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.

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Walking down memory lane

I love to read the scriptures!  Especially the book of Acts where you see the apostles doing all these amazing things .. healings, casting out of demons, eyes opened, lame walk, etc.  What an exciting thing to read about!  What’s even greater though, is experiencing these things yourself!

Witnessing and seeing lives changed!  Watching as the spiritual eyes of someone you love go from darkness to light!  Watching the miraculous power of God take a dead sinful human and bring them into a life full of joy!  To see the language and actions changed and watch a miraculous cleansing occur in a life that had been previously filled with drugs, addiction, alcohol and all sorts of corruption.  It is no wonder  to me that there is a miraculous joy that comes from those who have experienced this!

Or what about the other miracles that we may not always recognize, but are just as glorious?  For instance, the baby Christian who walked with frailty and fear taking step and after step towards Christ, despite the overwhelming odds against her.  Watching these baby Christians overcome struggle after struggle and grow up to be confident, bold Christians facing challenges that would turn our tummy all with a smile and twinkle in their eye.  Not with pride, but a confidence that says, ‘I know my God!  I know what He is capable of!  I am not afraid!  I am saved!  I am sanctified for HIS purpose!  And I am loved!  Oh GLORY!  I AM LOVED!  What an AMAZING feeling!’

What a glorious thing to see!  What a glorious thing to experience!  When I think of all the great things God has done in my life and the lives of those around me, I literally feel like jumping up and down because I think .. if this is only just a glimpse of what He’s done, I can’t wait to see what more He’s going to do!!  Seriously, the excitement can NOT be contained in this human shell!!   Oh my goooooooooddddddddddnnnnnnnnneeeeeeeeesssssssssssss!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh how we need to encourage and share our testimony with others!  Not just to those that aren’t saved, but to those that have begun the journey … to those who have stumbled .. to those who have fallen and lie stagnant .. to those who have forgotten the joy because they got caught up in the pit.  Especially in those moments where our fruit of joy is so fresh!  That juice of joy can be spilled over and shared with those who have become dry and thirst for God’s glory!

Please share you testimony with someone!  Remember what God has done for you!  Remember how amazed you were when the miracle was performed!  Allow your heart to re-experience the moment you caught His gaze and realized He had been looking at you the whole time .. He was just waiting, patiently for you to recognize Him there with a smile on His face, arms open wide!  Remember the moment where you realized .. maybe … just maybe … it was intended for YOU too!  Because it is!  This glorious joy … this AMAZING love … was meant for YOU too.

Do you remember?  He’s there .. waiting to take you down memory lane .. only these memories are the ones to treasure and cling to.  The building blocks of a foundation that started all with HIM.

Jesus loves YOU.  THIS, I know.

 

This is Your Life

It’s strange how hearing a comment directed to someone else can hit you like a brick.  In this new year, I started with a promise to myself to press on, challenge myself, and move onto whatever it is that God wants and expects of me.  So when I heard my husband make a comment to one of his children, it side-swiped me in a way I didn’t expect.  The comment was, ‘This is your life.’

Of course, he was pointing his child towards Jesus and his point was simply to say .. what you see is what you get.  You can’t do this alone.  You need God.

For me, it meant something completely different.

I already have God.  I already have a strong relationship with Him.  Not that we can’t all stand to have a reminder or two to get back on track, but it would be just that, a little reminder.  Forgive me for being real here, but it turns out, life isn’t much different with God as it was without God.

I’m referring to the problems and challenges that I had before.  I still wrestle with insecurities and I find that I still have a list of faults that I’m working on improving.  My children are still rebellious at times, I still have debts, arguments, get mad a time or two, and well … life still happens.

I’m not really sure what I expected.  However, admittedly, I often find myself seeking inside wondering when I will have that big God moment where He speaks audibly telling me exactly what it is I’m supposed to be doing.  My husband’s comment was like that voice telling me to simply … live your life.

I can only imagine that it had to be similar for the Israelites in the Wilderness.  God rescued them and performed miraculously wonders proving that He was for them only to put them … in the wilderness for 40 years.  Sure, God was still caring for their needs, but boy, life sure was different.  They were rescued to wander around aimlessly?  We look from the outside and say they brought it on themselves, but if you think about it, we do the same thing.  At least I know I do.

I’ve got all my needs met.  God constantly provides me with manna from Heaven.  I always have just the right word when I need it and it never comes from a source I would have expected.  And what’s my response?  To complain that I’m wondering around in circles waiting for some direction to the supposed ‘promised land.’

After my husband’s comment, I thought, what if this is it?  What if there is never any BIG call other than to simply do what I can where I am at?  To simply move forward?  What if nothing out of the ordinary happens?  What if I am expected to simply ‘live my life for God?’  What if there is never any ‘Moses’ moment for me?  What if I was called to be one of the unmentioned disciples?

Wow!  Talk about a reflection!  I had to confront that Passion I feel inside and truly face  … dare I say it … pride.  Do I chase God’s work for His glory or mine?  Not to say that I don’t think we should do great things for God.  However, I honestly believe that we neglect the bigness of simply being a reflection for God.  The bigness of being one of the unmentionables.

I also think we forget that living life is a miracle itself.  How difficult it is to live life and NOT focus on the problems?  With God, we have a new perspective and living daily, being content with where He has put me, with a smile on my face, or getting back up each time I fall is a BIG deal.  This IS being a light.  It does make a difference because those around me who don’t know God have a reference point to see, the right way IS towards God.

I don’t think it means that I have to give up on the Passion that I feel to do something great for God.  I think it means facing up to just how big that job really is.  A kingdom isn’t built on just a few souls, it’s built on a whole lot of people doing little things daily which amounts to a whole lot of light reflecting God’s glory.  Not my glory .. God’s glory.

So this is my life.  Turns out I’m okay with simply living it.  If I never get to be a Moses, a Mary, Ruth, Paul, or David, well … that’s okay.  I’m a Dionne.  My part is not mentioned at all in the Book on your shelf, but it turns out, there’s another book that I am found in and well … that’s the one that really matters.

I’ve got Big things to accomplish.  Love that needs to be given.  Laughs that need to be had.  Fights that need to be fought.  Tears that need to be shed.  Struggles that need to be faced.  Faith that needs to be shared.  I’ve got a life that needs to be lived!

Turns out, the promised land is     ….    Life.

Reflecting on Expectations

This last Sunday, Pastor gave a great message.  It was one on reflection.  It was one of those messages where God is diving deep into your heart revealing some un-pleasantries that were hiding in a dark crevice tucked behind a bunch of justifications.  Since then, I’ve been doing my best to confront this particular dust ball head on.  Today, I realized that perhaps what I’ve really been doing is hanging on to expectations.

I don’t think it’s bad to have expectations.  As a matter of fact, they can help people.  Expecting good things is well … a good thing.  But I’ve found that personally, when my expectations are repeatedly returned with disappointment, I tend to go in what I would refer to as, hibernation mode.

Maybe it’s because I’m not really sure how to handle the situation.  Actually, I know that’s part of it.  I tend to look at what I can do differently so I tend to withdraw believing that it’s best to think on it before reacting.  Problem is, the repeated disappointment results in growing distrust and disgust that, unchecked, seeps out as sarcastic anger.

I had the revelation that the real problem I was contending with was holding onto expectations that I should really just turn over to Jesus.  I’m not quite sure that this will solve my dilemma, but I do feel as though it’s a good place to start.  I also feel it’s a much better option than attempting to simply manipulating myself or anyone else into believing that things are ‘just fine.’

Perhaps the distrust that I experience has more to do with the expectations I put out rather than a real trust issue.  Turns out however, that I can not deny the fact that distrust ultimately means a lack of faith in God’s ability.  I would never willingly say that I didn’t have faith in what God can do, however the repeated issue of distrust tells me … yep, there’s a malfunctioning wire that needs correction.

Ugh .. the double-edged sword of cleaning up your heart.  Feels good when it’s done, but dang .. it’s a lot of work to get there.

I’m not completely sure how to sort out all these expectations quite yet.  Turns out I’ve a heap of them that have been collecting for some time.  Maybe in the end Jesus will tell me that there are a few I should keep, but in the mean time, I really need His help to determine which ones to toss and which ones to give Him for safe keeping.

Oddly, just talking about the job is making me feel better already.  I’m okay with a little work.  Especially if it means cleaning up that sess pool that was seething at me in the mirror the other day.  Yikes!

Speaking of reflections, turns out it was a good thing I put that reminder on the mirror to not forget my smile.  🙂

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.

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!