Is your heart sound asleep or awakened? To be awake is for one to rouse from sleep. When awakened, you began to open your eyes and see. You can see it in the sunrise and sunset, a sprout of a tiny plant, or even a child’s first smile. For some, we had experienced an awakening when we first gave our lives to Christ when one decides to walk in total surrender. We began to pick up our cross with so much zeal and passion. We no longer wanted to live our lives in our hands. I, too, experienced my first awakening. When I decided to turn to Jesus, I first heard Lauren Daigle singing How Can it Be, the lyrics of the song completely undid me. Before my life was full of sadness and pain, I wanted something different and everlasting.
I remember saying to myself, and I too want to experience God in that way, ways I haven’t before. At that moment, at a conference of 2,000 people, a boldness started to rise within me. I believe that was me waking up, waking up out of my slumber into living, living a life that is pleasing to the Lord and not for myself. It is one thing to sing a great song, but to live it was different.
I was excited for this new chapter in life, a life that has been awakened to see and experience a living God. I began to read scripture and ask the Lord to show me who He is in my life, and I wanted to see Jesus who is near the brokenhearted, Holy Spirit swallowing up my loneliness, and God, the father, parenting his children, you and me.
On this Journey, my zeal and passion began to subside, my relationship with God became very passive. I began to strive for his love through performance and passivity. I was still carrying the heavyweights that entangled me. I thought that I was exempt from trials and pain because I was a Christian, but The Lord never promised that to me. He promised me a life that will face trouble and take heart because he has overcome it all. (John 16:33) I believed there was much more to God than what I was experiencing. I didn’t know how to get out of my slumber. I had deep wounds that were unspoken, stuck in a house in the lowest valley.
Wherever you are, maybe you are there right now.
This writing below is my testimony of the Lord came running down my prodigal road to awakening, my soul. This testimony is the meaning behind my painting “The Awakening” I created at my 18 Inch Journey. The 18 Inch Journey is a discipleship school lead by Jonathon and Melissa Helser and the Cageless Birds. The Journey is devoted to focusing on learning how to take care of your heart, practice honesty and vulnerability with Jesus, and experiencing the Holy Spirit in your daily life. I believe he can awake your soul to sing and believe again.
This writing is my personal experience of the hope the Lord brought to me.
My eyes shut tight. I was fast asleep
I Inhale and exhale
Suddenly the painter comes rushing in, urging me to wake up.
“Victoria, Victoria, WAKE UP, Victoria, can you hear me? This message is vital,” the painter shouted.
It felt like my eyes would not open.
With much effort and strength, I could only open my right eye.
Just enough to see the painter and the painting.
“Why the urgency?” I asked
He quickly paints AWAKEN in big letters covering the entirety of the wall.
Then the painter rushes out of the room.
There I was alone, trying to comprehend what happened, but because I was working out of my strength, it withered away, and I fell back asleep.
To AWAKEN, it is for one to rouse from sleep.
Walking into our final weeks of creating a painting to reflect our time during discipleship school, I was nervous; I wanted to paint something that captures the essence of my time on the land, so I decided to paint a self-portrait.
Painting a self-portrait meant I had to look at what I became. I was dull with hopelessness scramming for security, love, and guidance all on my own.
Before coming to the 18 Inch journey, I was without color, fading into the mundane life without eyes to see who God was and who I was becoming. As the mundane continued, I slipped into the cracks of the day-to-day, allowing the things around me to define me, losing more of who I indeed was, but while I was asleep, the Lord was transforming me.
Stepping foot on the farm, the Lord started to pull back the scales that were on my eyes. Scales shaped my eyes to see God more as a dictator than a friend and myself as a slave than a daughter.
He continued one by one pulling back the lies so that I could see. As he spoke words of adoration and belonging, my face began to fill with color. Color that brought the reality of my birthright. Shades of red and brown that brought life to my body and healing to my soul. The movement of color represents God, my father breathing breath back into me.
Now I can truly see the process of becoming and learning my destiny is not what I do. It is who I am. This reality allows me to walk into Victoria, who is already loved without conditions, known from the beginning, accepted without limitations, and already chosen.
Suddenly I took a step back to reflect then I realized it was God painting me all along. I am no longer sleeping, and this is my awakening.
End of Testimonial.
I am continually awakening to the beautiful colors of sanctification, the grace of God changing me to be more like Jesus. The father is still not finished with his paint strokes on his paintbrush on my life. I trust Him to challenge, mold, and love me into beautiful artwork to shine his Glory and goodness the rest of my life.
Here are three ways to continue the process of awakening
- Honesty is a sweet fragrance unto the Lord. (Psalm 34:17-18)
Before learning that my honesty is what the Lord truly desires, I hesitated to be honest with him in my prayers. I believed that my self-protection was honesty, but it was not. The truth is, I was building a wall between God and me. To recognize the power of openness is to have a conversation with God dealing with our emotions and confessing our sins before him. There is so much freedom in knowing God already knows everything. Why not bring it into the light. A little reminder to remember is that truth and Love can never be separated.
- Build with the Holy Spirit (John 14:26-27)
I was not aware of my access to the Holy Spirit; I believe it was only for certain people. How could a promise of God become so taboo to my life or even ceasing before experiencing it? I lived in denial, telling myself I believe in good things about Him and not acknowledging the negative roots I thought.
Some advice I received at my 18 Inch journey that I believe would help is: When we look back on our past, we tend to be very hard on ourselves regarding our redemption and healing. Building a healthy root system takes simplistic repentance of those negative beliefs and listening to God’s truth. In reality, when we build with the Holy Spirit, we can look back and forward, creating space for growth and restoration. Experiencing the value of walking with the Holy Spirit is to know him as a Friend believing you have a helper at every moment in your life. Every high and low, you are not alone.
- Sing Again (Revelation 12:11)
We overcome the enemy by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony. Have you stopped telling yourself your story? I am learning when I can not see, and I am anxious if the Lord will come through for me; I paused and began to remind myself of what he did for me in the past and believe he will do it again. If he said it, we must believe it. I encourage you to begin to sing and rehearse the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord. I challenge you to sing your redemption story over yourself throughout each day.
Praise comes from our admiration of God. I was in a place of darkness when I recognize that praise was my weapon, a stance of stillness, and a melody that nurtured my heart. So let His praise rise, no longer holding it in. May this blog begin to fill your life with color to breathe and live again, in the bright colors of sunshine pushing out the darkness. I believe he can awake your soul to sing and believe again.
The earth is ready to hear your melody, SING.
In addition, you can find this painting on the newly released single called Color, written by artist Kristen M. Hicks. Her prayer is that when you listen to this song, you encounter his heart for you and those around you, standing firm in the truth of his Love. All proceeds will be donated to the One Race Atlanta Movement.
Check out the 18-inch journey website here!
Listen to the song Color here!
Victoria Dynasty James is a friend of God. You can always find her giving encouraging words on Instagram @victoria.dynasty and in person. Her prayer is that others will come to know the value of friendship with Jesus.