This week I moved to the cute little college town of Searcy, Arkansas (by little I mean population of 23,000). Searcy is the home of Harding University and ASU Searcy. College kids are everywhere and as a result, so is a number of coffee, laser tag, and rock wall climbing businesses. I moved to downtown Searcy in sort of the historic district overlooking an art gallery on West Market Avenue and as of yesterday my apartment finally looks livable! I’ve spent all week unpacking, putting artwork on the walls, and hanging up all the clothes that have been piled on my closet floor.
Finally, last night I ventured out to be with friends. I felt like it had been days since I had seen a living soul (other than my co-workers) as I worked to make my new home become presentable. It felt good to be around a bunch of people that love Jesus so much. But as usual when I’m around, our topic of conversation turned to prophetic dreams and encounters. I love this topic because I think God is so exciting and I love how He makes life interesting and supernatural. He speaks to us in so many ways, some ways more subtle and others… way less subtle.
You see, in the last few months since going to Grace Fellowship I have been inundated with intense attacks from the enemy. I know this is not a result of the church itself; if anything, Grace has been a source of stability for me while I have been going through it. But I do however feel that the enemy is not happy that I am with my current church body. Let’s just say these attacks have included everything from overt demonic encounters, to demonic dreams as well as less overt temptations to pull me out of His will and my calling. At times I have felt like I have been literally going crazy. Not fun.
Wednesday night I woke up from one of the scariest dreams I have had in awhile. It was so intense, I woke myself up screaming “HELP!” at the top of my lungs (and then hoped that I had not also woken up one of my neighbors). Nothing was attacking me in my dream but the threat was definitely there and I knew it was a warning to keep pressing forward and to not look back. I was shaken for hours after the dream and as I sat down on my living room floor to spend time with the Lord, I remembered some other dreams I had in the same night. I remembered dreams about Jesus exchanging my sorrow for joy and dreams full of adventure and destiny… yet there I was letting the enemy ruffle my feathers again over this one stupid dream.
In that moment I chose to give satan the cold shoulder. He was just trying to scare me and I decided to ignore him. As I listened to Holy Spirit and what He had to say about the situation, I felt confidence in the Father’s protection over me. I saw myself wrapped up in His arms while the enemy cowered before Him. Holy Spirit reminded me of things He had spoken to me before about my authority and His strength and power to keep me. I remembered that He was for me and that all I had to do was believe His promises over my life. I had no reason to disbelieve what He has said in the past. He isn’t a God who lies and how dare I agree with the accusation and lies of the thief. I understood that the place of rest, trust, and belief was the greatest form of spiritual warfare.
Remember the armor Paul talks about in Ephesians 6? Faith, truth, righteousness, and peace are all important in shielding us from the evil one. Don’t just read the Word but believe what it says. Ask Abba who He is and choose to agree with Him. Recognize the lies of the enemy for what they are and speak truth right back at him. Obey Jesus, even when it is hard and even when it hurts and dive headfirst into His grace and forgiveness. It’s important to practice these things because there are two kingdoms at war right now and though I know Jesus’ kingdom is going to win, I also know that I want to be on His side. I want to make His name great because He is so worthy of it and because I am so in love with Him.
For the few of you that don’t already know, I’ve started to get training in guitar. For the first week, my fingers were painfully sore. I had large red welts on my finger tips and some of them were forming white blisters. It was incredibly painful to play but I managed to fight through it and eventually started to form calluses on my fingers. These calluses prevented me from feeling the intense pain the steel strings inflicted. I noticed however, in the shower today, that I couldn’t feel anything with these callused fingertips. Now that I’ve started working at a furniture store I can’t even feel the textures on fabrics because of the hardened skin that has dulled my senses.
It made me think about the calluses that can form on our hearts. Years and years of friction and pressure can cause hardness, causing us to feel nothing, including compassion for others. It can keep us shielded from the truth when we should be sensitive to the lies and deception of the enemy. This sort of pressure or friction comes from abuse, mistreatment, or even small areas of neglect during childhood. When the callus of self-protection forms, it blinds us from seeing recurring abuse and mistreatment. The need for relationship and acceptance is still there but the callus formed from this pain prevents us from seeing the abuser or false teacher correctly while assuming this need for relationship is being met.
But the Lord wants us to have tender hearts. We might feel the sting of rejection over and over again but a tender heart will keep us sensitive to His love and manifest presence. A tender heart allows us to hear His voice and receive His Word. A tender heart will cause us to be sensitive to the supernatural world around us and allow us to be able to “see” in order to “fight”. A tender heart allows us to become aware of His protection over our lives.
I’m not a fan of rhyming unless I’m writing a song but I thought perhaps it would add a tiny amount of amusement to a semi-morbid post on depression. Okay… So maybe it’s not as funny as I thought it would be.
This morning I listened to Mike Bickle’s message on encountering God in depression. I think most of us have experienced times of despair and depression… or maybe I’m just saying that to make myself feel better. Just imagine a really crappy modern scenario and you might begin to understand what David was feeling when he hid in the cave of Adullam. Imagine you ran from your murderous wife and all of your friends have abandoned you because they’re too scared she’ll come after them with a butcher knife too! On top of that you’ve been fired from your job and there is little hope that your career as CEO of the most powerful company in the world will be renewed. Your house was foreclosed on and now you are living in a cardboard box in Bedford Sty and your only friends are a band of raggedy, wild hobos who have been discarded by society and no one… absolutely no one understands what you are going through… well except for God, of course. But does He really understand? Because you haven’t been feeling Him around lately. You haven’t heard any direction from Him. You haven’t heard Him speak words of hope to you in a long, long time. His presence doesn’t seem to be a part of your daily routine anymore. So maybe He doesn’t understand. Oh happy day!
Who wouldn’t be depressed after something like this? I have to say, I have had a few moments in my life similar to this and I have to consider that God might be using these situations to train me and strengthen me for greater things. In Psalm 142, David is clearly depressed. This Psalm sounds like a great big complaint. A list of whines to God. But as Mike says in his message, it’s better to complain to God than complain to man. When we complain to man it’s sin but when we complain to God, it’s called prayer. Throughout his Psalms David repeats over and over who God is to Him, even in the midst of terrible events. He cries out to God to deliver him from those that are pursuing him and finally, he declares his future promises over his own life.
Because of Saul, David wonders if his promise to be king will ever be fulfilled. He wonders if God has broken his promise as Saul doesn’t seem to think David will ever be king while he’s alive. In the midst of pain, depression, and despair don’t allow ANYONE to tell you the promises spoken over your life are not from Him. In fact, during these moments use those promises and prophecies to keep you pushing forward. That’s what prophecy is for! And most importantly, say out loud who God is to you. He is your refuge, your strength, your deliverer, your defender, your high tower, and your peace. Pour out your complaints before Him and watch as He meets you in the center of them.
I sat in a sideroom of the prayer room one Tuesday afternoon during a fasting meeting and listened as one of my prophetic mentors explained to me that I was about to enter one of the most pivotal, horrific, and beautiful seasons of my life. That was in November of 2008 and on the previous day I had an absolutely disrupting encounter with the Lord. Today I remembered a part of that conversation. She explained a similar encounter and journey she had years before.
“It was the most difficult season of my life. It had a lot to do with love. A lot of ‘Sermon on the Mount’ type stuff.”
A lot of ‘Sermon on the Mount’ type stuff. That sounds nice. That doesn’t sound too bad.
Boy, was I wrong.
I don’t care who you think you are, but if you think you are good at the Sermon on the Mount, you are delusional and probably arrogant. I’m pulling no punches here. I love Jesus, but this Sermon is absolutely the most flesh-killing tool He operates with not to mention the fact that it is completely offensive… in a good way :/.
This weekend I was driving down the road with my new friend Rachel who was visiting for our Winter Gathering. She told me she felt the Lord wanted to free me from the bondage of worry (ahem) and that He wanted to free me from the bondage of the ‘need to be right.’ Oh yes. That’s what she said. And the problem with this is that Rachel happens to be the sweetest person I’ve ever met in my life so I couldn’t accuse her of impure motives.
But here, I realized what the Lord was saying was that that all of this really wasn’t about who is right or wrong… it was about self-preservation. Do I care more about preserving my reputation or do I care more about pleasing Him and becoming a humble peacemaker? It’s not the question that is so humiliating but the fact that my answer is so obvious when I allow the Holy Spirit to examine my heart. It is moments like these that I don’t want to waste. Moments that I know the Father is doing something so beyond the actual circumstance I’m in. He sees so far ahead and we stand there, grasping for control when we will never really have it. We really think we’re ‘big stuff’ and then we realize that we have no idea what we’re doing. We’re idiots. Idiots with a great inheritance. Sometimes God doesn’t actually care if we’re right or not. Sometimes He just wants to show us the idol of approval in our lives.
It makes me feel like a child. Like a two year old being potty-trained.
Oh yeah. That’s how I’m suppose to feel.
Which brings me back to another incredible vision I had this weekend.
Dancing. Dancing in my pink bedroom with the ruffled canopy bed in the background. I was eight. And I was worshipping. And He was dancing too.
And then we were in a field of flowers, dancing wildly, spinning and spinning and spinning. Then a drastic change in scenery.
Suit of armor, like Joan of Arc. Swinging my sword, cutting off the heads of demons, challenging the forces of darkness.
Back the camera up. I’m not Joan of Arc. I’m a child. I’m a little child wearing a miniature suit of Armor and the Father is standing right beside me and He’s huge. HUGE.
A massive dragon flies toward me. It was not nearly as big as the Father but it was A LOT bigger than me. I thrust my sword through it’s belly and it was forced backward with ease. I threw that silly creature back so effortlessly as the Father looked on in pride… even though I knew He was giving me all of the power to do it in the first place. It was more like He enjoyed the very sight of me… not so much that I was some crazy, skilled warrior.
There happens to be more to what I saw but I’ll keep it to myself for now.
The point is this– He’s God. I’m man (lady). Whether you’re a retired 78 year old worldwide evangelist or a four year old child, we are children of God and children have a very limited understanding of what our Dads are up to; why they do the things they do. We just go with the flow and let Him handle it, knowing that whatever happens it is for our good…
“The battle is not against flesh and blood…” in other words… I need to love my way out of the battle. Not fight my way out… at least when it comes to fighting with the wrong army.
I have been more aware of the demonic realm in the last couple of weeks than any other time in my life. Sounds traumatic, right? Well… right… at first anyway. At first I was in utter panic that my future would be utterly destroyed. Not kidding. But then I had an encounter with God. He’s the best. In fact, I had multiple encounters with God in the midst of some pretty dark circumstances. And even after Jesus Himself spoke truth to me and after we closed some doors that wounds had opened, fear rose up in me again a couple of days later. Fear that He was going to leave me stranded. Fear that I would be fighting this ‘thing’ alone.
So I sat in my bedroom Saturday morning and talked to Him about it. I told Abba that I was really scared. Really, really, really scared. He didn’t chastise me for my unbelief. He didn’t wag his finger in front of my face and say “shame on you!”. Instead, He showed Himself to me as a daddy. A daddy with huge shoulders and big muscles. And he said, “don’t worry. I’m gonna take care of my little girl. You just sit here and rest.” That was all it took. I knew He was telling me the truth. I knew I could lay back in His arms and that everything would be okay.
And because I knew that I was safe in His arms, I knew it was safe to love. I knew it was safe to love and forgive.
My sleep was slightly disturbed last night… okay massively disturbed by the probing of the Holy Spirit. I found myself frustrated, confused and condemned with the state of my heart and life. For the past couple of weeks, I have felt a distance from Holy Spirit. There are times when Jesus withdraws His presence from us to motivate us to seek Him out and then there are times that we allow our hearts to become so dull that His presence seems like a distant dream. You see, I’ve been having a running dialogue with myself for some time now.
I’m going to figure this out my way. I’m going to make things happen without His perfect timing and this is how I’m going to do it. I’m going to do this so that I can be a better person… wait oops, I made a mistake again so I suck and now He’s mad at me and there’s nothing I’m going to be able to do about it except try not to do it again. Wait, okay, what are some other ways I can stop doing this? How can I make myself learn to love more? How can I stop myself from being afraid? How can I trust God? How can I not put walls up? How can I not react to this person’s behavior? How can I not be sad when I disappoint someone? How can I stop disappointing someone? How can I get them to see me for who God made me to be? How can I love people that are difficult to love? Am I good enough to do this? Am I talented enough? I give up. I can’t do this. There’s no way…….. it’s impossible. Here I am going to that dark place again and I’m not fully sure how I’ll get out of it.
And the dialogue continued without end and the more it continued, the more withdrawn I felt. Last night I realized that there was something massively wrong. I wasn’t suppose to be having conversations with myself. Why hadn’t I even breathed a word of these thoughts to Jesus? Why did I continue to wrestle with myself and not wrestle with the One who loves to wrestle with His children? And in the dark frame of mind that I found myself in He whispered me back to an awake state:
You’ve forgotten that you need a Savior.
Then the image appeared again; an image that burned itself on my heart many years ago and has never quite faded from existence. It is the image of my Savior, hanging, bleeding, suffering and it wasn’t so that I could live life trying to pull myself up by my own bootstraps and combat sin and weakness and pain on my own. You see, people, the church is so afraid of appearing imperfect. We like to point out the failures and inconsistencies in the lives of others but we ourselves never fully realize the glory of partaking in the sufferings of Jesus, of feeding off of His flesh and blood, of partnering with Him in our daily lives… of relying on Him for nourishment and grace and healing. It’s because of unbelief that we continue to grasp for some kind of humanistic approach to holiness and righteousness. We don’t fully believe that He is there with us at all times. We feel abandoned by Him. We don’t trust in His goodness and kindness. It’s our belief in the tiny whispers of the enemy that God is withholding from us. That He is unpredictable (which He is to us, but not to Himself) but also erratic with our lives, ready to pull the rug out from under us at any moment.
But oh, He’s not that way!
We have to repeat the truth, in our mouths, in our heads in our hearts… to each other and ourselves.
For You are the living God, and steadfast forever…. you deliver and rescue and You work signs and wonders in heaven and on earth Daniel 6:26-27
“With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matt 19:26
And whatever we ask in Your name, that You will do that the Father may be glorified in the Son. John 14:12-14
But as for me, by Your abundant lovingkindness I will enter Your house. Psalm 5:7
Your gentleness makes me great. Psalm 18:35
Though the Lord is on high, yet you regard the lowly Psalm 138:6
As for God, Your way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless Psalm 18:30
Behold Your eye o Lord is on those who fear you, on thos who hope for your lovingkindness Psalm 33:18
Lord all my desire is before You; And my sighing is not hidden from You. Psalm 38:9
You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book? Psalm 56:8
O Lord, You have searched us and known us. You know our sitting down and our rising up; You understand our thoughts afar off. You comprehend our paths and our lying down and are acquainted with all our ways. Psalm 139: 1-3
“The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin…” Exodus 34:6-7
But those who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing. Psalm 34:10
Now didn’t that feel good? Couldn’t you feel the war going on as you read through these scriptures? I could. Happy are those that recognize the worth of their Savior. Not just who He is to us but who HE IS. He does not change. He is perfect in every way. Flawless in character. Does not show favoritism. Beautiful and Fascinating. Loves completely and perfectly and is always always always available. How lucky we are to depend on such a God.
So I’m going through an inner healing program right now. It’s absolutely one of the most brutal experiences of my life. It’s funny how things are popping up that haven’t happened in literal years. People popping back into my life (briefly) who had previously caused a lot of pain, apologizing for the mistakes they’ve made. Family secrets that have been hidden for years being exposed and generational strongholds being revealed. It has been a lot to take in. In essence, I’ve been handling it by hiding. Finally, this weekend I decided to actually lean into Jesus rather than avoid Him. I’d been frustrated about not hearing from Him during this difficult time, but it was really mostly because I was too scared to let Him into certain aspects of my heart. So I spent much of the evening in the prayer room yesterday. This resulted in me finally having some dreams.
The first dream, I was at my childhood home in northern Wisconsin. My boss, Kristen Anderson was there and someone had stolen the security system out of her car. She called the “car company” to see if they could replace it but they wouldn’t so they had to tow her car away.
At first I thought the dream was about Kristen and was going to tell her I thought I might have had a prophetic dream about her but when I told the dream to my OTHER boss, Dale, she mentioned that the place that the dream was taking place in was very significant and the scene was the home of my childhood.
So I pieced the symbols together. Kristen, is my boss, so this speaks of authority. The car speaks of ministry, and my parents were both pastors. The security system was stolen from them. It all started to make sense. When I was around 11 or 12 there were some serious issues in our church. It’s sort of a long story but one of the major major disruptions was when my dad was accused of stealing $10,000 from our church. A huge split happened and there were rumors spread all over my small town about my family. In the end, the truth was found out and it involved a mistake of someone else in the church. My parents ended up staying at this church for another five years but that year caused a lot of insecurity issues with my parents. At the time of this happening, I was really tough about the whole situation. I don’t remember feeling a lot pain, but definitely felt a lot of anger towards the people that were treating my family in this manner. I’ve always felt, for some reason, that I needed to be strong for my mom. I think my mom suffered more than anyone else in the situation. My dad handled the situation as well but I think that I internalized a lot of the pain I felt and covered it with an appearance of resolve and indignation at the injustice. Without knowing it, I believe that this scenario caused a deep level of insecurity in me because of the shattering of outward security in my parent’s lives. I will write more at another time.
I will add another dream (or what I can remember of it). This one I really have no clue what it is talking about but I’m hoping that someone else gets it.
I had moved back in with my grandmother in Little Rock. In my dream, I had a room there ready for me. It was a room from my childhood and I had a lot of other things from my childhood in the room. However, when I went to move into the room a girl I hardly know, named Joelle was in my room playing guitar. Like I said, I barely know Joelle, but I looked up the meaning of her name and it means “be willing”. Anyway, I saw her and I went into another room next door to this room. It was like I was talking to her through the wall of the two rooms and I was saying that I should have brought my keyboard so that we could worship together.
So I kind of think it is the Lord calling me out to be willing to see the painful things from my childhood but to worship Him in the midst of it. Yikes! If anyone else gets more interpretation from it, let me know. I’m curious to hear your thoughts.