The Healing Place

A couple of years ago, I attended a ladies retreat where there was a tongues and interpretation.  The room was filled with 2000 ladies.  I recall that despite that there were so many women in that room, I knew in my heart of hearts, that the message spoken was for ME.  Of course, when God speaks to the body, the message is for everyone.  Maybe its pride, maybe it’s arrogance, or maybe it was really just something that spoke in my soul that said .. I want this.  I want this message to be mine.  The message spoke of listening, really listening, to the ladies on the stage because God said … they had been to the healing place.

Of course, at the time, I didn’t really know what that meant.  What exactly was the healing place?  Was it a specific location?  Could anyone go there?  Was there a cost to go there?  Where do you even begin? …. So many questions and not many answers left me with a deep-seated desire to get to this place.  Despite that I was Holy Ghost filled and blood bought … despite that I had spent many hours at several alters pouring my heart out to God … despite that I had spent hundreds of hours in prayer … there were still things inside of me that I just couldn’t get away from.  I’m not even sure I can accurately put my finger on it other than to say that there were holes in my heart that hurt.  Things in my life that haunted me that while God knew, I somehow didn’t know how to let go of.  Some people put up walls and call it being free, others put on a smile and hide the hurt, I seemed to be plagued with my hurts seeping through at the altar behind unspoken words and sobs as my soul begged for mercy.  This was a couple of years ago.

I sought pretty hard for God after that.  I wanted the healing place.  I wanted to know what true freedom really is.  I found out that healing and freedom were none of the things I thought they were.  I thought that once I had reached that place, that it would be nirvana.  I thought that I would finally be able to walk around and not feel insecure.  I thought that I would finally be able to feel the joy non-stop instead of continuously having life frustrate me with challenges.  I thought I would always be able to handle every situation with a smile and calm and know that it was real instead of feeling that I was hiding behind a wall of pretense.  Nope … the healing place was none of those things.  Neither is freedom.

We had a guest preacher in today that spoke of the healing place.  He didn’t call it that, but that’s exactly what it was.  I’ve been there now, so I know.  He was talking about the healing place.  It’s the place where we are confronted with all kinds things that we never expected.  It’s the place where we are forced to face some of the most dreaded things in our lives.   It’s the place where you life seems to be falling apart.  It’s the place where you are certain, you can relate with Job.  It’s the place where you find out people will fail you .. even family.  It’s the place where you find the world will fail you.  It’s the place where you find out that yes, the church too will fail you.  It’s the place where you learn …. complete dependence on Jesus.

But it’s not just learning about being let down.  It’s also learning about trust and confidence in God.  Not just in God, but His ability to restore.  His ability to rebuild what He had just torn down.  His ability to work in others and regain your trust in those who may have let you down.  It’s about learning to depend on God for finances and health and trusting that even if it doesn’t look like you thought it should, God’s got it all under His control.  It’s about learning to fear the power of God and not take it for granted.  And somehow, through all of this, at the same time, He pulls you in closer and lets you see HIS heart.  I’m sorry, but if you want to be close to God, there is absolutely no way to do it without jumping in the fire.  You can get close and feel His heat, but until you allow the fire to consume you .. you will never get to the place where you see Him standing in the flames with you.

Please don’t be afraid of the healing place.  Please don’t be afraid or refuse to go through the valley.  If you look at your circumstances and think you might be there, please be encouraged.  It’s a frightening place but this is the place where you learn to discern the hand of God.  This is the place where you learn to discern God’s touch.  If you are looking at the fire and have been afraid to jump, be encouraged, He’s at the door waiting for you to ask Him to lead you through.

This is the place where you learn that God will truly never leave you nor forsake you.  There is so much beauty there!  There is so much that God wants to salvage from that place!  But He will only salvage those that want to be salvaged.  He will only rebuild those that choose to go through this process.  We, the church, have been blessed so much.  It’s time for more of us to be willing to enter in to the healing place.  There is a world out there crying out to God to show them just how real He is.  There is a world out there crying to see Him alive in others.  There is a world that wants to know the true blessing of serving a God that is alive and holy.  And there is a God who wants to guide you through this place to show you just how beautiful it really is … just how MUCH there is to salvage!

The healing place is where God teaches you to close your eyes and listen with your heart …… it’s only then that you hear the lost souls crying out.

You don’t belong here.

Before I knew Christ, I spent a couple of years as a bartender.  I never really felt completely comfortable in that environment.  Honestly, it was an odd place for me to be because I was never much into drinking.  However, I had gone through a divorce, was a single mom, and had started a new business.  I seen it as an opportunity to help me support my family and my new business.

I remember feeling sick to my stomach every time I was there though.  I remember the emptiness I felt inside as I’d watch people coming in to have a good time.  It wasn’t just the fact that they were drinking though.  I didn’t see alcohol as an evil unless it was in excess.  Watching the people come in having such a good time, and there I was … working, serving, and something inside me just didn’t feel right.  I felt like I needed to be home.  Like I needed to be with my kids.  But then, I was divorced, so there weren’t any kids to go home to anyway.  There wasn’t a relationship at that time either.  It was a very lonely time in my life.

I tried to make the most of it.  Somehow, I recognized that there were many other people in my same predicament.  They didn’t  have anyone at home and had this intense loneliness so it seemed that this was the gathering place to run away from the emptiness.  Oddly, when these lonely souls walked in and I had a chance to lift up their spirits with my friendly conversation and a smile, it somehow made my nights working there bearable.  Of course, those conversations were always early in the night.  As the night progressed, the scene would change to something very dogmatic and ugly.

As I look back, I remember a comment made one night by one of my local patrons.  He was a regular and his comment stuck  with me.  This was a young man who could have been my little brother.  I could tell he drank a little too much, but I really liked this kid.  I could see that he had a lot of potential.  I would often spend my time encouraging him like I was his big sister.  On this particular night, he was a bit toasted.  He had just been telling me his troubles and out of the middle of nowhere, he stops and looks at me and says, ‘You don’t belong here.’

Somehow, in the middle of his misery, he recognized something in me that I was really feeling.  I didn’t belong there.  I knew it, but my circumstances were such that I didn’t have many options.  It wasn’t but a year or so after that I was finally at a point where I could walk away from that environment.  Shortly thereafter, I had my encounter with Christ.

But this isn’t a story so much about me as it is about this young man.  I don’t know where this young man is now, but I’m fairly certain that he doesn’t frequent the bars anymore.  I know that by the time I quit, he had stopped coming in.  In hindsight, I believe that night Jesus stepped inside this young man’s soul and spoke not only to me, but also this young man.  I’m fairly certain that those words he spoke to me that night resonated within himself.  How could he recognize that I didn’t belong without seeing that he didn’t either?

I know now that this was a stirring in both our souls.  A stirring and a drawing from Jesus.  A stirring and a drawing to come out of the darkness and towards Jesus.  This is what gives me so much confidence in our God.  He doesn’t give up on us.  He shows up in our lives when we least expect it.  He teaches us the way of love.

He will never lead you astray.  It’s us who get ourselves lost along the way.  He knows just when to show up and tell us, ‘you don’t belong here.’

What’s a vision for anyway?

Have you ever had a vision from God that left you with a boost of enthusiasm that a situation would change?  Or what about a word of faith from someone else delivered with such confidence that surely you thought, it was going to happen?  Then, despite these prophetic moments, circumstances seem to reveal a slightly different path?

Maybe it left you thinking … just what was the vision for anyway?  Was this God’s way of teasing you?  Dangling a carrot out that you could never quite grasp?  Satan is surely there to point out all the depressing realities of the lack of prophetic fulfillment, isn’t he?  Or worse, he widdles his way into your psyche making you believe that somehow you’re responsible for the success or failure of the vision.

So what is the vision for anyway?  Having had a few myself of late and living out some of the thoughts above, admittedly, I have wondered myself.  I took these visions pretty seriously, so was God just teasing me, making me look the fool, or was there something more God had in store?  Today, I had a thought that perhaps the visions are more like seeds.

The intention of the seed is to produce something.  In fact, it’s intention is to produce something very specific.  If I’m the one receiving that seed, I suppose I feel I have a responsibility to do something with it.  I really have a choice to either toss it or plant it.  However, irregardless or what I do with it, God is still in control of what happens to that seed.

If I never do anything with it, that doesn’t mean that seed won’t germinate.  As a matter of fact, things may seem to get radical before that vision ever takes on the appearance of looking anything like what it was designed to, but that doesn’t mean things aren’t happening.

I could toss it out the window and some bird gobbles it up, poops it out, and BAM!  It falls into a nice pit of soil complete with fertilizer becoming a 200 year old solid Oak Tree.  The point being, if God’s intention is to produce, nothing I can do will stop that seed from producing exactly what God intended it to be.

Interestingly, in botony the ‘radicle’ is the first part of the seedling to emerge during the process of germination.  The ‘radicle’ is the embryonic root of the plant.  So, in my effort to play on words, there really is a place for all this seeming ‘radicle’ behaviour of this seed.

But what is our part?  What do we do with this seed?  Our part is to treat that seed just as God intended .. to plant it in good soil, to water it, to protect it from weeds, and to make sure it’s getting plenty of sunshine.  And when all else fails because maybe we never really got the hang of gardening or simply found that the cares of life kept us from keeping up on the weeds, we trust that God really is in control of the end result of that seed.  Trust that God doesn’t give seeds to just anyone and if He’s giving me one, He will follow through on His intention of producing exactly what He intended for that seed.

And when things get a little radical, instead of freaking out that the vision won’t happen, trust that maybe, God’s working His magic in the embryo of the seed.

Why do we always expect these things to happen over night?  Sheesh!  Give growth a little time for heavens sake!  Will ya?  After all, if it were to happen too quickly, we might just start taking more credit for the result of that seed than we should and then we are in for an entirely different problem!

God’s got this, remember?  😉

So caught up in the why, never considered who …

I’ve been studied the Holocaust for some time now.  I wanted to know how one man could lead an entire country to destroy human lives as though they were cattle getting ready for the slaughter.  I also wanted to know how so many people could just turn their head to such disaster.  So I started reading Mein Kampf.

Perhaps you’re thinking that wasn’t such a good idea, and I was a bit hesitant myself knowing that the government probably now has me on some black list because I got it from the public library.  However, I felt a strong urging in my spirit to move forward.

I heard a sermon recently that told me the Jewish people face East and facing East meant facing backward.  So they move forward, facing the past, knowing where they’ve been, just like in a row-boat.  I happen to agree with this.  It’s not only been Hitler that slaughtered millions of people at a time and got others to turn their head, there’s been others.  At some point in time, we need to start asking ourselves, how did this happen and how can we prevent it?  I’m beginning to find out that, unfortunately, the only way to understand madness is to take a really good look at it and pray that God leads you to His understanding.

While Hitler’s book wasn’t an autobiography, there was enough personal information in the book to get an idea of who he was.  I was quite surprised to find that this ‘madman’ had many traits that were desirable, that he was intelligent, artistic, empathetic, and loyal to his country to a fault.  I was also surprised to read that in his own words, he tells how in the beginning, he wasn’t against the Jews.  He was a man of keen observation and not just of events, but of the effects of those events on people.  He seemed to be caught up in how he was responding to events around him and was unafraid to openly show his struggle with his internal man.  He was unafraid to show how quickly he could be persuaded to ‘change opinions.’

Despite these findings tho, there were some marked events in his life that gave me a better understanding of how he perhaps started on the path he ended up on.  From my perspective, I could see a determined arrogance that was fueled by a hate of those he felt repressed the German people and he seemed to take this battle very personally.

After getting to page 65, the last page of chapter 2, I’ve decided that regardless of what the rest of the book says, I got the answer I was looking for.  There it was, in his own words, ‘And so I believe to-day that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator. In standing guard against the Jew I am defending the handiwork of the Lord.’  He honestly thought he was in God’s will.

So how does an atrocity like the Holocaust happen?  Hitler was so caught up in the whys of his day that he never stopped to consider who he was following.  There is not a shadow of a doubt in my mind that this was a spiritual battle where Satan merely needed an outlet to gain power.  Unfortunately, he found it at the expense of millions of lives.

While some may balk that I could see any positive in a man such as Hitler, I honestly believe that he had a greatness in him that was designed to be used in a positive way.  Unfortunately, it didn’t play out that way.

How careful we need to be to search our hearts!  This man claimed to be doing ‘the work of the Lord.’  Yet, clearly, it wasn’t.  We don’t hear of him having conversations or thoughts asking God what God thought.  We don’t hear of him having thoughts of praying about it and seeking God’s face.  Nor do we hear of him addressing the hypocrisy of his own thoughts and actions.  Instead, he very plainly points out his faults with every intention to correct everyone except himself.

He never stopped to listen to the small still voice inside telling him, ‘this is wrong.’  Instead, he kept barreling ahead towards the voice that fed his pride, his self-righteousness, his hatred, and ultimately, his insanity.  What I get out of all of this, is that it only takes 1 human vessel for Satan to get his hands on to mess up a whole lot of other people’s lives.

And while the good news is that it only took 1 human vessel to die on a cross and save our souls, we still have to live this life out.  We still have to face the evil present in the world and we still have to face the fact that, we could be persuaded to partake in that evil just as easily as this man was.

How we need Jesus!  Not just as a Saviour for eternal salvation, but we need His leading and guiding every day!  While this study hasn’t been easy, I walk away understanding now, more than ever, just what Christ did for us and how we need Him.  Fact is, we can’t do this alone and even if we think we are, Hitler’s actions remind us very clearly, there is a spiritual entity that understands our power more than we understand it ourselves.  If we don’t use it for God’s glory, he’s more than willing to use it for his.

God help us.  I’m sorry this has such a downer tone, but the promise and hope comes in mourning and remembering those who were a part of this and other atrocities.  That their lives weren’t lost in vain.  There are very real people effected by this garbage.  But we can’t just pick up the book and hate back.  We have to stop and say … WAIT!  That’s how he ended up down that path.  Yes!  I know his soul may be in hell; me pointing out the goodness that God put in him doesn’t change his soul status.  What it does is show that if we don’t take time to see ourselves in men like this, we might just find ourselves being led to be the monster he became.

If we aren’t careful, we might just find our own selves getting caught up in the why and never consider who we are following.

Satan doesn’t know you …

I had an experience recently that gave me a revelation .. Satan doesn’t know you.  I had an encounter with someone who was severely under the influence.  This person has no recollect of the conversation, and I was certain, the words spoken, were entirely led by a demonic presence.  (They don’t call it ‘spirits’ for nothing!)  The profound thing to me was being witness to this and being able to clearly discern what was happening.  In the past, have I not had some personal experiences in my life with demonic presence already, I might have been freaked out.  However, in this instance, I really seen a person who wouldn’t remember anything, so the only person that could be effected by the words spoken was the other person in the room .. i.e. me.

As I’m listening to the words of this individual, I’m hearing that my loved ones are being followed by Satan and all kinds of other strange things.  I disregard the comments and speak to the person directly, by name.  Again with the strange comments.  Then they start in on me.  ‘Dionne.  I remember you.  From before.’  This is the part where, had I not been privy to this strangeness from the past, I might have been freaked out.

It was then that I had the revelation.  The statement was made almost like an attempt to engage me, or trick me into saying or doing something that would somehow trip me up.  I imagine it was much like this for Jesus when the Pharisees kept trying to trip Him up back in the day.  Now, I’m not Jesus, but I do have His Holy Spirit in me, and I am thankful to say, He gave me the ability to see things from an entirely different perspective that day.  Have you seen the movie based off the ‘Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe?’  It’s the one where the girl on the beach is captured by these invisible creatures that appear to be giants?  Turns out that when the facade is over, the creatures are really just silly looking creatures with one big foot that have no capacity to do much of anything once they are seen.  This is how I see Satan and his band of demons.  He has no control over our lives unless we turn it over to him.  There, the secrets out.  He doesn’t know me, and neither does he know you.  I imagine he walks around with some sort of spiritual notebook taking notes on how you respond to his attempts to get your attention, but once you get an understanding of this, the gig’s up.

On the other hand, God knows you.  God doesn’t trick, seduce, or play on your emotions to get you to follow Him.  He allows you to explore for yourself who He is.  Go ahead and go where He doesn’t want you to go.  He won’t stop you, especially if you are adamant about going there.  But He’ll be patiently waiting for you when you finally realize that all those things you have been following were not Him.  He’ll be patiently waiting to pick up the pieces and help you rebuild what you were so hell-bent on destroying trying to prove your point that it was your life.  He never argued once with you about it.

I am in awe of God!  What does He want?  He wants us to be willing to let Him see Us for who we really are.  Here’s another little secret, He knows all this already.  After all, He is God.  Not to scare you or anything, but His word tells us that, “They were not faithful to the covenant I made with them, so I paid no attention to them.” Hebrews 7:9  All that craziness where you thought you were getting God’s attention … ummm .. He wasn’t even looking.  The only attention you were getting was from the demonic presence God allowed.  I’m sorry, but you were neglected.  You made your point, you wanted it your way, so God gave you what you wanted.  He wants us to be willing to show Him our sins and take accountability for it.  Yes, yes, you’ll have to pay the consequences of your actions in this world, but the good news is, He isn’t going to banish you to hell for those actions.  He already took care of that price by dying on the cross, but it’s not yours unless you choose to take it.  By taking accountability, it allows Him to help you stop doing things that are hurtful to yourself, harmful to others, and displeasing to God.

Repentance .. it’s not only the first step, it’s the most important.

See?  Satan doesn’t know you.  He’s just a tool God allows until you realize, it’s the attention of God that matters.

Happy day!  🙂

Jesus Wept: A love story

The deeper my relationship with Christ gets, the more I appreciate what He’s done and IS doing for me.  This weekend, I was reminded of how there are times, I don’t always respond in a way that is pleasing to Him. It’s interesting because when I mess up, I know it.  If it’s a mistake, I fess up, clean up, and move on.  I take responsibility and understand that mistakes will happen.  Jesus still loves me.

Well, there are other times when, it isn’t so much a mistake that I make; I would categorize it more as negligence.  Admittedly, I am at times negligent to my responsibilities as Christ’s bride.  Times when I get caught up in my own selfish reaction or feelings.  Kind of like Mary and Martha did in John 11, when they lacked faith and blamed Jesus for Lazarus’ death.

Ugh … not an easy thing to admit .. but there are times when perhaps, I react selfishly .. when I feel my needs aren’t being met by a loved one .. or overreact to something that really isn’t that big of a deal .. maybe not watching my tongue because I’m ‘having a bad day’ .. or perhaps even not being careful of what or whom I share with.  Sigh .. there really is no justification for my behavior in those moments.  I’ve literally just given over to my flesh and am creating a mess.  A mess that literally, only Jesus can clean up.  Often, I’m not even aware of the damage I’m doing because I’m too focused on ME.  After reading this particular passage this weekend, I have a better understanding that Jesus really does get upset with us when we do things like this.  It’s something that I have to come to grips with, I’m not always at a place where I am going to be pleasing to my bride-groom.

Oh how I realize my need for Him!  How did Jesus react to the unbelief He encountered?  The Word tells us He was troubled in His spirit and groaned within Himself .. but how He chose to handle it … He Wept.  I can only imagine how it must feel for Him to not have His disciples on the same page.  Here, He spends time loving, healing, sharing, caring, and even letting these ladies in on what He has in store and how do they react?  Disbelief .. lack of faith .. negligent .. completely contrary to what He’s trying to accomplish .. yep .. we do a pretty good job of mucking up His plans.  Yet still, He loves us.

What amazes me …  He doesn’t freak out on Mary, Martha, and the Jews that lacked faith.  He dealt with His spirit by weeping .. showing us how to seek His face in times of trouble or frustration .. then He continued on His path and completed the miracle.  His reaction was nothing but pure love!  He gave Mary and Martha room to grow.  The good news is, He really is all about mercy and grace.

I can’t help but feel that the stories we read are constantly Him talking to His bride trying to get her to see that He really is all about mercy, if she would only look in the mirror and realize just how much room He gives her to grow.  If we could just realize that He would like us to give the same in return, to others.  If we could just realize how much He withholds His wrath from ALL of us because He wants to include ALL of us!  Will He have to draw the line some day?  You bet.  But today, it’s mercy .. it’s grace .. it’s Love.

And even when we don’t ‘get it’ … still, Christ loves us.  He continues to draw, continues to gently correct, continues to withhold His wrath, continues to teach, continues to lead .. continues to love.

If only we truly understood how much He really loves us ..  All of us.  The Bible .. it really is the greatest Love Story ever written.  The best part, you and I both play an important role .. and Jesus is going to show us each how to play our part.  He really is an awesome God!

Maturing in Christ

My little boy told me the other day … ‘I grew last night, Mom.’  I said, ‘You did?  How do you know?’  His reply, ‘My knees hurt.’  Of course, being the youngest, he’s heard his brother and sister speak of growing pains, so he assumes that the pain he feels is just that .. he grew.  I’ve been feeling that way of late too, only it’s not been my stature, it’s been my spiritual growth.

Unlike my son, I didn’t necessarily recognize that some of the small pains I’ve been experiencing was me growing, but now, just a few short days afterwards, I can honestly say, I feel taller.  I feel as though I’ve grown.

One of the lessons that Jesus has been working on me of late is my responsibility to others.  I’m pretty certain that this is something, like children, that we don’t fully understand until we’ve grown and matured a bit.

I can only speak from my frame of reference; the things I’ve experienced and that have been revealed to me.  However, it seems that Christ has first really taken time to work on me.  As much as I was ready to jump in and help others, truth-be-told, He’s constantly spent most of the time healing my wounds, revealing my insecurities and flaws, and helping me to see where I need growth.  Somehow, despite my driven focus to live and do according to what I think is right, He has slowly and methodically changed my way of thinking.  The best part, He has done it at His pace and in His timing and somehow, it has always come in Love.  Wow!  What an amazing God I serve!

As I mentioned though, as of late, God has been opening my eyes to a new lesson of being responsible towards one another.  It’s easy to look around and see how society and the World, and Christians too, tend to have a ‘I’ll live my life the way I want without regard to others’ attitude.  This attitude doesn’t focus on anyone other than ourselves, but really, it doesn’t change our responsibility towards others.

‘The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.’ Deut 29:29 KJV

I’m so thankful today that God has taken the approach with me that He has.  He has allowed me the room to make some mistakes.  The more I get to know Him, the more I realize that He really does have expectations for us and how we are to live our lives.  I’m certain I haven’t got it all figured out yet, but today, I am most thankful for all the ‘growing pains’ I’ve experienced.  I can honestly look back now and see how each and every trial He has brought me through helped me to gain a better understanding of His love, mercy, and grace.

He really does have a handle on all the things we think we need to know or need to understand but simply don’t yet.  What a blessed assurance I have in Christ!

‘For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.’  1 Phil 1:6 NAS

Like my son, I can honestly say with a big confident grin, ‘Yep.  I grew.’

Praise God!