hiding place.
A shhhhh place.
A under-the-covers-with-a-flashlight place with God.

Oh, to know Him.
It weighs even more than souls.
To know Him.

I will never learn to do ministry.
I refuse.
Instead, I will be like Moses who goes in the tent.
And when I come out my face will shine and lives will be changed.
There really is no other way to live….not anymore.

I’ve been ruined, stained with His Presence.
The depths I’ve known aren’t even in the deep end.
I’ve been fooled.

I thought I was swimming,
But this is only ankle-deep still.

Oh, Heavens, what is this place?

May 20, 2012

Untrodden Territory

I'm at a place with God that I've never been before. I've crossed into a realm that has sealed me in with no passport back to where I came from. I’m in a state of desperation and heightened perception that I never knew existed. What is this land? It is neither sky nor sea. Perhaps it’s depth and height both. Regardless, I don’t know how to charter these waters nor do I know the layout of this land. It’s so…new. I’ve always been in a state of growing in my walk with Christ, but I’ve seemed to have stepped into something entirely untrodden and otherworldy. I’m finding myself consistently undone, unglued. It’s not uncommon for me to burst into laughter for no apparent reason or, likewise, into sobs and supplications. And there’s this stirring, stirring, stirring in me. And it’s nearing a gnawing: a raging fire in my veins and bones. I don’t know much, but whatever place this is, it is holy. It is irreplaceable. It is good, but it is fearsome. I couldn't go back, even if I wanted to. 


This place. The air here is weighty. It presses on my chest and sinks me to my knees. The taste is of salt, trailing in on the wind, leaving my lips chapped like an adventurers. And the earth…(is this earth beneath me?) it’s ready. It’s ready to be tossed into fertile soil. Most peculiar in this country though are its sounds. There are so many. And they are of so vast a variety that it’s hard to define. There’s the sounds of chains snapping, but also of giants writhing. There’s the sound of ocean-depths. And orphan cries. And billowing whirlwinds. And clanking armor. And love-intoxicated melodies. What is this place? What can it be? And what is this in me? There's treasure in my depths that I knew nothing of.  Believe me, I'm not boasting in the jar of clay, but in the immeasurable Being I found that dwells in the encasement of me. 


There are heads rolling of beasts I never thought could be conquered, and color bursting forth from places where only darkness was. And a door, as old as time-suspended in nothingness-unlocks a universe of wonder, spectacles, and foolish, lavish love for a King whose face is etched with laugh-lines. Everything in me seems to have snapped at once to make room for this Foreign Something. It's as if I swallowed the whole ocean in one sitting and now the weight of it, and all the life that teems within it, is within me. What has happened? And what have I done to deserve such goodness?


There's no precedent to this. There was no preparation for this. It's like waking up to find yourself positioned directly beneath the waters of Niagara Falls. Except it doesn't break or drown; it builds and breathes. I've been to places in You, Lord, I never knew, but never other worlds! What is this place? What is it?