January 15th, I departed for a whirlwind adventure that was to be an awakening of a passion that has long lain dormant.
In 1999 I prepared to launch my senior year of high school, studying abroad as an exchange student in France. I came back forever changed. The condensed version consists of beginning the semester optimistically, and full of potential. However, a series of compromises and poor choices led me to defeat. Just as Esau sold his God-given birthright for a frivolous bowl of soup, appeasing an immediate, carnal demand by selling his promises, I too traded my promises from God for gratification of the flesh. This opened doors to addictions and destructive behavior.
As I have repented and began to seek God’s face, He has led me through a long line of open doors to this point. I am forgiven. I am saved. I am redeemed. There comes a point in time that God will call you to reclaim what is rightfully yours. The children of Israel were doing just that in Joshua 1. They were led through the wilderness until they had been built up and purified and had come to the point of being able to reclaim the promises of God for their own.
God opened the doors for me to teach French a few years ago, and take my students to Paris on an educational tour this June! The company we are touring with paid for the training tour I just attended, in Paris! God has orchestrated every step to bring me to where I am in creative and unique ways! As I prayed and fasted over this tour, we saw the chaos erupt in Paris. It was not an accident that we were scheduled to go at this time. God told me my “mission” was to pray as I went, interceding for the city. Not only was I brought there to intercede, but also to go back to claim what I had given away the first time, through His authority and power!
I had three very distinct “God moments” while on the tour. Yes, I got to sight see, and tour, and even sleep (a little) but there were three very clear encounters with God that will forever be etched in my memory.
#1. The Louvre
On the very first day, about 8am Paris time, we went from the airport to the hotel, leaving our baggage and then making our way to the heart of the city. Our very first destination was the Louvre! We had our tickets in advance and were given about 2.5 hours to roam and meet back up at the front pyramid to head over to Notre Dame.
I went immediately to see the Mona Lisa and the famous French paintings I had only admired in books such as Marie-Anne, Napoleon, Joan of Arc, and many others! After seeing what I truly wanted to see, I still had about an hour and thought I would go out front and people watch. As I headed slowly towards the exit, I felt the Holy Spirit urge me to go down a side hall to see another exhibit. “Sure, I have time” I thought. I saw this cool exhibit about Egypt and other things. When I finished, I still had ample time so I went to head back and noticed another hall. I felt the Holy Spirit again say, “Why not check out that hall?” “Ok. Why not?” I thought. I went down another hall and saw some statues and other artwork. Finally there was a third hall and another prompting to take it. At that hall, I saw a sign that said, “Islamic Art and Artifacts”. AH HA! I get it now! I realized where the Holy Spirit was leading me and paused a moment to gather my thoughts and focus on what He was asking of me. As I entered the exhibit, I began to pray under my breath over the people who are lost and in need of the saving grace of Jesus Christ! The plates, and cups, and artifacts were interesting and I circled the room, slowly observing and praying. As I came to the other side of the room, there was a circular staircase leading downwards to more of the exhibit. I felt strongly to take the stairs and entered a dark room, full of large artwork and artifacts. There were carpets, tapestries, hanging artwork and door panels. However, there were also cases of stone with engravings on them.
While I circled the room in prayer I noticed the placard on the case said that the stones were engravings of the Koran. I circled the cases in prayer and as I began the circle, I heard God say, “It is not a coincidence that this exhibit is here and in the basement. This spirit of false religion is trying to take root and destroy every place it is planted. I brought you here and am bringing others here to pray and uproot the demonic stronghold that is trying to entrench itself. Pray for the people to see the truth and pray for the bondage to be broken and the captives set free.” As I prayed, I felt the mission complete and I finished and left. It was a powerful and humbling moment.
#3. Sacre Coeur/Montmartre
Yes, I skipped #2 (chronological order) because it was a more personal moment and I felt that this was the second half of the missional calling to Paris this weekend.
We spent Sunday afternoon hiking from Moulin Rouge (notorious for skin and sin) up the steep hill to Montmartre and the Artist district. I struggled a bit but kept going and asking the Holy Spirit to, well help me not pass out! BUT, I felt like Rocky when I finally made it to the top! When we turned the corner into the artist district, I had a huge smile on my face. I had climbed almost to the highest point of the city and was watching God’s great gift of creativity being activated right before me.
There were magnificent works of art by some amazingly sweet people who love to talk to you about what they do and why they did it! I did buy a small canvas from a very colorful painter. After enjoying this, I headed up the rest of the hill to the basilica of Sacre Coeur, a catholic church at the highest point of the city of Paris. As you look out from the stairs, you can see down into the valley over the city. It is amazing!
I looked out as the lights were just beginning to slowly glow for the evening. I got to the top of the stairs and entered the church, praying through and listening to the service being conducted. As I came out of the church, I stepped off to the middle, and sat on the top step just looking out over the city. It wasn’t too crowded because it was Sunday so I had ample time to sit and pray and think. As I looked out I began to listen to hear what God would say about this place. I waited and He spoke. “The ‘City of Lights’ is a beautiful place that has lost its first love. Their lights are so bright that they can’t see the ‘Father of Lights’. This is happening all over the Western World, even now, which is why it has been so easy for the enemy to penetrate through. It is your light and not mine, hovering over the cities. Pray that they begin to see My light shining through the false security of their man-made lights.”
I wept and prayed as I realized that God had led me below the city to pray and then allowed me to now pray, literally, over the city and its people. I poured oil onto the ground, anointing it and praying for God’s light to penetrate through the man-made lights and repented on behalf of those of us who have tried to replicate the Light of the world and relying on it to keep us from the dark that is creeping in underneath.
I saved this part for last because it is the completion of my full revolution. I started in France, sinned, repented, and came full circle, by the grace of God, to reclaim the promises He gave me long ago (see my last blog post, XXXII: A New Chapter)! We entered the palace, through a grand foyer and into a large, ornate room. We walked through the 9 rooms of the kings, Louis XIV, XV, & XVI and saw the hall of mirrors where the treaty of Versailles was signed!
They took us through grand, decorated doors into the king’s chambers. As our tour guide talked about the different kings and queens, and how they each lived, I heard God speaking to me.
The king used to come to the chamber of the queen when he chose and she never went to him. God spoke and said, “You call out to me and want me to meet you where you are, and I love to do that. I love to come away to your secret place and meet you there. However, I long for the day when I can bring you into MY chambers. When I call for you, come! When I open the doors for you to come into MY presence, enter in without fear or shame! You are mine, my beloved, and I am yours! I am calling for my bride, my lover, my companion, my friend.”
|The Queen's Chamber|
It was all I could do to keep it together, looking at all the rooms that separated the king from the queen and how ritualistic their intimacy had been reduced to. God longs for so much more! He yearns to be with us and not separated by traditions, pride, or fear.
As I left Paris, I felt I had just gone through a high speed chase, in the middle of a tornado! It all happened so quickly. It took me almost all week just to process it and write it all down but I feel re-energized and empowered by how much God truly loves us and what measures He will go through just to reach us and be with us! He truly is awe-some!
God bless you as you seek Him with your whole heart and are found by Him! He is a rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him!