By Kathi Pelton
Last night during our “Movement Night” at our church here in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Aaron Custalow shared such a powerful message. Toward the end of his message there was a moment when Aaron shares an encounter he had years ago where he had been striving to please God and running so hard for His Kingdom but it derived from a place where he was trying to “earn God’s approval” or to “return something to Jesus so because of the price He paid on the cross.” The things he was doing (preaching, praying, fasting) weren’t wrong but it came from a place of striving. God wanted his heart and for him to run with Him; not merely “for Him”. At the end of the encounter Aaron is taken to heaven and placed on the Father’s lap. He turns and sees Jesus sitting at the Father’s right side and He looks at him and says, “Aaron, I’m not mad about the cross!” (Mic drop!)
Those words penetrated the atmosphere throughout the room. How many sons and daughters in the family of God are striving but not in the grace and rest of Jesus but in a driveness to somehow earn what has been freely given? The works are good, the running hard is good but the motivation of the heart is not aligned with sonship and the absolutely free gift that Jesus gave us on the cross (we were the “joy set before Him”). When Aaron repeated the words that Jesus spoke to him, “I’m not mad about the cross” I could feel it penetrating hearts that had been striving with a sense of “I’m not doing enough!” My heart was more free to “strive to enter into His rest.” It felt like a moment of deliverance from striving.
Yes, we should give our all for the sake of His name and so that He receives His full inheritance! Yes, we should give our “yes” to all that He asks! But we do it to run with Him in joy, freedom and in rest. The price He paid did not come with a disclaimer or some small print that we forgot to read that said, “You still owe Me something.” It was and is free and HE’S NOT MAD ABOUT WHAT HE PAID! HE’S NOT MAD ABOUT THR CROSS!
These words felt like a trip wire for many returning to first love. Somewhere along the way the running after Him turned into our job or our work but we lost joy and passion. First love causes us to run but we don’t tire and we don’t leave His side. We just want to be with Him! He becomes our motivation and we do more than ever before but we don’t weary because we run from the place of “there is no where I’d rather be and no one I’d rather be with!”
When my husband and I were dating I hardly slept; I just wanted to be where he was! I’d work an eight hour day and then go to be with him and often at 3 a.m. we’d still be talking, holding hands and not wanting to leave each other’s side. When I slept I’d awake with my first thought being, “When can I see him, hold him and be in the presence of his love again today?” That is what first love looks like.
I could feel the atmosphere changing last night and I knew that it is just a taste of what is coming. A return to first love is coming to those who have walked with Him for many years and many new believers will come in as they fall in love with the One that the Church has fallen back in love with.
There is an atmosphere around a couple newly in love! It is alive, it is full of hopes, dreams, joy and it is single focused. When first love comes back upon His bride (His Church) in the way that I am seeing, it will a corporate atmosphere change. People will be drawn like a moth to the flame. We will run and not grow weary!
I find myself groaning in prayer often these days for a handful of things; two of them are for my heart of come into the fullness of first love once again and the second is that the motives of my heart are pure (purely devoted to Him). I believe that first love will cure the heart motives issue in many! We will do what we do because we just can’t get enough of Him and our thoughts are always on what brings joy to His heart.
Be encouraged! It’s as if the ceiling is cracking open and soon we will be under an open heaven of His manifest love. And remember; “He’s not mad about the cross!”
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