"No dog needs to stay trapped inside four walls," was his quick reply. His plan to escape the approaching frigid nights was non existent. "I make it, I always do. Stop trying to teach an old dog new tricks."
My heart began to quicken as I remembered the cold winds that beat against my warm room a year ago. But as I prayed for Ezekiel, I felt Jesus begin to whisper in my ear, "The problem is not the geography of this man, the issue is his mistaken identity." Ezekiel could only see himself as a dog, long forgotten and easily thrown outside when they become a mess. As I listened to more of his story of violence and incarceration I could hear it more desperately between every line. This man had no idea who Jesus was calling him to be. Ezekiel in the bible was a mighty man of God and a prophet, yet the Ezekiel in front of me was running as far from God as possible.
That's when it hit me. If the enemy can circumstantially define you, then you become your situation. All he knew was rejection and the act of being cast out and forgotten. When I shared with him God's desire to call him a son it was as if he was on the outside looking in.
Even several days later I couldn't shake my interaction with Ezekiel. As I began to ask Jesus why I was so shaken, He began to ask me my name. I know I am Ashley Ruffin and I know that I belong to the Most High God, but do I feel as if I belong inside the House of the Lord. Am I a daughter by service or am I a daughter by sacrifice, His sacrifice because He found me worthy. We had someone share at church recently and he made the comment, "If you are working for God then you are an Old Testament Concubine hoping to rub up against the edge of His glory every once in awhile, but if you know Him intimately, then you are His bride." As I began to raise the question in my own heart I realized, though I did not see myself as dog, cast out in the cold, I am not sure I would look in the mirror and see a daughter or a bride.
“My beloved spoke, and said to me: “Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away.”
Song of Solomon 2:10
God's desire for me is to love Him first, to Rise up out of my circumstance, my situation and come away with Him. There are a million ways to be a slave and work for Him, but the one way to be a bride is to love Him. Everything else flows from a relationship of loving Him and coming away with Him. Every time I answer the door, work in the coffee shop or love on one of our kids, it comes from secret place inside His heart. God didn't create us for the outside world, gazing in at the dreams He has for others. He created us to fit so perfectly inside His heart where we love, laugh, and learn how to be a daughter and a bride. My prayer for myself, my team, and everyone reading this, is that we come in from the cold, that we sit beside our Beloved and begin to know His heart. He never created us for service, He created us for Worship.