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?  😉

The other side of Christ’s Love …

It seems that we all know about how we are supposed to turn the other cheek, give up our coat, and forgive seventy times seven.  However, there is another side to Christ’s love that we don’t hear as much about … I’m referring to the tough side of love.

Believe it or not, I’m not talking about my children .. although as a parent, these things certainly apply.  I’m actually talking about people who Christ has put in our path that need not just another hand out or just another body to enable their dysfunction, but rather, they need a hand to help hold them accountable.

I had a situation recently that I had to be one of those hands.  At first, my attempts to assist were eagerly accepted and there seemed to be a direct change for the better.  However, the change was short-lived.  As I began to hold this person accountable, the scenario began to reveal a self-defeating ‘victim’ status that seemed to plague this person.  This was the hard part for me.  Certainly I wanted to help this person .. I wanted to see this person succeed .. however as time continued, it seemed that rather than climbing out of the hole, it was just getting deeper.  It got to the point where I had to make a choice.  I could either continue to enable defeat or do my duty and say .. enough.  How do you help someone who is simply not willing to help themselves?

Forgive me for saying so, but I don’t like this part of being a Christian.  Truthfully, I’m a sap for someone who has a ‘bad’ story.  I literally feel their pain and can understand why they are the way they are.  But this situation really made me understand the importance of doing my part to stop enabling the ‘I’m a victim’ cycle.

So the other side of love is this .. sometimes we have to be ‘tough’ with people.  Not mean .. tough.  The difference is all in the heart.  I really did feel for and understand how this person had gotten in the pit.  However, I also realized that victory would never be achieved until this person looks in the mirror and stops blaming today’s problems on yesterday.  Can I tell you?  I hate being the one to say that.  I know it’s supposed to be a blessing, but it doesn’t feel like much of one.  At least not yet because I don’t see any change.

Maybe that’s the reason it’s so hard for me.  Despite all MY efforts, I didn’t see anything change.  At least not yet.  I’m just another random hand reaching out to someone who’s not quite ready to climb out of the pit.

Sigh …

Not that I’m going to stop being compassionate, because if anything, this situation just increases my desire to help others.  I just feel like I had a visit from a vagabond and really really thought … there would be change.

I guess the tough side of love is realizing that not all the people Christ puts in your path are at a point where they are ready to change.

Ugh … what a different world it would be if they were.

 

Back in the garden ..

I often joke about what happened in the garden of Eden .. you know the part where they blamed someone else?  However, truth be told, what happened was pretty serious.  Now I know that Eve is the one who took the first bite, but for the purpose of this blog, my focus is on how they .. specifically Adam, reacted.  He lost his proper perspective and blamed God.

God calmly handled the situation.  There were some things that needed to change.  There was a very serious lesson that needed to be learned and God was going to have to administer some tough love to do it.  Up until this time, God had provided everything.  All man had to do was enjoy.  He didn’t have to work for any of the things God provided.

While God loved Adam and Eve, I’m guessing that He understood from the beginning, the relationship He desired with man would never work if man blamed God for choices man himself had made.

So after handing out the sentence, God covered them, and gently ushered them out of the garden.  They had to learn personal responsibility.  Blaming God for problems that exist will always create a gap in the relationship.

Adam and Eve would have to learn that power lies in taking responsibility.  Power lies in accepting responsibility that it was our own choice that led us to do what we do .. regardless of circumstance, regardless of our past, regardless of how we arrived to do what we did .. we made a conscious choice.

It’s then that God can offer reasoning and understanding and use the situations to teach us why He told us not to take those actions in the first place.  It’s then that the relationship can be restored to what it was designed to be.  It’s then that God can use those things and work them for the good .. to those that love Him and that are called according to His purpose.

Sometimes tough love doesn’t feel good, but God uses our mistakes to teach us why it really is best if we just let Him BE God.  When we blame Him, somehow, we put ourselves at His level.  We are not gods.  Nor are we His equal.  We call Him our friend and His grace allows us to feel His nearness, but really, it’s important to keep a proper perspective of who He is.

When we take personal responsibility, we really do get a chance to see how God can turn ugly things into blessings.  Taking personal responsibility allows us to see from God’s perspective, which is always positive .. always good .. always on the ways of love.  Even if that means tough love.

God is good.  ALL the time.

.. sometimes I, personally, need to be reminded ..

I may not understand.  But the moment I blame Him for my choices, I’m making myself His equal.

gulp  ..  

Yeh .. not such a funny thing when you look at it like that.

Like I said, God is good.  ALL the time.

Jesus marvelled!

Did you know that Jesus marvelled?  He did!  God in flesh, the Alpha and the Omega, actually marvelled!  You can find this scripture in Mark 6:6.  This scripture struck me when I read it.  Having my own idea of what ‘marvelled’ meant, I decided to do a further study.

According to Strong’s Concordance, a further breakdown of the original word means to wonder or by implication, to admire.  Webster defines marvel as:  to arrest the attention and gaze, or to pause.  Webster defines wonder as: that emotion which is excited by novelty, of something new, unusual, strange, or extraordinary.  And admire is defined as:  to regard with surprise mingled with reverence.

So what was it that Jesus ‘marvelled’ at?  Their unbelief.

Truthfully, I’m still studying this whole thing out, but what I’ve found so far really excites me!  The fact is, God in flesh, had His attention arrested by something that He KNEW was going to happen.  He knew from the beginning that many people would not believe that He was God.  As a matter of fact, we know from reading scripture that this unbelief was the very thing that God would use as a segway to help graft in all.  (see Romans 11:30-32)

As I was studying this out, I could imagine Jesus going about His business, then suddenly, He sees the reaction of unbelief and He just stops .. dead in His tracks with a look of wonder in His eyes .. perhaps there was even a sparkle.  I imagine Him thinking, ‘This is EXACTLY how I planned it would happen!’  It’s like a scientist playing out all his formulas and planning and figuring out ahead of time what is supposed to happen, but when it actually happens, there is an amazement and gratification that spurs the scientist on to the next discovery, and the next, and the next!

What did Jesus do after this?  He taught, called His disciples together, and gave them power to cast out unclean spirits.  I can imagine His thoughts being something along the line of, ‘Everything is right on track.”

Of course, I could be wrong, but I really don’t think I am.  There are too many scriptures that support the plan having been struck up from the beginning.  There are too many scriptures that support a positive viewpoint of the things we tend to deem as negative.  This is cool because it shows how even though God knew the plan, it still had to be played out … He still had to play His role.

This is really awesome because it shows even more just how involved God is with His creation.  It was always His intent to be involved with us.  To experience and be a part of the plan, not to be an irrelevant figure dictating what happens and just standing by and watching.  And how cool is it that He gets a chance to experience the same emotions we do?  Ha!  Ha!  Actually, we were created in HIS image, not He in ours.  Sometimes I think we forget that.

Anyway, I think this is cool.  Jesus marvelled!  Wow!

Everything is right on track!

He’s coming.  SOON!

Hedge breaking news!

Oh how the Word will come to life if you let it!  2 Tim 3:16-17 promises us that the Word is profitable and helps perfect us unto works of righteousness.  Heb 4:12 tells us that the word is quick, powerful, and able to discern not only thoughts, but intents of the heart.

I want to share a glimpse of how God did that for me this morning.  I kept thinking about those weeds I wrote about.  More specifically, I was thinking about a species of roses that produce thickets of thorns that the DNR has labeled as invasive.  I also got to thinking about how Paul had that thorn in his side.  I felt compelled to open to Ecclesiastes 10:8 this morning.

I’ve been dealing with a situation of late that is not going to resolve anytime soon.  It’s of course, very stressful.  However, I have had this thought that I know God is going to use the situation to somehow bring light to someone who has been a thorn in my side.  When I was led to Ecc. this morning, I was reminded that when you determine to break through a hedge, you WILL be bitten by a snake.  However, Mark 16:18 promises me that snakes won’t hurt me.

So what’s the bite of the snake you ask?  For me, it’s the venom of the enemy.  It’s bitterness, anger, retaliation .. all the ugly emotions that you feel when you experience the sting and pain of breaking through a wall of thorns that God directed to go through.  … Ugh .. do I really have to go there God?

I have to share that the beginning of the verse God led me to speaks of a man falling into a pit that he dug.  In my situation, I was asking myself if I was digging a pit, but I honestly feel that the pit is being dug for me, not by me.  How easy it would be to just rest on that with a triumphant, ‘There!  He’ll get his!’  But wouldn’t you know it?  That two-edged sword is right there to divide my thoughts and reveal my intents and push me toward righteousness.  Needless to say, I was compelled to continue my search.  Sigh … if I must, I must.

I searched out ‘pit’ with my bible study program.  I found that ‘pit’ was mostly used in reference to bad things.  Pits aren’t good places to be.  They are dark, dank, scary, and often used to bury dead people.  However, Joseph found himself in a pit.  But Joseph was also delivered from the pit and used in a mighty way to help deliver the very people who put him in the pit.  … Well .. maybe God’s onto something here.

Psalms 40:2 also promises that God will lift us up out of the miry pit and set our feet upon a rock, making our steps secure.  For me, I found promise and comfort in these verses.  First of all, for myself.  Sometimes when people are determined to throw you in a pit, like Joseph’s brothers, they succeed.  However, I’ve got a promise that says God will lift me out of it.  … Hmmm .. this is getting better!

Second of all, for the guy who’s trying to dig a pit for me … I find hope.  I really do believe God is allowing this situation to continue because I believe it’s God intent to deliver this guy unto salvation as well.  Not sure it will be this exact situation, but I am certain God’s intent is to save this guy too.  So if this guy happens to fall into the pit he’s digging for me, I have hope that God will deliver him as well.  …  Okay!  Okay!  I get it, salvation is for everyone, not just the people who make my life easy.

When you really get into the Word of God, and allow Him to reveal what’s really going on in your heart, it’s an amazing thing.  You know, the things He reveals aren’t always pretty things.  After all, it’s only with light that we can really see the little thistle that was stuck in our side.  It’s also only in the light that we can effectively remove the thistle.

Plus, as I continue to hunt around in the woods, I’m learning that the best way to walk through a thicket of thorns is properly dressed with my hands raised high.  So as long as I put on the full armour of God and keep my hands raised in praise, I think I might just make it through that hedge after all! …. Ahhhh!  …  There!  All better!