God’s Love in the Process of Getting a Permit for NYC

Hello Everyone,

My heart is filled with joy as I write about this day, realizing that it is a day I will never forget with God, a special day where He, my Father, my Comforter, my best Friend, and my “Everything”, has shown His love for me. It has been emotional. Even now as I write about it, the joy fills up my eyes with tears, because I am still amazed and sit in awe and wonder of such a deep Love for me.

It really doesn’t make sense. It would make sense if He had seen me loving Him a little, years ago when I was in the country music industry, and said, “Well, she loves Me a little. She loves music a little more and seems to be living for it, but that is fine with Me. I am happy having her love me a little. That is good enough for Me.” But, no, that was not God’s attitude toward me at all. He amazingly said, “She loves music and her songwriting more than she loves Me. So, I am going to orchestrate things for her to love ME more.” (I am crying as I write it).

It would have made more sense for Him to look at me and see that there was really not anything in me “worth” loving and for Him to not care that much. It would make sense for Him to see me as a sinner, bent towards doing my own thing and really wanting to live for myself and just leave me alone. That would have made sense. Or for Him to be contented having a little bit of me, but not really wanting me CLOSE with ALL that I had to give. But, HE LOVED ME TOO MUCH. He said, “Come to Me. I want you to love Me more than music, fame, your plans, your reputation. I love you… and I want you to love Me more.” That makes no sense. But, still, not in audible words, but by His Holy Spirit, this is what God said.

So, years passed, and I met Him down on my knees, often like some childish spoiled brat wanting to live my own way, BEGGING Him to give me a music career (realizing deep down—which He could see—that without the music, I did not think I would be worth much in this world—it was as if the music career was a panacea for happiness, needing people to approve of me). He wouldn’t let it happen. He loved me too much.

But, He did allow many publishing deals and production deals. In the process of meeting Him down on my knees and memorizing Scripture to just help me through the lonely days when I was not getting my own way, back when He had me working jobs which I loathed to make ends meet, He did something beautiful—He made me love Him more. He did it. I didn’t. He got me to the place where my greatest thrill was telling someone about Him. He got me to the place where that was all that really thrilled my soul.

He wouldn’t let me have anything else but Him it seemed, other than family and a few friends. The road to the Academy Awards and Grammys was far away from my lonely apartment rooms where I would meet Him down on my knees pouring out my heart to Him. Before long, I would sing HIM the hymns He had me singing as I was growing up in churches, and I would feel Him with me down on my knees. It was joy that no Grammy award could offer me.

Who can cheer the heart like Jesus
By His presence all divine
True and tender pure and precious
Oh how blessed to call Him mine

All that thrills my soul is Jesus
He is more than life to me
And the fairest of ten thousand
In my blessed Lord I see

Hymns, such as that, I would sing to God, and for the last few years—since 2001 when I left the entertainment business and left songwriting far behind, the songwriting and singing that used to be an idol of my heart (in hindsight)—I thought that the only Person who would ever hear me sing is God, other than a few churches who ask me to come and share my testimony from time to time. Some moments of singing to the lost in street ministry were powerful, as I could tell the music would touch people. I have sung softly to a lost person every now and then out at the booth locations with the theological lyrics of the hymns and the soulful melodies to match the passion of the music, and I could tell the Holy Spirit would work through the music. But, other than that, I have just been singing to the Lord in my prayer times since 2001. Since I moved to NYC people have stopped me and total strangers have told me that I look artistic and say I look like I am an actress or something. I would just smile and tell them what I am doing now and express the joy I have in getting to tell people about Jesus! With every such comment God has known all along how much I have missed the arts and how I love to share about my life and His love through music. “It is no big deal,” I would tell myself whenever someone would ask, “Are you artistic?” And I would whisper to God, “I love You more than the music.” And so it has been day after day, ever since I have been in the ministry of apologetics full time since the summer of 2002.

Well, just to show me how faithful He is, today He did something new, just like the Bible says He does.

I walked into the office of the City of New York where the street vendors go to get permits. I told the receptionist, “Hi, I need a permit to set up alongside Central Park right across from Columbus Circle, where the people are setting up to sell their art and photography, and I am going to be giving things away—I will be having conversations with people about Jesus and answering questions based on the Bible, and everything will be free of charge, and no donations will be solicited, and when the people come over they can talk to me about anything and have Bibles and brochures about how to be saved or books or articles free of charge.” The receptionist said, “Ok, have a seat. Someone will be right with you.”

Within five minutes a woman came out and asked, “The person with the table alongside Central Park ? Where is the person who wants the table alongside Columbus Circle ?” I said, “Oh, hi! That is me.” I walked over and wasted no time to summarize what I will be doing, emphasizing that no donations would be solicited, and everything would be free. She said, “Well, you can fill out an application, but you probably won’t get approved.” I said, “I won’t get approved. Why?” She said, “Because you have to be an artist to set up where you want to set up.” (That was the special place God had given me with the parking right across the street for 11.00, so I felt very strongly that this place is where He wanted me to set up).

Well, without a moment of hesitation I answered, “I am an artist! I write songs, and I sing, and I have taken acting classes right here in NYC, and there is no person in NYC more artistic than I. I am an artist. I will have my CDs on the table of songs I have written.” She hesitated. She responded, “Well, ok, if you are an artist. Those are ‘First Amendment’ spots for artistic expression.” I said, “Well, please consider me for the ‘First Amendment’ permit, because I am an artist.” She said, “Well, there is no charge for that if you are an artist, but you have to have your art on the table.” I said, “Well, I will have the Bibles and everything else, but I promise also to have music CDs of my songs.” She said unconvincingly, “Well, ok.” I said, “I will bring you a music CD tomorrow of some songs I have written and recorded right here in NYC last July.” She said, “Ok, well I will consider it then.” I told her I would be back tomorrow with a music CD of some songs I have written.

All of these songs I am giving the woman are about Jesus and my life from a perspective of knowing Him. Pray that we will get the permit, based on this, and that God will use the music as a vehicle to give out all of our books and Bibles and articles and CDs and tapes about the Lord!! I go back tomorrow. The receptionist wants a copy of my music CD, too.

As I was leaving the office, I was shocked that God has arranged this permit process so that the music He has given me has to be there at the table, too. Even if the CDs are made available for free for people, it was like God was letting me know that He is now ready to use my creativity in song for His glory. He wants the songs to be a part of the ministry in NYC to the extent that if it were not for my songs, I would not be able to get this permit! (If you would like to hear the songs I have written that I am giving the office of the City of New York tomorrow, just go to the web site at http://www.lightingthewayworldwide.org and click on the “Listening Library” to hear the new songs I wrote and recorded here last July. No ministry funds were used. My mother actually funded the project, because she wanted the songs to be recorded and heard).

I walked home on the busy sidewalks singing softly to the Lord a song written by a former homosexual, Dennis Jernigan, who is now married with a houseful of children:

There is a fountain who is a King
Victorious warrior and Lord of everything

I walked a little further and said, “God, this is what I always wanted. You knew my heart back when I was spending time on Music Row in Nashville , and You knew that all I really ever wanted was for my music to be a vehicle of leading others to You. That was my heart’s desire all along.” Scenes flashed through my mind from that season when I was working in country and pop genres of music—times when I knew I was different from the people around me, because of Jesus… and I thought about all the work God did to make me love Him more than fame and fortune. I continued to sing to Him softly as I walked along the busy New York City sidewalk:

My Rock my shelter
My very own
Faithful Redeemer
Who reigns upon the throne

By the time I was done, I was bawling, and I tried to hide my face so as not to be conspicuous, slipping off to the walls of the sidewalk with my heart moved to tears. He had given me back something I had given to Him—except it was still His, and it was no longer mine. The music has no hold on me anymore. I had never dreamed He would use it ever again for anyone other than Himself in my prayer times! I had put it down, to never take it up again, deciding to live only for Him. Well, now He is impressing upon me through His Holy Spirit and circumstances, be sure to have the music on the table. Remember, I made you an artist, and you have to be an “artist” now with the songs you have written at the booth where you will have the Bibles and be telling people how to love Me and how to know Me as Savior and Lord and King and Master and the Lover of their Souls.



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