Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Clearing A Path; God's Will and Moving Boulders

Life is a funny thing, God's timing is a mysterious thing, both are difficult to understand sometimes and for me that sometimes has been years long. The circumstances have been ones that seemed to happen over and over again, every time I would get a good idea or see a path that had promise and get a good strong running. I'd be on my way, seeing the goal in front of me and some successes and WHAM...I was knocked down, stopped dead by something in my way. I was cut off, even knocked completely off the path I was on and unable to find a way back. 

Some of my friends have tried to explain my situation by saying God was bringing death to a vision and that He would certainly provide a way and restore it in His timing and His way. I don't know if that is correct or not. Certainly there was death, but I'm not presuming the goals I had at the time were born of His vision or calling for my life, I know many of them have not been. However what my struggling did do was send me to a very deep and desperate place, where God set up a couple of encounters I am going to share with you, about the time He spoke to me through two strangers. I was powerfully reminded about them yesterday as I read  “What We Wish For” on Kimberly Brooks website.

"I realized this: creativity – the source that has always been the soul-restoring energy available to me in that nest-closet of mine – is like any other thing on this earth that FLOWS. It needs a clear path” 

Kimberly's words on the flow of creativity needing a clear path thrust me into a strong refreshed memory of when God spoke to me about something quite similar through two strangers. It literally took my breath away as I was instantaneously and powerfully reminded about it. Her words also explain pretty clearly what is going on in my life since those encounters as well. Maybe it's the same thing that's going on in yours too, I know I am not alone and I want you to know neither are you.

For me this has been years of deep longing to be set free to create with my hands and heart as I have been gifted to do. To use my abilities in a meaningful way to both add financial support to our household and to serve others too. For these many years something has always happened or been there to stop me or at least to slow down my creative work to a drip, drip, drip. There are days it feels like my heart wants to burst from it. But I am tempered by the understanding that God is at work even when I can't see what He is doing. After reading Kimberly's post I felt the strong nudge of the Holy Spirit to share my personal account of what happened when I was met by two women of faith at that women's retreat.  This account is not just what God said to me back then, but how He spoke, the method He used to reach me.
The Encounter:
Three years ago I attended a women's retreat for Free Methodist churches in our region. I went feeling deeply empty, spiritually exhausted and with everything in me crying out for God to do something, anything. I needed so very much to hear from Him that my whole being ached with desire for Him. It was during that weekend that I had encounters with two women who were strangers to me and who God used to speak to me, each sharing specific images He had shown them about my life, each sharing a very specific word of exhortation for me. When I first met these women I had no idea I was about to receive something from God through them. There were no signs, no goose flesh, no bells, no halos, no angel wings, no heavenly chorus, just common friendly conversation between spiritual sisters. What began as friendly interaction was transformed into life giving words when God moved in on our conversation. Through these women, God, beautifully and clearly delivered His message to me with such intimate detail there was no doubt it was directly from God.

The first morning of the retreat, during our free time, I sat down at the piano to worship in song for a while.  The first woman approached, listening, and then introducing herself.  She said she admired my playing and the lyrics of the songs, telling me they blessed her and ministered to her heart. She offered encouragement to me to keep writing as she felt God was blessing it. I graciously thanked her for the kind words and told her I was thankful she was blessed. We kept talking for a while and decided to go out for a walk down to a stream not far from the main lodge. Along the way she told me she had something she felt the Lord urging her to share with me, something about my life that He had shown her. This had never happened to me before but I figured what could it hurt and I agreed to hear her, though somewhat cautiously. We kept walking just talking casually until we reached the stream.

As we walked along the bank my new friend stopped and told me to look as she pointed over to a boulder out in the middle of the stream with water streaming around it. She proceeded to tell me how God had shown her that the stream of my life had been diverted and hindered by a boulder just like the waters of the stream we were looking at were diverted and that my life had even been stopped up by the boulder. She firmly but lovingly told me I would not be able to move the boulder out of the way. She went on to say only God could and would remove it. He would remove it and allow for my life to flow restored and without my lifting a finger. Relief began to sink into my soul and at the same time I was undone by her words, it was a near perfect picture of how life had been for me. Only God could have shown her that.

On the last day as I was getting ready to leave I was approached by the second woman who smiled and stopped me to ask if she could give me a hug. I needed a hug and I'm sure I looked like I need a hug, I was still a mess of emotions inside. But in all honesty, I had wanted to hug her too since I first spotted her in the crowd the first night of our retreat, but I kept missing her all weekend. I didn’t even know who she was, I only knew I wanted to give her a hug. I was so drawn to her I was actually glad to finally give her that hug, but even more thankful to be receiving one from her. As we parted from hugging she took my hands, looked me straight in the eye, and asked how she might pray for me. Oh boy, that did it. I broke into a blubbering mess right there in the hallway, crying so hard I could hardly talk. She took my arm and calmly said “We need to find somewhere quite to talk.” took my hand and let me to a quiet room where we wouldn’t be disturbed. 

As we sat there, I tried to again answer her question through the tears, but all I could get out of my mouth was how badly I needed God’s touch or a word, anything from Him. She suddenly sat up very straight and with authority said in her sweet but firm voice, "Honey, you need to quite trying so hard!  You let go right now, you need to relax! God's go this! Why are you trying so hard?"  Boy did that get my attention. What she shared with me next cemented that this was indeed God's message to me and that it not just her speaking, it was the Holy Spirit speaking through her. She explained how I was like a little plant who wanted so badly to grow and who was trying to, but there was this big rock on top of me that was making it very hard to grow. Then she shared with me how every time I tried began to grow so I could bloom, a foot would come and press down on top of that rock, pushing it down on me so I couldn’t. Then she told me I was not going to be able to remove the rock either.  She told I needed to just stop trying right to move that rock out of my way right now because I couldn't do it, that was God's job. As if that wasn't enough she said it again, telling me to RELAX and stop trying so hard, that God would move it and that I must trust God because He would do it. God was drilling His word into me through this lady who was barely five feet tall, what a powerhouse!  I think my jaw must have hit the floor as I listened to her words. How could she know this about my experience, my personality and my struggle? Certainly God had given her my number, there was no denying it.

After she finished sharing I confirmed humbly she was correct in what she had stated about me and repented of my self reliance and stubborn will. We spent some time in prayer over what had just been shared and my new found perspective and from that day on I knew that I knew, God had met me there, that He had heard my cries and He had spoken to me. That day I left that place renewed, trusting God fully, still not sure what He would do or when, but with my hunger fully satisfied and my spiritual legs were back under me and ready for whatever was next.

This was such a peculiar thing to experience, to have two strangers say nearly the same thing to me about things they could not have known outside of God showing them. I had read about this kind of thing in the Bible and understood what receiving a word of knowledge meant, but to actually be on the receiving end...and twice in two days, that was somethin'.  Through these beautiful and obediently loving sisters in Christ, I had been given a message quite specific to my life by my Heavenly Father.  (Oh there go the goose bumps again!)  The whole experience was so mind blowing, they didn't know me from Adam yet spoke so directly into my situation, even about my weakness, each making it crystal clear that the necessary work was NOT mine to do with the last lady going so far as to exhort me to stop trying so hard and telling me I needed to relax and let God do the work for me three times!  Seems sometimes God knows that we, that I, need to hear something more than once and sometimes from more than one person, even strangers.

This truly is the most amazing thing to me, I was in such a dire place and here comes God's spokeswomen who lovingly, obediently, tenderly and firmly, delivered God’s loving response to my crying out for Him.  They took part in something that changed my life that day which is why, when I read the words Kimberly wrote, the air left my lungs as I felt those written words strike my heart with the same force and tone of the twin messages those women had shared with me.  They were like deep penetrating chords so familiar they went through my body, I leaned into them to fully feel them and hear them as fully as possible. Her words confirming to me again that the path of my life still needs to be cleared, the hindrance has not been removed and I agree, I still feel its presence.  But this time it is different for me.  I know the problem and the problem isn't mine and that God sees it and my desire to grow and bloom, to thrive instead of just survive the way I have been doing for so many years.  And I know that yes, He will perform what He said He would on my behalf.

So with all that said, now I'm sitting here wondering what is God up to?  Why this reminder?  These thoughts came to me after I felt the harmony of Kimberly’s words to the word of knowledge and exhortation the two women had shared with me.   I share this because I am trying to process all of it still, and because I still feel the boulder that has been hindering my path has not been removed, I am still waiting.  I share because I need to confess that I know I still can’t move the darn thing.  Yes, I confess, I’ve tried a time or two but gave up quickly because I immediately recognized I was trying to do God's work myself again. I share this because I still shake my head in amazement at the love God demonstrated through those two strangers that weekend and I want others to have that same type of experience with Him.  And I share to say that the waiting time has allowed me to learn a lot about myself and my gifts since letting go of my struggle.  And maybe most importantly, I share this to say that God has done a refining work in me, to teach me to be quiet in my soul...well I'm still working on that one but am much better than I used to be, and I am much more at peace with God's timing and plan than I used to least most of the time.

A passage in the Old Testament that has been very meaningful to me regarding the work God is doing in me and my situation is Isaiah 54:10-18
“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake,
But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you,
And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,”
Says the Lord who has compassion on you.

“O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted,
Behold, I will set your stones in antimony,
And your foundations I will lay in sapphires.
“Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies,
And your gates of crystal,
And your entire wall of precious stones.
“All your sons will be taught of the Lord;
And the well-being of your sons will be great.
“In righteousness you will be established;
You will be far from oppression, for you will not fear;
And from terror, for it will not come near you.
“If anyone fiercely assails you it will not be from Me.
Whoever assails you will fall because of you.
“Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows the fire of coals
And brings out a weapon for its work;
And I have created the destroyer to ruin.
“No weapon that is formed against you will prosper;
And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
And their vindication is from Me,” declares the Lord.

People may look in from the outside and not understand what is going on with my life, but God is in the middle of it, in full control and working to bring about His will and blessing for me. He is good always.

For more on spiritual gifts God gives us read 1 Corinthians 12. 

P.S.  It is not lost on me how God uses so many references from nature...the boulders, the should see all the boulders I have dug out of my garden here at Tinkerer's Paradise.  And my delight with His fingerprints revealed in His glory in the garden...I just love how He does this. 

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