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May 11, 2016, 12:00 PM

Choose Life


by Haley MaKenna Hardman

 

Has God ever asked you to do something that didn’t make a whole ton of sense to you at the time? He has me… God is a wonderful mystery to me. No matter how much I learn from Him, there is infinitely more to discover throughout the rest of eternity. Over my short span of life, I’ve found that His ways are abundantly beyond mine and His thoughts far greater than my own. So, when God asked me to do a negative word fast for the entire month of February, I tried to keep this in mind. This kind of fast was new to me- quite frankly, I had never heard of anyone fasting words- but God led me to a couple verses and gave me a revelation and I’d like to share it with whoever may be reading this today.

Now, before I get too deep into it, you must know the back story: there’s this conference called Winterfest that my church (and several other churches) goes to. The particular one we attend is called Frontier Winterfest and it’s located in Arlington, TX. We had all just gotten back from this amazing conference when God laid this fast on my heart. Now, in the past when we have come home from Winterfest, we have tended to act differently because of the experience that we’ve had with God, but after a couple of weeks at home, we all kind of just stop acting differently and go back to the comfortable “normal” that we are all used to. The fire dies off, and everything goes dark. Every year we tend to say that it’ll be different: “This is the year for God to change everything in my life, and I will really give everything that I have to Him!” I’ve discovered that that’s not how it works, and although God is an amazing God and He can do miraculous things, at some point we have to make a decision to choose life or death or we’re simply not living.

             You see, I’m a very hard headed person, and when I get something in my head, it’s very hard to get it out. This past year at Winterfest I watched, and experienced, choices being made to sincerely chase God. The atmosphere was not quite the same, because in all honesty, there really wasn’t a whole lot of emotionalism going on- which is wonderful in my opinion. Basically, if you went in and truly sought God out, you found Him, but if you just went in expecting Him to do a work within you without truly seeking His face, you missed it. I had a genuinely impactful weekend and I experienced a Psalm 143:6 moment that I’m almost positive I will never forget. As soon as our bus left the hotel parking lot, though, I found myself preparing for the downfall- the moment where everything goes dark. God kind of slapped me in the face on that ride home, because as good as the weekend was, I’d have to say that the conversation on that church bus made all of the difference. It was during that two hour and sixteen minute ride home that I decided that the fire was not going to go out like it has in years past. I didn’t know how it was going to keep burning, but I knew within the depths of my soul that God had a plan… And when God has a plan, nothing and no one can keep Him from doing it.

            So, that Monday I started to school and everything was going great until I realized that I had completely forgotten where I had been the past weekend. I immediately had let the stress of school and the busyness of life drown out the voice of God leading me forth. In turn, I became what I was so worried about becoming the minute I woke up the next morning. To say the least, I repented and I sat in the floor that Monday night at Prayer Meeting with my Bible open and pencil ready. During that Prayer Meeting, God brought forth a word in my heart and I watched it come to life before me. He led me to Ezekiel 3 first…

 

Ezekiel 3:10-11, 24-27 (NLT)

Then he added, “Son of man, let all my words sink deep into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully yourself. Then go to your people in exile and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says!’ Do this whether they listen to you or not.”… Then the Spirit came into me and set me on my feet. He spoke to me and said, “Go to your house and shut yourself in. There, son of man, you will be tied with ropes so you cannot go out among the people. And I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be speechless and unable to rebuke them, for they are rebels. But when I give you a message, I will loosen your tongue and let you speak. Then you will say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says!’ Those who choose to listen will listen, but those who refuse will refuse, for they are rebels.

 

Then He led me to Ezekiel 37

 

Ezekiel 37: 4-10 (NLT)

Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so that they may live again.’” So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet- a great army.

 

And then He led me to Proverbs 18:21

 

Proverbs 18:21 (NLT)

The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.

 

It was then that all of this came together in my head, and in that moment, I knew how the fire was going to keep going: we were going to speak it into existence. Our tongue has so much power, and it’s our choice to use it to bring life or to bring death. Just think about it for a second: God spoke our world into existence; He spoke us into existence! Ezekiel spoke to a valley of dry bones and they literally became living humans again- a great army. Jesus spoke and a dead man named Lazarus came out of his tomb alive again. Peter spoke and about 3,000 people came to know Jesus as their Savior in one day. You cannot convince me that our tongue and the words that come out of our mouth do not have eternal effects on those that hear them.

God presented me with a challenge that day. He told me that I was not to speak one death bringing word for the entire month of February because He had put a message inside of His people, and it needed to come to life inside of us. Honestly, I didn’t know how much I complained and spoke death over things/people until I couldn’t anymore. I suddenly had a whole lot less to say, but I have never felt so good about what came out of my mouth. During the month of February, it was not easy to bite my tongue at times, and I’ll be completely transparent and let you know that I did speak death a time or two (or three or four), but the words that burned inside of me never stopped flaming and that’s exactly what I had been praying about. The fire never went away when I didn’t throw death at it. Not only inside of me did I see sparks, but in people that I never would have thought could want to know God (that sounds really bad, but I promise I don’t mean it in a bad or demeaning way). Seriously, I sat at lunch with people that I barely know, not saying anything about anything, and all of the sudden- literally out of nowhere- a conversation about God started up, and I got to have an opportunity to tell a person that doesn’t believe in anything about life with a purpose and experiencing a love that is like no other. I watched as two families who have been battling for nearly eight years, made steps towards restoration- on several accounts. I watched my church take steps toward reaching out to the community around us. I watched a seemingly broken team of people come together and do great things for the glory of God.

So why am I telling you all of this? Well, I’m writing this in the middle of March, and I’ve had a lot of time to let the words that God gave me at the beginning of February sink deep into my heart, and I have listened very carefully. Now it’s your turn. I am by no means telling you that you have to fast negative words; I am by no means telling you that you have to do anything. I am just giving you a challenge to choose life- for real- whether that be in your speech, your actions, your thoughts, or your relationships. In the words of Dr. Seuss, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

-Haley MaKenna Hardman


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