Lysa TerKeurst – Liberty University Convocation
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Lysa TerKeurst – Liberty University Convocation

December 9, 2019


>>LYSA TERKEURST: Well thank you. It is an
honor and a joy to be with you today. We’re just gonna focus on one verse, and this one
verse is easy to find but I want to tell you that there is no shame in going to the table
of contents of your Bible. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in church before and the
pastor says “turn to first Hemezingaziah” and, you know, you start sweating because
everyone else, their Bible just whoom, just falls right there. And we don’t want to have
anyone sweating today so if you have your Bible you can go to the table of contents
and you look and you see Old Testament, New Testament. We’re actually gonna be in the
book of Matthew, and our one verse — and it’s awesome because I couldn’t have made
it any easier, Matthew is actually right at the beginning of the New Testament. And in
my Bible, it’s page 806 that we’re gonna be. Matthew chapter five, verse eight. And if
you would, stand up for the reading of this, God’s holy, amazing Word. Matthew 5:8 says
this, in my version of the Bible, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
If you would, say it with me. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
One more time, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” And you may have a
seat, thank you so much. The reason that I love this verse and the
reason why we’re gonna park ourselves on this verse is because I think sometimes, as Christians,
we get stuck in our relationship with God being more of — like a Christian checklist.
Be nice, listen to Christian music, don’t cuss, pray, read your Bible, and all those
things are fantastic, and they’re good, and they’re wonderful. But just because you do
the Christian checklist does not mean that you’re gonna have an experience with God,
a relationship with God. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Not
that we can see God, not that we can see His physical form, not that we can lay our physical
eyes and, and really see God with our physical eyes, we won’t be able to do that until the
other side of glory, but blessed are the pure in heart for they shall experience seeing
God’s hand move and redirect and interrupt and call and propel. Indeed, “Blessed are
the pure in heart for they shall see God.” But that pure in heart part trips up a person
like me, because I’m a bit messy. I live in kind of a crazy way sometimes, I have great
desires to serve God all out and yet I know the reality of how frail and fragile and sometimes
chaotic I really am. But I love that it doesn’t say, “blessed is the perfect person, for they
will see God.” It doesn’t say that. It doesn’t say, “blessed is only the students who make
all straight-As.” It doesn’t say that! Now blessed are the students who make straight-As,
indeed, but blessed are the B and the C and the D and Heaven help us but the F students
too, right? I mean, blessed are, not the perfect person, but blessed is that person who wakes
up every day and desires to see God. And are we to bring our best to God? Absolutely.
Are we to strive for holiness? Absolutely. But the Scriptures do not say “blessed is
that perfect person, for only they will experience God. It says, “Blessed is the pure in heart,
for they will see God.” Blessed is that man, blessed is that woman, blessed is that person.
Who just wakes up every day and says, “God, I want to see You today. God, I want to hear
You today. God, I want to know You today, so that I can follow hard after You. And before
I even know what’s about to happen in my day today, I just want to position my heart in
a place to say ‘yes’ to You today. God, I want to see You, hear You, know You, so I
can follow hard after You. And God, I say ‘yes.'” Blessed, blessed is that pure in heart person.
For when you desire to see God and hear God and know God and follow hard after God and
say “yes” to God, yes you do the things on the Christian checklist but that isn’t where
you stop! That’s just a starting place, for you have a passion to experience God in a
way that will make your heart come alive, and that’s what it means to have a relationship
with God. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see, see, see God.” It was an
ordinary day in the life of my family. I woke up and I looked at my three little girls,
they were ages 9, 8, and 4. And, and I said “today, we’re gonna do this special field
trip,” if you will. I haven’t really ever felt like I quite attained the level of perfection
that some moms attain. You know, some moms are amazing. They like feed their kids all
organic stuff, and that’s awesome and amazing but I hold up my chicken nugget, macaroni
and cheese life up to, up to the organic status and I don’t feel like I measure up, right? And then some moms, you know, they sit down
and they have family devotions every day, and I think that’s amazing and awesome and
wonderful, and I would love to do that. But sometimes I sit down with my kids to have
family devotions, and this one licks this one’s waffle, and I think, “What is wrong
with you people? Why would you do that?” Now I don’t want to do family devotions, I want
to hurt somebody, you know? And, and we never get to the family devotion because I get all
distracted and I’m sending everybody to their room, and then it’s just me and I can’t do
family devotions with just me. And so I’m frustrated cause I look and I compare myself
and I think “I don’t quite measure up.” But on this day, I thought “I’m gonna measure
up, because we’re going on a field trip!” And that’s gonna be a good mom status symbol
for me for sure. And so I tell my kids “today we’re going to the Liberian boys acapella
choir concert.” And it’s gonna be great because we’re gonna get some culture, we’re gonna,
you know, they’re singing at this little church right down the road from us, it wasn’t our
church, it was just another church. But I think “this is great, we’re gonna get some
culture, we’re gonna go on a field trip.” So let’s pull out a world map and let’s identify
where Liberia is. Now Mommy knows because it ends in I-A, ia, it sounds Spanish, so
let’s look in South America. And we looked and looked and looked and looked and looked
and my oldest daughter who was 9 at the time said “mom, I’m pretty sure Liberia’s on the
West coast of Africa.” “I know, I’m just making sure you’re paying attention, OK?” And so
we get in our car on this ordinary day and we drive into the middle of our ordinary little
town and we walk into the back doors of this ordinary church and we sat down in an ordinary
back pew and then these 12 beautiful boys from the other side of the world, they got
up and they started to sing from the depth of their soul about the joy of the Lord. And
their, their music was beautiful, it was mesmerizing. It was gorgeous. But it was the joy on their
faces that captured my heart, and I thought “wow. I wish I could be as joyful as them.”
And then halfway through the concert, the coordinator of the event got up and started
to share with us the story of why these boys were here. He explained to us that Liberia
had been a war-torn nation for the past 15 years. And that rebel forces had moved into
Liberia and would go from village to village to village killing all of the men and the
women and the older children, leaving the babies to die among their parents’ dead bodies.
Each of these boys that stood before us, ages 11, 12, 13, and 14, they had been those war
babies that had been rescued. A pastor in Liberia found out what was happening and he
started traveling around behind where the rebels had attacked, rescuing these babies.
And he started an orphanage and then another orphanage and then another orphanage. And
as of that moment, there were 25,000 orphans in the very small country of Liberia. And
these boys, these 12 boys had formed a choir and an American consulate had helped get their
paperwork so that they could come to America to tour around in churches to raise money
and raise awareness to help feed the orphans back home. And then the coordinator sat down
and these 12 boys got back up and started to sing again from the depth of their soul
about the joy of the Lord. And I was so challenged. I thought “if today, if everyone that I loved
were taken from me. And if today, every hope for my future was stripped out of my realm
of possibility. And if today, every financial blessing was stolen from me, if all of that
happened to me today, could I still stand up in front of a group of people who have
all those blessings and sing from the depth of my soul about the joy of the Lord and really
mean it?” Could I do that? It’s so easy to sing the songs in church and we mean it, but
do we really mean it? You’re all I want, you’re all I’ve ever needed, really? Really, Lysa?
How easy it is for those words to just tumble out of your mouth and sing with your hands
raised, but do you really mean it? If Jesus was all you had, really all you had, would
your relationship be at a place where He really would be enough? And this is what I’m pondering
as I’m sitting there and I’m listening to the boys sing and I’m pondering these excruciating
thoughts deep in my soul. And suddenly, I felt this pressure, deep, deep within. It
was as if God was whispering straight to my heart, “Lysa, two of those boys are yours.”
And I went “oh, lalalalalalala, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no God, no. No,
no. You see, I think when the GPS coordinate fell from Heaven it landed on me but it was
not supposed to, God. I mean, there’s no way, there’s absolutely no way. Remember God, I’m
the woman who — yeah, remember I had my first baby and she came out in the delivery
room barking orders and smoking a cigar and it was just all a bit overwhelming and so
I went to the doctor and I said to the doctor ‘she is a blessing, she is an amazing blessing,
but she’s all the blessing my husband and I can handle. Like she has blessed us completely,
so we only want to have one baby.’ And then the doctor said ‘no problem, we’ll give you
a test,’ and he came back and he said ‘actually, you’re already having baby number two.’ And
I said ‘no I’m not,’ and he said ‘yes you are,’ ‘no I’m not,’ ‘yes you are.’ And I said
‘well, I’m going to the Walmart for a second opinion.’ And, and then we had baby girl number
two, and then a few years later we had baby girl number three, and I finally figured out
how all that was happening, right? Yeah, so we put things in place, and so yeah, so basically
— I know, I sent my husband to like a special doctor, so anyways. It was, it was awesome
but we were done, like this is all, like we have all the blessing with these three kids,
I cannot possibly have more God. And God I know, I know that’s a great suggestion. That’s
a great suggestion that we would adopt two kids, but we can, we cannot. No, no God, we
cannot do that. We absolutely can’t do that. But I’ll find another way to help these boys.”
But you know, when God speaks to you, He can be very bossy sometimes, right? And so He
just kept whispering “Lysa, two of those boys are yours. Two of those boys are yours. Two
of those boys are yours.” At the end of that concert, I remember stepping into the aisle
with my three little girls and I looked at the back door and I saw the exit sign. And
almost every part of me wanted to run toward that exit door. Because I just, I didn’t want
to be life interrupted. I liked having the kind of faith where I could pretty much strategize
and manipulate everything into being, and I didn’t want a life that actually required
a little bit of faith, I really didn’t. I wanted to call myself a person of faith, I
wanted it to be a label of my life, but I did not want it to be a lifestyle. I did not
want my life to be totally interrupted and to be put in a place where I couldn’t exist
without living by faith. I didn’t want that. And so I looked at that exit door and I wanted
to run out, but there was this other part of my heart, this tiny little part where I’d
been praying “God, I want to see You. God, I want to hear You. God, I want to know You.
God, I want to follow hard after You. And God, I say ‘yes’ to You.” And it was that
part of my heart, that tiny, tiny, tiny bit, that propelled me to walk forward and go talk
to the coordinator. So I walked up to him and I said “not that I’m interested at all,
mind you, at all. But if someone wanted to get more information about these boys, how
could they do that?” And he said “well, just walk over there and meet the boys. If you
walk over there and you meet the boys and — and once you meet them, God will speak
to you. You’ll know exactly how you’re supposed to help them.” And so I grabbed my three little
girls’ hands, and we walk over here to meet the boys, and as I’m walking, I pray a very
honest prayer. I said “God, I am giving You two minutes and I am so out of here, OK?”
And so I walk over there and there were all the boys meeting with all the people of the
church, and two of the boys separated from the crowd. They walked straight up to me,
they wrapped their arms around me and they called me “mom.” And then I had such a situation,
I had to get in the car and call my husband on the cell phone and I’m all like “hey. . . do
we need milk? And oh by the way, there’s two teenage boys from Africa calling me ‘mom.’
I know, right?” My husband’s like “where are you and get home now.” And so I drove home
and I tucked my three little girls into bed and I sat beside my husband and I said “are
— I just have to assure you, I didn’t wake up this morning in the mood to adopt more
kids. Like, I didn’t even know where Liberia was, OK? I, I just — I don’t know what happened
but God. Honestly. Honestly, I don’t know what we’re supposed to do. So our, I’m just
asking if you’ll go hear the boys sing and if you’ll pray about this and I don’t know
how this is gonna play out but — yeah — but if you would just go hear the boys sing and
pray about it and let’s just see what God does. And if you come to me and you say ‘we
are not supposed to do this,’ I’ll be OK with that.” Of course, I’ll get all the blessings
because God will bless me for being obedient and you’ll get some kind of curse or something
like that horrible will happen to you, I don’t know. But if you say “no,” like I will totally
respect that, and yeah. So it’ll be all good. But, but if you say “we are supposed to do
this,” then I’ll take your hand and no matter how hard it gets, I’ll walk out this adventure,
I’ll walk it out with you together as a family. And I never thought my husband would say “yes”
to this craziness of, of adopting these two teenage boys, it didn’t even sound logical,
it didn’t even sound rational, it didn’t even sound reasonable. I was horribly sexually
abused as a child, and when I had three little girls I was so determined to do everything
possible to keep them safe. So the fear and the terror that I felt of bringing in two
older boys into our home, you can imagine. That was just one set of fears that I had.
But God. And I’m not saying this was God’s cookie cutter plan for every Christian, they
should run out and adopt teenage boys from Africa, no not at all. We serve a unique God,
we serve an adventurous God, we serve a God who propels His people and invites His people
to do amazing things alongside of Him, to be obedient in their unique way according
to His invitation for us. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” So
our job is just to start looking for God. How many times do we pray, and we ask God
to reveal Himself to us but we get up from our prayers and we forget to look? We just
forget to look. So we started to look, and everywhere we went, God was right there, revealing
to us that this was His plan. We would be in church and the pastor would be preaching
a very official sermon on Revelation and then all of a sudden he would just go “oh, by the
way, I think I was supposed to talk to you about African children today and I’m not sure
why.” And my husband and I are all like “what?” And we’d be driving down the highway and there’d
be a billboard about African children. We’d turn on the radio, “you should adopt children
from Africa, Africa.” Are you kidding me? “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will
see God.” My husband, he eventually came to me and he said “Lysa, we are supposed to do
this.” So we started the paperwork out of sheer obedience to God. And then it was time
to start telling our friends, you know before we just started showing up places with two
additional children who didn’t look a whole lot like us, but, you know that would be kind
of important and so I was gonna be the speaker in our home church, and so I decided to give
this great message on obedience. And at the very end just say, “and my husband and I,
we’re going on this wonderful obedience adventure and we’re, we’re adopting two teenage boys
from Africa,” and I thought everybody would go “hip, hip, hooray!” and start planning
my teenage boy baby shower, right? Not so much. I gave this message on obedience and
all of our friends just kind of looked at us. And they came up to me afterwards and
they said “what are you thinking? This isn’t safe. This isn’t reasonable. This doesn’t
fit what you’re supposed to do as a family, are you kidding me?” And I understood their
concern because I had those same concerns. So I went home and I told my husband, “don’t
you think if we were really supposed to do this, that our friends would, would support
us?” And he said “Lysa, they haven’t met the boys, they haven’t seen the boys, they don’t
have a vision for this thing that God is calling us to do. Let’s invite these boys, let’s invite
the choir to come and sing at our church and invite all of our friends.” And so that’s
what we did. It was an ordinary Wednesday and people filed in from their ordinary lives
and they sat in their ordinary seats and then these 12 beautiful boys got up and started
to sing, and the extraordinary presence of God fell fresh in that place. And God moved.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. And by the end of that concert, all
those friends who were so concerned, they all came forward and they wanted more information
about these boys. And it was just miraculous, and then we ran out of, out of boys. We had
more families wanting to adopt than we even had boys that were able to be adopted. So
missions trips were sent over to Liberia, and more kids were brought and more kids were
brought, and as of now, there have been over 45 children from that orphanage adopted in
families in our community, praise God, right? Praise God. “Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.” Was it easy? Oh, my heavens, no. One day we ran into Walmart and
it was when our boys first came home. Do y’all have the Walmarts here? Yeah, OK, so I happen
to love Walmart, I love Target too, I don’t discriminate between the two, but anyways
we happened to be in the Walmart this day. And we have — I have all my five kids with
me, and you know they’re all like “mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom.” So we were
a little bit of — kind of like a circus, a little bit like a parade, and this woman
came up to me and she goes “oh. Two different dads?” I did not know what to say to her.
No, I take that back. I did know what to say to her, oh, oh yeah I did. But I’d spent a
little bit of time with Jesus that morning so I reigned it all in. But my youngest daughter,
she stepped right up, she goes “let me susplain it to you. When my mommy was pregnant with
my brudders, she drank chocolate milk.” Alrighty then. But you want to know the beautiful thing
about that? The beautiful thing is, it never occurred to my youngest daughter who was about
4 or 5 at the time, it never occurred to her that I couldn’t be the biological mom of my
boys, and that is a beautiful thing. That is a beautiful thing. So we had our boys academically
tested, and I was like “OK they’re 13 and 14 years old, so that means that they’re almost
ready for high school, so we can do this, we’ve got like four years, we can do anything
for four years, like we can do this. We can get them ready and then go to college, it’s
gonna be great, like we can do this.” And then the academic tests came back. And it
showed that my boys needed to be in kindergarten, and they were no kindergarten classes that
would take boys ages 13 and 14, so our only option was to bring them home, and it was
too complicated to send the girls to school and have the boys homeschooled so we brought
all five of ’em home. And me, the woman who thought she could only handle one child, I
walked out into my kitchen one day, sat down at my sticky farm table in the middle of my
kitchen, and saw five people expecting me to educate them. And all I could think is
“I don’t know how to teach. I’m not very patient, I’m not even nice most days. How is this gonna
work out?” Like this is, this is never gonna work. And so I excused myself from the sticky
farm table and I went and sat in my closet and I cried. That’s all I could do. And I
said “God, I can’t do this! I can’t do this. I can’t do this.” And the Lord whispered deep,
deep, deep within my soul. Not in an audible way, but just like a little revelation “Lysa,
I’m not asking you to accomplish this big task. All I’m asking you to do is be obedient
to me and just show up every day. You show up and you bring that little tiny bit of willingness
that you have and it’ll be enough. You just show up Lysa, and you bring that little tiny
bit of willingness that you have, and it will be enough.” My job is to be obedient to God,
God’s job is everything else, and somebody in the house needs to hear just that this
morning. Your job is to be obedient to God, and God’s job is everything else. If we were
the kind of people who could have all the answers and who could do everything, we wouldn’t
need a Savior! Amen? Amen! And we need a Savior! So just show up. Show up, and bring that little
tiny bit of willingness that you have. And when we bring what’s, what’s possible in our
natural, God will add His super to it and then it becomes supernatural. After two years,
I could not say that I became a fantastic teacher. I can’t say I became patient, I’m
not even saying I was nice during those two years, but I did show up with my little bit
of willingness. Now some days our math lessons looked like “OK kids, go get in the car, we’re
gonna drive around, add up the speed limit signs and that’s gonna be math, cause that’s
all I got, OK” so I cannot say that I ever became like this fantastic teacher, but after
two years, we had our boys tested again and they could get into middle school. And it
was miraculous. And yeah, whoa, when that yellow school bus pulled up in front of my
house and I looked at those five kids and I said “shimmy, shimmy!” Oh, it was a great
day, oh yes it was. I may or may not have done the MC Hammer dance around my kitchen,
OK, right. I won’t demonstrate cause I don’t, I don’t know that I’m allowed to do that here,
right? No, yes, I don’t know. So I won’t demonstrate for sure, no, definitely not. But by the age
of 21, my oldest son Jackson was able to graduate from high school, and we got a letter in the
mail inviting us to the high awards honors ceremony and he had a 2.79 grade point average.
Now last I checked, a 2.79 is awesome, but it doesn’t usually allow you to go to the
high awards honors ceremony, and so I was confused. Why are we invited? But they were
offering this awesome catered breakfast and I was all about the food so I was like “oh,
let’s just go, it’ll be awesome.” And so we went. And all these well-deserving kids, they
got all these wonderful awards, the high honors in English, and the high honors in math and
the high honors in science and Jackson’s name was never called, until the very end. And
the principal stood up and said “we have one last award to be given. It’s actually the
highest award that we give out, every single year. It’s called the administrator’s excelsior
award. And usually the faculty votes on it and gives it to the student that, that has
the highest grade point average or the student that gets the best scholarship or the student
that shows the most promise for their future but this year as we voted we decided that
this year’s award needs to go to the student who displayed the richest amount of character,
in the face of great odds. Jackson TerKeurst, you are this year’s administrator’s excelsior
award winner.” And as I watched that boy walk forward, who just a few years before had been
in a forgotten orphanage in a forgotten country, a forgotten place, I watched him walk forward,
I cried. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” And then this other crazy
part of me wanted to stand up and go “you people, do you know what I had to do to get
him to this place? Somebody better give me an award, I mean, it’s always the mommas help
and it is and somebody — we never get recognized,” but I had spent a little bit of time with
Jesus that morning. So I just sat there and I clapped and I cried because I saw, I saw
God. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” And as I send you out from
this place today, I want you to know this is what God wants you to live, and that you’re
qualified, even if you’re a complete mess like me, right? This is what I love about
our Jesus, the first four letters of Messiah is a mess and that’s OK, and somebody in the
house today needs to say “amen, amen, and amen.” “Blessed are the pure in heart, for
they shall see God.” And all God’s people said “amen.”

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  1. With tears streaming down my face. I loved this! And I get to see God in my patients and life now I've held onto my mustard seed of faith for so long and almost lost it at times but I get to see you and all God's beauty today! Yae!

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