"He restores my soul." ~ Ps. 23:3
Oh 2011. I have never anticipated a new year like this one.
I woke up on New Year's Day proclaiming, "I'm still standing."
And I literally stood on 1-1-11 so long that my feet hurt and my back ached. I spent that day, and the following 3 days, serving over 21,000 college students at Passion in downtown Atlanta. And through those very, very long hours, God's spirit constantly whispered, "I will restore you Melissa."
I take no credit for my ability to not only still be standing, but to also be serving. It is my Jesus, my Jesus alone who enables me.
He alone is greater and stronger and higher.
And those exact words were sung the very first song of the conference. Picture all of Phillips Arena packed out with 18 to 22 year olds crying out to God with everything in them. There are no words.
I sat in awe, tears welling in my eyes, as I bowed my head and thanked my God that He loves me so intimately, so personally, that He meets me just where I am and restores me with not just simple whispers or tiny hellos but with indescribable moments, truly glimpses of heaven on earth.
Earlier that day, I was so touched, as was the rest of my team, to work alongside men being restored out of homelessness, as we collected thousands of socks and towels for local organizations in Atlanta, one of which will be City of Refuge. My friend Karen and I even started a cheer with one of the men, "Socks and towels," something I truly never expected to find so much joy in.
That was just day 1. Day 2 brought a confirmation of my prayer for restoration in 2011. There in the "Go Center," part of an arena set up with organizations working to restore the poor all over the world, was a huge hello from the Lord - free-standing red letters as tall as me - RESTORE.
It was like those letters were covered and made red by the blood of Jesus. His pain for my restoration. His pain for the restoration of the broken people of the world.
The last 2 days were truly a blur. I recall lots of laughter shared with old and new amazing friends, lots of crowd control as we directed seas of college students, and lots of moments blown away by Jesus. I will never forget the late evenings after worship when the students were instructed to leave in silence, complete silence. And 21,000 college students took God seriously enough to obey. That, to me, gives me hope that a generation is rising up to go further and farther than ever before for the name of Jesus.
I left Passion utterly exhausted, yet so incredibly grateful to have poured out all of me for God's glory. I crawled into bed last night, opened my Bible to the concordance and searched for the word "restore." And I came to this passage, my prayer for 2011, from 1 Peter 5:10-11:
"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen."