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The very first time I used the phrase “kiss of heaven” was just after the birth of our first daughter, Amy Jaye. I was scrambling to find a way to describe knowing that the supernatural has intervened to bring you to the place you are in today. I think my heart had asked to be a mother as long as I can remember. Years before we became pregnant, I collected baby things—even with the name Amy printed on them! I am so very thankful to my ever-patient husband for not dashing my hopes as I built my collection of baby items.
By the time Amy was on her way to us, I was so ready for my dream to come true. My fairy-tale picture of motherhood portrayed me lying in the hospital bed surrounded by ivory roses (my favorite flower), my hair and makeup perfect (just like the movies), holding my newborn beautifully swathed in a magnificent pink muslin wrap, and of course I was immediately back to my pre-pregnancy shape.
When I actually went into labor, I did my hair and makeup (as planned), put a pink ribbon in my hair (as planned), dressed as nicely as I could (considering my size), and off we went. Reality had not kicked in. I was a first-time mum with no clue as to what was in front of me. I hadn’t yet really grasped the concept of why birthing babies is called labor. I took too long doing my makeup and made it to hospital too late for any pain relief. Somewhere in the haze of contractions I remember begging the doctor, “Kill me! PLEEEASE!!”
And then ...
I gave birth to a divine answer to prayer, pink and beautiful ...
8 lb., 14 oz., Amy Jaye Zschech!
The photo of me holding Amy soon after birth does not look anything like my carefully planned portrait of motherhood! There I sat with my hospital gown half done up, my eye makeup smeared down to my cheekbones, baby hidden by the hugest hospital blanket ever. And the pink ribbon? It was around my neck!
However, by that afternoon I was severely bitten by the “baby-love bug.” I was totally and utterly besotted by this “dream come true” lying in her little crib beside me. Out of my mouth, to my very tired husband, came the words, “The only way I can describe this is as though God himself has come and kissed me on the head. She is our very own ‘kiss of heaven.’” (I tell A.J. all the time, “God kissed me on the head the day you were born.” She rolls her eyes and just says, “Yeah, yeah, Mum. You’ve told me that a million times!”)
James 2:20 says, “Faith without works is dead” (NKJV). So it is with God’s favor: You can’t just cross your fingers, take no action, and hope for the best. But when diligence, obedience, and trust in God are combined with the supernatural hand of our Almighty God; well, there you have it—the Kiss.
In 2000 I wrote a song entitled “Kiss of Heaven” for an album called the Mercy Project. The words of this title are what come to me continually whenever I try to intelligibly describe that sense of heaven touching earth—when someone’s life is totally and miraculously turned around through relationship with his or her Creator. It is the most appropriate way I can explain how He has transformed my life, giving me beauty for ashes, a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, the oil of joy for mourning. How beautiful is our God!
We all have dreams, aspirations, and goals we want to achieve—some grand, some noble, some small. In aspiring to achieve so many things, first and foremost, I know that to enjoy and to be aware of God’s continual presence is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and to give God our whole heart is His greatest delight. “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).
It is totally awe-inspiring to realize that God, the Creator of heaven and earth, is eagerly looking for people who believe in Him and have committed to loving Him completely. His grace is available to all who receive salvation; His favor is lavished upon those whose hearts are completely His. He is looking for wholly dedicated believers through whom He can shine. I always wanted to believe in my heart that He could shine through me, but it took a while for me to understand that it was even possible.
God is watching for someone to kiss with His favor even at this very moment. He watches—hoping to see our hands lifted up to love Him, serve Him, and receive His help so He can demonstrate His loving power through us to a love-starved planet. As I travel the continents of the world to lead praise and worship among God’s people, I can almost feel the longing in God’s own heart as He searches for individuals who will yield their entire confidence to Him. “For the eyes of the Lord search back and forth across the whole earth, looking for people whose hearts are perfect toward him, so that he can show his great power in helping them” (2 Chronicles 16:9 TLB).
To seek God’s blessing in our lives is not a selfish ambition if we understand the reason that blessing is given. Favor is not designed so we can become hoarders of goodness, but it is given to those proven trustworthy, with open hands to receive and open hands to give. His undeserved grace and favor on the works of our hands give evidence to a lost world that He exists and is powerful to make His promises come alive for us. As we keep our eyes focused on the Lord and obey His direction for our daily lives, others will see the benefits of His favor on us, and they will be encouraged to also walk in His radiant presence. We are blessed to bless others!
So many Christians are missing the glorious benefits of God’s continual presence. They enjoy brief moments of awareness of His presence, but sometimes the stories of their encounters with Him are many years old. Their faces radiate as they share their testimony of His rescue or provision that first drew them to Him, but then their countenance quickly dims as they speak of their current trials.
My deepest desire is to worship and love my God with all my heart, all my soul, and all my strength (Deuteronomy 6:5) and to inspire others into wholehearted daily lifestyle worship of our living God. The Father longs to rescue you every moment of every day. He wants your testimony of His mercy to be new each morning. He has new ideas to give us and new understanding to reveal to us. His matchless creativity is unending and largely unexplored, and He wants to demonstrate His magnificence to the world through the inspiring, God-filled lives of His people. Psalm 33:3 says, “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.” The Word actually commands us to sing a new song and to shout, to make known, the goodness of our King.
Jesus taught that we are to ask God for daily bread, which is a beautiful picture of God’s continual provision for our lives. He told His disciples,
Stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, and about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life greater [in quality] than food, and the body [far above and more excellent] than clothing?
For the Gentiles (heathen) wish for and crave and diligently seek all these things, and your heavenly Father well knows that you need them all.
But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom, and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right], and then all these things taken together will be given you besides. (Matthew 6:25, 32–33 AMP)
I love this Scripture. Again the Lord shows us where to place our value while living this life. It’s the wonderful reality again of serving Jesus—you are excited about life, filled with passion and zeal, and continually realizing His involvement in taking you to a point of fulfillment. You seek God’s righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, and, just as promised, God is faithful to give you above and beyond everything you need to achieve your sense of purpose on earth. Graced for life, and favored for living.
The contrast between those who seek God and those who seek only His benefits is severe. Many believers continually find themselves frustrated, I believe, because instead of pursuing Him, they devote their energy to seeking a title, recognition, and the appearance or trappings of success. I recently heard this kind of behavior described as living under “cheap grace”—devoid of an understanding of the price paid for us. It’s halfhearted; it’s hearing without listening, breathing without living.
The journey from halfhearted to wholehearted is one I know well. I had so many insecurities, wrong thinking, and vain ambitions (which I had carefully nurtured over the years!) that had to be quieted in me before I could even start to believe that God had a perfect plan to unfold for my life. Now I know it’s called pride, but at the time, I didn’t want to hear it! Even at a young age I sensed that God’s plan was far greater than my own, and I earnestly prayed that God would somehow use me. But when I first started serving within the house of God, I didn’t understand that He could use my unique experience and gifts to serve His calling on my life, that I had been lovingly crafted, just like you are, for divine purpose.
I tried so many ways to use my gift. I went anywhere there was an opportunity to sing. I was saved, I knew the Lord, but I was still trying to find my place. That sense of fulfillment seemed to continually elude me. I sang advertising jingles, and walked through just about any door that opened out of fear of missing out. I had no understanding of what it meant to know my life purpose and pursue it with all of my being.
It was easy to trust God with my spiritual life, and I loved Him immensely. But I was very nervous about using all of my time and energy to serve my local church for fear of what that would involve. My deep sense of insecurity, inadequacy, intimidation, and all the other “in” words almost left me down for the count!
I didn’t find it easy to trust God to use the natural abilities He had given to me. On a spiritual level, I loved God and loved to worship Him, but when it meant actually giving my time and energy to serve Him, well, that was a very, very different thing. My inner man and my outer man were at odds—the seen and the unseen did not meet at all!
My heart and my passion was music, but I tried to keep that interest separate from serving the Lord. Aren’t we funny? I somehow never imagined that God would ask me to serve Him through what I loved to do. I thought somehow that was carnal, and I would be much more spiritual if I served doing something I hated to do!
I now understand that God is faithful to complete the good work He begins in us. He doesn’t ask us to conform to the world or to each other. We are to serve one another with our own unique gifts. We are not asked to hide our true selves in order to fit in. He did not make one mistake when we were created.
The Song of Solomon 6:8–9 reveals God’s delight over our individuality: “Sixty queens there may be, and eighty concubines, and virgins beyond number; but my dove, my perfect one, is unique, the only daughter of her mother, the favorite of the one who bore her.” Understanding and truly knowing that God created each of us unique, different, and designed with purpose, allows my heart to trust, to “be still and know that [he is] God” (Psalm 46:10), to see His grace and His undeserved favor revealed over my life, allowing His dream to surface!
But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.
|Introduction: The Power of Favor||13|
|Chapter 1||The Kiss of Heaven||20|
|Chapter 2||Jesus--The Dream-Maker||34|
|Chapter 3||What Is the Desire of Your Heart?||48|
|Chapter 4||The Dream-Stealer||68|
|Chapter 5||The Heaven Exchange||90|
|Chapter 6||A Fully Devoted Heart||104|
|Chapter 7||Devoted to His Word||118|
|Chapter 8||Devoted to His Worship||138|
|Chapter 9||Devoted to His Walk||154|
|Chapter 10||Devoted to His Work||168|
|Chapter 11||Keep Your Way Pure||178|
|Chapter 12||Like Stars in the Universe||200|
Posted April 19, 2009
No text was provided for this review.