Women Connect in Prayer – Heather Gilstrap – Session Two

So it was a Sunday
afternoon, I was about 13 years
old, and my mom and dad sat my older brother and I
down and told us they
were getting a divorce. And while this was a huge
moment in my life, this was
not the moment that changed me. The moment that changed
me was what happened next. It was my dad looking at me
and saying, “You’re not enough
to keep me here anymore.” And so back up a few
months prior to this
moment in my life, it was a few months of me sleeping with
my door cracked, just enough
to hear my parents fighting. And on the nights that
I felt brave enough, I would run into the
middle of their fights, put my arms out like this,
begged them to stop
fighting, ask them, “What can I do to make this better? You love each other.” Reminding them of all this
good stuff, we’re a family. And it would always
end the same way. My dad would throw down
his bag of clothes and say,
“Because of you, I’ll stay.” When it finally come to
a point where I wasn’t
enough to keep him there. And in that moment as a 13 year old girl, my
idea of the father daughter
relationship was pretty broken. And that began my quest to
find my enoughness in life. Now I share this very vulnerable
part of my story with you
because I believe as we have the next few moments together
to study the next part of the Lord’s prayer,
thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth
as it is in heaven. I believe that there
is one barrier that can stop his kingdom from
coming down in your life. I believe that that one
barrier is a loss of
identity as a daughter. And you might be in here
tonight and say, “Heather, I don’t struggle with my
identity as a daughter. I love my dad. I have a great dad. I don’t have that kind
of story that you have.” Well, maybe you struggle with
comparison, competing, proving
this feeling to be perfect. Some pride is in there. Maybe you struggle with some
insecurities indecisiveness,
making decisions. Maybe you have some shame,
some fear, depression. You live a victim instead
of a victorious life. Well, I’d like to propose
tonight that maybe, just maybe
that those are all fruits of a root in a loss of identity,
that you struggle with comparing and competing because somewhere
along the way you thought
you needed to prove who you are, but you have
forgotten whose you are. And now with God the father,
there is no proving, just grace. And then maybe you struggle
with indecisiveness because you lack confidence
and you lack confidence
because somewhere along the way you have
forgotten who you are, a daughter who has been
fearfully and wonderfully made. I know with all of
my heart from what I had been experiencing
with the Lord the past
five years that he wants to free you from all that
stuff, but more than for you, He wants to revive
something in you tonight. He wants to set something ablaze
in you tonight and remind you of who you are as a daughter. He wants you to come back
into alignment tonight
and pray to him as a father, a daughter who is in
desperate need of her father. And to get us here and to get
us to this place, I want to
take us back to the beginning of your story and my story
and we’re just going to like
get a little bit of Genesis. And so we know in Genesis
that God spoke, he spoke
everything into being. These things that you
and I love to go see. The creatures, the mountains
where he drew the line in the sand, the waters can’t
cross, he just spoke them. We save up so much money
to go see these things with our own eyes cause we
can’t believe it, right? These amazing things
that God spoke. But you and I were
made very different. And Genesis 2:7, it
says, “Then the Lord God
formed the man of dust.” So as I’ve been meditating
on this scripture, I feel
like he gave me this visual. I saw God kind of getting
down and rolling back his
sleeves, so to say, and picking up the most insignificant
thing, He made the most
significant thing to him. And it was this slow
process of making Adam. There was no rush in God. He wasn’t looking at anything
and measuring it up to only he
made him in his image, right? The image of the Trinity. And it was joyful
for him to make Adam. And I feel like the Lord showed
me that as close as he was to Adam when he made Adam’s
eyes, he could see his own
reflection in his eyes. The number one truth for
you, there’s two truths
with your identity. The number one is that
you are hand made by God. How many of you handmade
a gift for Christmas? That’s amazing. In the Gilstrap home,
we Amazon primed everything. Praise God. That is how my
children got gifts. But when you hand make
something, there’s a lot of blood, sweat, and tears and
time that goes into that, right? And when you give said handmade
gift to someone, you make sure to tell them,
“This is homemade.” Am I right? You want them to know
that, “I love you.” But when you receive
this, you also know,
“I’m really special and I’m not going to eat this
all in one sitting because I can’t just go buy it
again and I’m not going to just wear this anywhere
because it’s not mass produced. There was time that went
into this and love.” You are hand made by God and
maybe you’ve heard that before. Maybe you know that in your
head, but there’s a difference
of knowing it in your heart. Amen. There’s 18 inches between
your head and your heart
and how often we lose a truth from our
father on the way down. So you were handmade by God. The second part of your
identity is the second
half of this verse where it says, “And God
breathed into his nostrils
the breath of life.” The word identity in Greek
is the word psuche and it means the direct
aftermath of God breathing
his breath into a soul. I want to say that
one more time for you. The word identity means
the direct aftermath of
God breathing his breath of life into a soul, identity. You were known in heaven
before you were known on earth. You were known by God the
father before you ever
were known by your parents. Your identity was given
to you the moment he saw
fit to bring you here. Heaven to earth. This means it doesn’t matter
if you’re a miss or misses. It doesn’t matter if you
have children or not. It doesn’t matter your
social media influence,
how many followers you get, how many likes you get. This means it doesn’t matter
if you have your bachelors, your doctorate, your masters,
how far up you are in your job. None of these things
compare to being a daughter. Nothing is greater and
higher and bigger and
stronger than being a daughter of the King of Kings. And when we fall back into
this alignment and we pray out of this position of being
a daughter of the heavenly
father, everything changes. Your family changes, your
marriage changes, your narrative
changes, your thoughts change. Your motherhood changes. Your every day changes when
you pray as a daughter. So how do we lose this? If this is in our
DNA, what happens? Well, life happens, right? And we begin to feel much more
like the handiwork of life
than the handiwork of God. You start living out of
what someone spoke over you at 13 years old, you
start living out of
what happened to you. You start living out
of the decisions that
you’ve made, the divorce you had, the disease
that’s been given to you,
you have infertility. You start living out of
the failures you had. Then there’s shame and
there’s all these things
that start to happen to you and the enemy gives you little
lies your whole life until
you step out of alignment. And then over here you start
to build your own identity. We start looking at the culture
and we start looking at the
world and they tell you got to work and you got to push
anybody out of the way who tries to take your spot and you
need to work to get full and
you need to present yourself in this beautiful way
and cover up these things
until you’re just a shell. And this is common and this
is normal, then may this not be our natural because
we are not just natural,
we are supernatural. Over here you have to
work to get full, but here you have been given fullness
in the very beginning
upfront by the grace of God. When the first time heaven
came down by Jesus dying on the
cross for your sins, adopting you as a daughter,
you have been given it in full. Your identity,
psuche is exactly who you are. I spent 15 years of my life
trying to figure this out. And I have such a fire in
me because I don’t want
you to spend too long. And I searched for this in
sports, in scholarships, and I searched for this
need of identity in
music and secular music. And I searched written
very toxic relationships. And by the grace of God,
when I was 21, I found
my way back to him. And I finally was able
to get engaged with my husband, Griffin, which is a
whole nother sermon in itself. But for those of you who
know my husband, he’s on
staff here, he’s incredible. He is literally everything
that I’ve ever dreamed of. His faith is steadfast and
he has the most amazing
dimples in the world. So true, just love them. But then I’m living this
really awesome life. I’m married to a pastor, I’m
serving, I’m leading worship, I mentoring all these girls,
but I’m still feeling this. You can be a Christian
and still be missing this. And so then I said, “Well
Griffin, you need to fix me? You’re a pastor, pastor me. Fix this in me, help me.” But while I love that
man, and it is my honor to be his wife, my highest
identity is not being his wife. But I didn’t know that,
so then I said, “Well,
let’s have a baby.” Two daughters in, I’m up
to my eyeballs in sleepless
nights and diapers. Can you raise your hand
knowing that motherhood
is not your identity? Oh no, no. It is the gospel every
day laying down yourself. It is the happiest and holiest
thing I’ve ever done in my
life, but it is not my identity. And so it’s 2015 and I am about
to break because I’m still
feeling this deep inside of me. And our church had a
worship night and it was a Tuesday night and
I went expectant,
needing God to show up. And it was a great
night of worship, but I didn’t have this amazing
kind of magical feeling moment. And I turned to leave. I was way back there all
the way in the back and my dear friend Joy…
I said I wasn’t going to cry… Whether it was on purpose or
spontaneous, she started singing
this song and it stopped me dead in my tracks and I
fell to my knees. Why? Because when I was
13 years old on all the nights, I didn’t feel
brave enough to go run
into my parents’ fights. I would hit my cassette player
and I would play this song
and sing myself to sleep. They have never sang this
song at this church before. And in that moment I heard the
Lord say, “You’re my daughter
and I’m coming after you.” He loves you too much to
leave you where you are. Doesn’t matter where you
are in this room tonight. He wants to take all the
places in you that you feel
like the handiwork of life. And he wants to say,
“Okay, we’re going
to work on this right now because I see
you like this.” And he wants to take all the
ways that you feel like you’re
not good enough and he wants to sift you and prune
you and revive you and
show you who you are. Show you how he sees you. And when you pray out of this
spot, out of this identity,
his kingdom comes down. His kingdom will come down
in your everyday ordinary
life when you pray. And his will will be done. When you’re in the car
line, when you’re at the grocery store, when you’re
making dinner, when you’re
serving your children, when you’re loving your husband,
the mundane moments become
Holy moments, Holy moments in your life when you approach him as a daughter to the
father, all in. And when you go all in with
him, you start living from
love instead of for love. And you start living
from acceptance rather than for acceptance,
from affirmation instead of for affirmation and
from identity instead
of for an identity. And that’s in word, daughter. And when one woman
comes and prays as a
daughter, very powerful. When two or three women pray
as a daughter to the father,
it says he’s there and it is strong, but a room
full of a thousand women
coming together to pray to the father as a daughter,
it is absolutely unstoppable.
Amen? Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done on
earth as it is in heaven.

Jerry Heath

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