It’s a Journey (Notes from the Wilderness)

  
Photo credit: Pinterest, Tony Evans

Beautiful friends, I might have one more post in me for the Spiritual House series. However, stay tuned for a new series upcoming-Abiding & Walking out Sonship. We need to know who we are as children of God. 

Today, I hope to impart hope from my journey. You’re reading words from a person who understands brokenness and the wilderness. I walked through abuse (verbal mostly), sickness, loss, betrayal, persecution, persecution from Christians, abandonment from my biological father, rejection from peers, rejection from family members, and so many things I won’t drudge them all up. My heart has been broken so many times; by family, in ministry, by friends…by people who claimed to love God. 

When people say to me, “I wish I had your relationship with God or your life is so good,” I want to say to them, “You don’t want to go where I’ve been and walk through what I have walked through with God.” 

My life has been walking through whatever I have been called to minister to. Like Jesus, I’ve had to walk it out. I went through many years of devastation…Needing miracle after miracle…Cheating death over and over…Living under persecution for almost a decade, praying, fasting…crying out for a miracles. 

God didn’t always deliver me from. He delivered me through. There’s so much of my story you’ll have to hear in the Suffering with Christ book I’m working on. There’s not enough space here.

I don’t glorify suffering. I do think people need to know all of life with Jesus isn’t skipping through parks of roses. If you suffer, it doesn’t mean you don’t love God or have enough faith. 

I feel I walked out of the wilderness in late 2012. Battered, bruised, tired, over trauma and near death experiences, over phony church love (yes I said it-I was tired of being beat up by Christians and imitation love), exhausted, wounded, discouraged, grief striken, and fed up. I had walked through both parents having cancer, my own sickness, too much church drama, losing a parent, losing “friends”, perpetual harassment at work, and so much more. I was done…

How do/did those wounds heal? God. 

Crucial Keys/Notes 

1. Forgiveness: forgive the people who’ve hurt you. Many of them don’t know God’s love. There are people in your church community/life who do not know the love of God. They can’t give what they haven’t received. You forgive (release them to God-don’t gossip, don’t seek revenge) and keep connection with God. If you’re upset with God, talk to Him. He’s not afraid of pain or you. 

Pray for those who hurt you. Their greatest sin is against God. They need Him and to know Him.

2. Seek God. 

My major healing didn’t happen with a SOZO, a pastor, a conference, counseling, or reading a book. 
The healing began with God. Over and over He would meet with me and heal one part of me then another. Some progress was quick. Others slow and painful. I was like a person who had been backed over repeadily by a semi truck and every bone broken. 

I was saved and sad. My soul was sick. Abundant life is in His word, yet I wasn’t seeing it in the people around me. 

The mentality was, “As long as my spirit is okay. I’m saved. I am okay.” This is false. We can be saved, on our way to heaven and miserable because we are filled with unbelief, fear, anxiety, depression, despair, insecurity, without lasting joy, or hope. 

Jesus paid for the whole person to be healed and restored!-Saved, healed, and delivered. 

God is the Source of abundant life. Get to know God personally. Intimacy with God is crucial. 

Quite a bit of my wounding came from other Christians who were either insensitive, ignorant (unlearned about dealing with people who had lived through trauma or abuse), unloving (let’s throw a scripture on it), wanted to be grief buddies (let’s be broken together), critical (if you were truly saved, this would not be happening  to you), or they avoided or ignored me (this isn’t my problem-go see a counselor-I’m only called to love those in my circle-get your needs met elsewhere). 

So I’m a huge proponent of going straight to God.  

There are some great Christian counselors, pastors, people. I’ve peer counseled, led people through deliverance/inner healing. Yet I tell people to continually seek God. I’m only human. I am limited. God is not limited. He can do more in a moment than I can in a lifetime. 

Recommend: 

Pray and ask God who you should confide in. Some people aren’t concerned, they are nosey or miserable too and want company. Some are not equipped to handle other’s brokenness. 

3. Learn the voice of God. 

This key kept my mind. You have no idea the warfare that raged on for years because I didn’t know how to fight. Fight from victory! God already won. 

In life I need His voice.  God saved my life so many times through communicating with me. 

I learned through His still small voice, dreams, visions, impressions, etc…He encouraged my heart, mind, emotions, spirit. His word is incredible. That’s where we started. He would speak the word to me. 

The most comforting thing He showed me during a horrible time was an open vision of me sitting on His knee. In the vision He pulled up movie scenes from my life. He pointed and He acknowledged He was there. He showed me that no matter what I faced, my Papa God was always going to be there. Some things in the last few scenes nearly tore my world apart. He stood with me. He let me know ahead of time, “This will hurt. This will shake your world, yet I am there.” In that vision I was a little girl. And that’s how I view myself now, a little girl on her Father’s lap. 

I live under the waterfall of His voice! Intimacy; listening…abiding. 

What is He teaching me about Himself during this trial or season?

4. Forgive the Process

I’d love to say through it all I’ve been this fierce warrior of faith. I’d love to say I’ve applauded God every second of the process. Nope. After my discipleship group (some of them) turned on me, lied, gossiped, betrayed my trust…and my pastor at the time eluded to the fact I had an idolatry problem because I was wounded from being betrayed by people I’d given my entire heart to for 3.5 years….Not to mention both my parents got cancer during that time, and I was being persecuted at work. I completely shut down. I closed my life off to anyone other than God and my immediate family. 

During that time with God, I had to forgive the process. Did God cause all these things? No. Did He allow them? Yes. Is He using it for His glory? Yes. 

5. Soak in His love; Find hope in His word. 

Soaking is my favorite thing. It’s focused time with God. It’s resting in His love. I soak with worship music or none at all. I invite God to speak, minster to my heart. Wow! He deposits so much. 

His word is filled with life. I do declarations and pray the word of God. I speak to my soul. I speak to my spirit. I highly recommend investing in saying what God is saying over your situation. 

God Your word says, where Your Spirit is there is liberty!

6. Understand it will hurt and you will grieve. 

I mostly grieve with God because He understands how to deal with me. I sometimes grieve with others but not very much. Sometimes people, though well meaning, leave you feeling worse. 

7. Pray for healthy, loving community. 

The worst thing I found in seasons of pain and suffering was the wrong community. It’s worse than no community. We tell people to be in community, yet if it’s not rooted in true agape love and centered on Jesus it can be a disaster. 

I hate it when people say, “hurting people hurt people” so don’t stay away from those who do bad things. If every time I see you I punch you in the face and say, “Hurting people hurt people,” you’d stop coming around me. At least I hope you’d confront me and say, “I love you but this behavior is not okay. Stop or I am distancing myself until you learn self control.” There’s a huge difference between being easily offended and staying in an unhealthy place. 

God longs to connect you with believers who will love you! 

I’m super thankful for my current church. There have been times I’ve gone in hurting and without me asking someone would come pray for me, share a word of hope, or prophetic word. 

There are great churches everywhere. Find your tribe! Pray for God to bring in people who love like Him. There are some. 

God longs to be the primary person to meet our needs. He also wants to love us through people. He sets the lonely in families. You are not alone. 

Well, I’ve given you lots of words. I hope you know you are loved! I’m praying for you (not just saying that). If I can make it, and it was so challenging, you can too. I have more JOY today than I’ve ever had. I laugh more than any of my friends. 😄 God heals! Yes indeed. 

Love,

Erin 

The Wilderness (Intimacy with God Part VII)

IMG_3768

Moses and the Burning Bush (Exodus 3:3-12)

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”

I love the story of Moses for many reasons. If you have not read it, it’s worth the time to invest in reading and studying the life of this man who encountered God in the wilderness and then led God’s people out of the grips of slavery. It’s simply one of the most miraculous stories aside from the birth and life of Jesus.

Moses had fled his place of nobility after killing a man for his mistreatment of his people. We find him tending flocks. No one was looking for Moses. He was an outcast.

Have you ever felt like an outcast? Unseen, unheard, unloved by peers, or that you’ve been stranded on the back side of the desert? If so you’re in a good place to encounter God.

You may be thinking, “That’s ludicrous!” But it’s not. God encounters us in the mundane, the hidden seasons, our brokenness, our pain and suffering, and in our wilderness experiences.

We normally ask the questions:
Why am I here? When will this be over?

The great questions to ask are…what is God attempting to do in me? What can I learn from God in this situation? What is God teaching me? Isn’t this just a setup for a miracle? How can I listen for and learn the voice of God in this hard place, the hidden place, the wilderness? How can I go deeper with God in this place?

I dare not glorify suffering and I’m not talking about sickness or disease or poverty. I’m talking about those hard situations in relationships and family, being abandoned by those who said they’d always be there, finding yourself as an outcast in society, etc…

I want you to know that God knows where to find you and He wastes nothing. You are not hidden or forsaken by God.

If you allow it, the wilderness can be a place of deep intimacy with God. Since He is the only support system, there is a daily learning to trust Him for manna. There is more time to be with God and converse with Him.

There’s sanctification and strengthening of the inward man in the wilderness. Our pride is exposed in the wilderness. The sense of entitlement rises up within us, “Why me God? This isn’t fair!!! You’re blessing everyone but me. Why are they being promoted? What about me?”

Trust me as one who’s had long seasons on the back side of the desert, it’s worth it…though it’s painful. There were days I felt forsaken or I could not take another step forward. God didn’t deliver me from, He delivered me through. I learned and am learning to lean. He placed me in many situations that required miracles, and He provided.

God longs to be known and loved. The wilderness exposes who and what we are worshipping and who or what we love.

We become humble or bitter in the wilderness.

If we seek God in the wilderness, we find the sweetest encounters with the Living God.

One of the greatest thing about this story with Moses is that when the angel of the Lord appeared in the burning bush, he turned to see what was happening.

We can miss God in the wilderness if we are busy trying to get out of the wilderness or hosting pity parties. God is always up to something good. He says, “I want you to know me in this place. The hidden place, the place of complete dependence on me, so you can know me.” God is speaking in your wilderness. God is showing up every day to meet with you. Don’t mistake His silence for absence. Sometimes He wants to be pursued, or He’s silent during a test. Yet He never leaves or forsakes.

Intimacy is fueled by desire…

I’ve found people who have never had to depend on God know less about Him and aren’t as hungry for Him. I know it’s a generalization, those are not good…here me out. When I go to Brazil on missions, people will get in canoes and travel hours even at night for a church service. They are so hungry for God and prayer for the sick. They have no healthcare. In the USA, we have worship services and sometimes people don’t come at all or they are on their iPhones or talking or looking at their watches. If it’s not a big name worship leader, prophet, teacher, healer, evangelists…then there’s no packing the church or venue. It’s not my place to judge. Yet I’ve not seen any worship in the USA that compares to the worship in the villages on the interior of the Amazon Jungle. People so hungry, one night we had worship by lanterns and we’re all most eaten alive by mosquitoes (slight exaggeration, yet it was a bug fest)…people came by the canoe full and never complained.

May you and I seek God in the hard places, the hidden places, the wilderness experiences. May we abide in Him and grow to know His miraculous love and provision. May we choose knowing and loving Him above all…

God bless you! You are deeply loved and prayed for.

Erin