Several years ago I was asked to lead worship at an evangelism conference in Albuquerque. There were many things about this assignment that made it special for me. First, my close friend and gifted Bible teacher Wayne Barber was pastor there at the time, and I knew I’d get to spend some time with him. Also, my friend and mentor Jim Shaddix was speaking at the conference, and to top it off, one of my partners in ministry and co-writer of many songs, Luke Garrett, was there as well. The other part I was so excited about was that I would be working with Anne Graham Lotz, leading worship before she spoke twice during the conference. I knew I was in for a special time!
I had read several of Anne’s books through the years and heard her speak on television and radio several times. I’ve always been blessed by the profound teaching gift God has given to Anne and intrigued by the experiences of the daughter of the great evangelist, Billy Graham.
But I wasn’t ready for this.
Anne really only has one message. In every conference and every conversation, one recurring truth permeates her words. As I listened, that message was coming through to me loud and clear. Then, in the evening session, Anne spoke from her book I Saw the Lord. This message centers on Isaiah’s vision outlined in Isaiah 6. She went on to describe her own experience of “seeing the Lord, high and lifted up” and the life change that brought to her. When she finished speaking, she wrote something in the front of the copy of her book she read from that night and before I knew it, her assistant had pressed it into my hand. I opened the cover to find a message for me from Anne, thanking me for my partnership in the ministry of the conference.
Several days later, I was in my home study and I took out the book she had given me. My wife had read her own copy of the book several years before, and I remember reading parts of it as well. But that morning I dug into the central truth of Anne’s life and of that book. The only way to know God is to see—to really know and experience—the person of Jesus Christ.
And though I had been a Christian for many years, on that day—for the first time in a long time—I wanted to see Jesus.
I remember asking the Lord to give me a right view of who he really is—to show me what Isaiah saw and what Anne was talking about. It wasn’t long before I found myself on my knees, crying out to him for his forgiveness, for his fresh mercy and grace in my life. I stayed there for hours, eventually calling my assistant and asking her to clear my day. I could barely walk out of the room.
It was my own miniature version of Isaiah 6. To be sure, nothing I experienced that day was a result of my spirituality. I am ashamed to say that sin I had never thought about before came right to the surface that morning. I’m equally ashamed to say that even now, my own flesh often keeps me from walking in full view of Christ every day. But this much I learned that day: only when I have a right view of who Jesus is—his holiness, his righteousness, his glory, his love—can I walk in the power of his Spirit, and see myself and the world around me the way he does. Then and only then can I truly worship “in Spirit and in truth,” as described in John 4:24.
In Isaiah 6 we see the marks that accompany a genuine vision of who Jesus is—
Could it be that we are seeing more expression, more music, more energy, more talent, more technology, more strategy, more skill, and more of everything else you can think of—but less Jesus?
As Anne Graham Lotz says in I Saw the Lord, “One of the lasting impacts of personal revival is that it has made a difference in my life. I not only listen to the voice of Jesus and apply His words to my life, but I live for Him alone. I am so caught up in who He is and what He has done for me that I no longer consider my life my own. My life is laid down at His nail-pierced feet, totally available for His use. Anytime. Anywhere. Anyway. The supreme joy of my life is to be available to Him.”3
Does your “Jesus” require that of you?