As I’ve become more familiar with God’s heart and seen what life was intended to look like with Jesus as our King, I’ve noticed a holy discontentment stirring inside me. I look around at this fallen planet, and instead of seeing the peace and goodness and joy of the Lord we were created to know, the intimacy with God and one another, I see people—even Christ-followers—living in bondage to the lies of the enemy, that deceptive, defeated foe. I sense God is calling His people to liberate the captives by going into territory that the enemy no longer has authority over but has yet to surrender. And that’s how I see myself—as a person ready and willing to go into the darkness and, by God’s grace, bring the light of Christ to those He loves.
Matthew 11:12 says, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful people lay hold of it.” Or as another version says, people take it by force. I think this means that Jesus wants His planet back—the one He created, then purchased on the cross, but it has to be forcefully taken by those who know it rightfully belongs to their King.
In my life, God often uses what begins as holy discontent about life on this planet to create in me a holy desperation to see people set free and stepping into their destiny… until I’m forced to employ holy habits (like prayer and listening to God, and realigning my mind and attitudes to those of Christ…again and again), so that I become preoccupied with Him and His ways. And when this happens, over time I see what I’m longing for—holy outcomes.
One of the most striking and vivid examples of this happened in the 80s. At the time I was teaching at a Christian primary school, but though I loved the kids and teachers, I sensed the Lord was moving me on, and sure enough, that year He led me to accept a teaching position in a high school on the outskirts of LA. This was a large school with 2500 racially diverse students—a place with several gangs where kids sometimes brought guns to campus. One year, two of my students were shot and killed. Imagine the shock to my system (and the huge learning curve!) I experienced going from a small Christian primary school to a large, inner city public high school. But knowing that God had led me there made me willing to go.
The only problem was that the first year, instead of feeling like God’s warrior, I felt timid, intimidated, and overwhelmed. I didn’t know how to walk in partnership with God in a place that was so dark and dangerous. I knew that when God gives an assignment, He gives the spiritual authority and anointing to get the job done. But we have to learn how to walk in that authority and anointing day-by-day, to appropriate and activate what God has put within us and around us—His invisible Kingdom realities. That first year, I couldn’t even stop a fight in own my classroom when students started punching each other; I had to run next door to get a male teacher to come and break up the fight.
In the midst of feelings of deficiency and frustration, holy desperation set in, yet the one thing I knew how to do was pray. So everyday as I drove the 20 minutes from my home to the campus, I prayed—for the kids (I had 150 students—kind of like having my own small church!) and that God’s presence would be palpable in my classroom; I prayed that God would give me the courage and wisdom to be effective with my students so that these kids whom Jesus loved and died for would be touched by a teacher who loved them, too—someone who was ready to tell them about the Lover of their souls, even at a secular high school.
Holy habits continued to develop until eventually I was praying over each desk as I walked around my classroom in the mornings before the students arrived. And as I cried out to God, He began to give me divine strategies.
One thing He led me to do was call in the infantry—two prayer-warrior friends who came on campus with me one Saturday. One of them shared how the climate of the campus could be changed as I claimed by faith what God promises His people in Isaiah 35:8, which says He will give us a land to dwell in where parched deserts will be filled with joy, “and a highway will be there; it will be called the Highway of Holiness.” She explained that just like the LORD promised Joshua that He would be given every place he set his foot in the land the Lord had assigned to him, so this was the land that God was giving me, and as I walked around the campus, I could claim it for the Lord and see it changed.
So I started to do this and began envisioning that as I walked around, the ground under my feet became a holy highway (much like the yellow brick road in the Wizard of Oz), a place where God’s peace and love, God’s Kingdom light and truth would prevail. And slowly, new confidence and boldness filled my heart.
In fact, after we began to pray together, I started seeing everything differently. And as I began believing the Lord was giving me this land, I started behaving like the land belonged to the Lord and me, and things began to change.
As I prayed that the Lord would help me bring Him more overtly into the classroom, I told the kids that our classroom would be like a little piece of heaven—that in our class, we would respect each other, listen to each other, and love each other. We became like family: we learned everyone’s name and always greeted one another whenever we saw anyone in our “family” on campus. In fact, the office told me that whenever they wanted to talk to a student, they’d wait until the period they were in my class to send for them, because no one ever cut my class.
Interestingly, the authority I learned to carry in the natural realm began transferring to the spiritual realm as I saw that just like I’d been given delegated authority by the State of California, the School District, and the high school administration, so I’d been given delegated authority by God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit to rule and subdue His earth—which not only included my classroom, but the entire campus.
When one of my students was killed in a drive-by shooting, the Lord gave me the boldness to call every gang member I knew into my class, to cry and grieve with them, then make them promise that they would not retaliate. In fact, I told them I would sit there all day if necessary until they promised that no more blood would be shed, because my heart couldn’t take losing another student I loved. Eventually they all promised, and indeed, there was no retaliation or violence after that incident.
That was when I realized that walking in God’s authority on that campus was literally a life-and-death matter for these kids—both now and for eternity!
I began to see many holy outcomes as the kids not only got a good education, but many decided they were smart enough to go to college. My students began hanging out in my classroom asking questions about Jesus, and some came to know Him as their Savior and Lord. I learned so much about partnering with God on that campus and walking in His delegated authority that by the fourth year I was there, I could actually walk into the middle of a fight in the quad where 100 kids had gathered to watch two students try to kill each other, and as the kids saw me coming, they’d make a path for me to walk through so that when I got to the people who were fighting, they stopped when they saw me. I could break up a fight because God’s love and presence and peace and justice accompanied me wherever I went.
Every ministry (and job) assignment God gives us is a call to worship and warfare as God positions us strategically to take His world back—giving us passions, dreams, vision for the future, and experiences that enable us to carry His authority and advance His Kingdom in our sphere of influence.
So let me leave you with these questions. First, where are you experiencing holy discontent in your life? Could it be God’s invitation for you to join Him in something new that He wants to do in and through you? And what “land” is God giving you? Where is He asking you to “plant your feet” to see His Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven? He will give you the authority and anointing needed to get the job done as you partner with Him to take the earth back for the King.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Myra Perrine and her husband, Dan, live in Redding, CA. With a passion for intimacy with God, Myra holds a Doctor of Ministry in Spiritual Formation. She has worked with Church Resource Ministries (CRM) since 1996 coaching leaders around the world, and is the author of several books: What’s Your God Language? Connecting with God Through Your Unique Spiritual Temperament (Tyndale, 2008), What’s Your God Language? Coaching Guide, A Companion Workbook of Spiritual Exercises for What’s Your God Language? and Becoming One: Nurturing Spiritual Intimacy in Marriage.
This post was originally shared in September 2016.