When Heaven Came to the Rez

March 27, 2015

Recently Julie and I loaded up our modern day Conestoga wagon and headed out to parts unknown. We paraded through the tourist lined streets of Fredricksburg. We precariously survived the oil patch around Pecos. We searched anxiously for encounters of the alien kind in Roswell. Then, on to Durango where we hiked the mountain trails and felt the warmth of hot spring water flowing right from the ground. Our next destination was Moab, Utah. We arrived just in time to make camp and explore the downtown area. Bright and early the next morning, we saddled up our white jeep “Betsy,” and following the advice of one of the locals, we excitedly entered into the Schafer Trial We were totally unprepared to experience the magnitude of God’s immense and breath-taking creation. Even now with the utmost honor I say, “Oh my God.”

The sheer rock faces stretching towards the sky to our right and the beautiful Colorado River canyon to our left reduced our language to one single word… “Wow.” We climbed pristine sand stone formations. We gawked at the high mountains stretching farther than our eyes could see. Very cautiously, we peeked over the “Thelma and Louise” cliff as we were reminded, cars really can’t fly. Behind us, any semblance of a road had disappeared hours ago and honestly it felt as though we were on another planet. The surroundings seemed lonely and desolate yet hauntingly beautiful. Just as we thought that our journey couldn’t have been any more thrilling, we entered the land of the switchback trials. Looking back I am sure even our donkey would balk at the challenge of the narrow and winding trail that lay before us. Deceptively, the barely jeep-wide trail lured us in until it was much too late to turn back. At one point Julie was pressed against the mountainside door and I am pretty sure I heard her praying and singing, “You make me brave, You make me brave, You make me brave!” I love my wife so much. She is brave and adventuresome and fun and she makes me laugh. She’s my best friend. Before we put Moab in our rear view mirror, I need to tell you at one point during our journey I was so overcome by the beauty and the immensity of what we saw that I choked back tears as I asked this age old question, “God…how big are you?”

With permanent smiles sculpted on our faces, we sadly said goodbye to Moab and pressed deeper into northern Utah. The main reason we embarked on this journey is that we were invited to be part of a prophetic team. Seven of us from Texas were asked to come and minister at a Native American Reservation in northern Utah. The commonality of our team wasn’t found in a church or an organization but rather in obedience to our Lord’s command to love. Our assignment was to teach and to equip, to encourage and give direction as well as to untangle a couple of balls of twine along the way. But as always, our main assignment was to love. All the people we met were so easy to love. They are kind and generous and loving and humble and fun to be with. They are honoring, quick to listen and quick to respond and they love to laugh. Looking into their eyes was like opening a aged storybook that spoke of so many heartaches but as well, so much joy. I am amazed at the depth of life and hope that lives in the heart of these people.

Our gathering drew Pastors and leaders not only from Utah, but from California, Colorado, Oklahoma and Arizona. I was surprised at so many different tribes represented among us, Ute, Navajo, Hopi, Kiowa, Comanche to name a few. I was reminded of the words from the “New Song” sung in Revelation that says, “…every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”                       

Mealtime was the best time for listening and sharing stories and really becoming immersed in the families and culture of our new found friends. The stories they tell are amazing and it is so much fun to laugh with these people. During the meetings we experienced traditional songs of worship in their native tongue, encouraging words, inspiring Spirit filled, Bible based teaching. However, our team did encounter a few mountain size challenges but all my wife could say on the trip home, about a million times I might add, was “Thank you God, thank you God, thank you God.” Our Papa God is so much bigger than any mountain we ever face! So…just one quick testimony and I will let you go. During the Friday night meeting, one of our team members, in obedience to Holy Spirit went forward and knelt before the leaders. Standing in the place of our forefathers, he repented for not honoring the Native American people, he repented for the lies, the broken contracts and for stealing their land, he repented for forcing their children into boarding schools, he repented for stealing their culture and destroying their way of life.

“Will you forgive us?” he asked the leaders. Then turning and addressing each and everyone, he said, “Will you forgive us.” Overwhelmingly, through tear filled eyes, the response of each and every one, young and old was, “Yes, we forgive you.” Even as I write this I can’t hold back the tears. In that one moment it was as if time stood still and the Lord Himself washed away the stains of many generations of devastating heartache and pain. Jesus truly is the Way, the Truth, the Life. There was not a dry eye in the entire building as pastors and leaders fell to their knees and mournfully wept with tears of healing, tears of freedom, tears of joy. Just like Jericho, the walls came down that night. Praise God!

Now, if you can imagine this…picture the floodgates of heaven opening up over that place…”Oh wow!” I will leave the rest to your own imagination but imagine what freedom looks like. Imagine what a bright light looks like as it invades the darkness. Imagine what love looks like! Listen…can you hear the sounds of freedom? I will tell you, it’s really loud and exuberant and thankful and joyful! This was a day when heaven came to the Rez! Please join me in shouting…

Thank you God! Thank you God! Thank You God!

Peace be with you. Jeff