Oh, that you were like my brother,
Who nursed at my mother’s breasts!
If I should find you outside,
I would kiss you;
I would not be despised.
To some, this post might be a little ironic… almost contradicting itself, I suppose. Really, any of my posts might be contradicting this passage and it’s symbolism but I will take the risk in sharing my thoughts on it.
The first line in this passage feels a little creepy to me. I have two brothers and never in my life have I wished that my boyfriend were my brother. Gross. But if we look at the historical context of this passage we might have a better understanding of what Solomon meant on a cultural level.
In ancient times it was completely unacceptable for a woman to show affection to anyone other than her immediate family. It was okay for a woman to give her a brother a hug and a peck on the cheek but never was it okay for her to show affection to someone of the opposite sex that she was not blood related to.
In this passage, the Shulamite is reflecting on how she wishes she didn’t have to show public restraint in her affection for the King but she knows that it is the appropriate thing to do. She knows that there are private personal happenings between the bride and her groom that must be kept protected and covered from prying eyes. She also sees that keeping these things to herself keeps them from being exploited and misintepreted. “But it is so hard!”, she thinks. “I am so excited about all of the precious treasures we have between us. How can I not share this revelation that is so wonderful? How can I not share these intimate experiences that I cannot stop thinking of?”
The Shulamite has learned from past experiences that she must use wisdom and discretion when speaking of her deep affection for the King. Not that she doesn’t share her love for Him and live out His love to others but sharing the deep private things that he secretly gives her have caused problems before.
As I was reading this passage before bed last night the Lord reminded me of times where I had shared revelation and encounters that He had given me that were supposed to have been kept private. It’s maturity to understand what revelation should be shared and who you should share it with. It’s maturity to restrain ourselves, even in the excitement of receiving knowledge and secrets from the Lord.
Joseph didn’t get this lesson early on. He received dreams from God that were very offensive to his brothers and it resulted in Joseph going through some very difficult seasons. Even as I have talked about my relationship with the Lord and various encounters that I have had, I have been accused of “not being myself”. With some dreams that I have had I have been accused of much, much worse. There have been moments that others did not understand and were offended at visions and encounters but I was too excited to realize how offended they were until it was too late.
The truth is, when God speaks to us about ourselves or about a difficult situation surrounding us, He speaks in a language that we will understand. If He gives that revelation for your sake alone, it is true that others will not understand the language He speaks in and it will cause a lot of confusion. However, ironically, if He gives us a word for another person many times we don’t understand that word because He gives it in language that only the other person will understand (which is why we must always pray for interpretation or give the word exactly how we received it).
My exhortation to you is to pray about what to share and to not to share with the Lord. If you are very demonstrative about your love for the Lord, that is awesome! I believe God has called every one of us to be expressive in our love for Jesus but be aware that Jesus also cherishes special moments between you and Him. You don’t always have to share these. Some of you, Jesus is calling to a place of humility in this area. I think in part, it is due to the Lord’s protection from the judgement of others but it also has to do with not “puffing ourselves up” before man and striving for others to see us on a higher spiritual plane. It is called “the secret place” for a reason.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2-3
This week I was having some time with the Lord before work. I was cuddled up under my raindbow-colored throw looking at YouVersion on my phone when this verse popped up. I stared at it for awhile. I mean I know that I’ve read this verse thousands of times over the years but this time the words didn’t seem to make sense… at all. I think we can skim over scripture and be so quick to nod our heads in agreement just because something sounds good but sometimes I wonder if we really believe the words we’re reading.
This time, I wasn’t so sure I believed the scriptures. The words just seemed way too far-fetched. How in the world can a “trial” produce joy? I mean, I wished it was true but when I examined my trials they didn’t produce anything but misery. But then I remembered last Sunday.
Last Sunday morning I was up before church chatting with Jesus. I suppose chatting might not be the correct term, however. I was sitting there with Him when I heard Him say something very peculiar to me. He told me to tell Him exactly what I felt about Him and our relationship. So I did. And it wasn’t pretty. I basically told Him I was tired of getting excited and happy about things only to have the rug pulled out from under my feet. I was so tired of it in fact that I had gotten to the point that I was scared to be happy or excited about anything at all. In a very weepy/angry voice I asked Him the proverbial question: don’t you care about me anymore? What is strange is that I had no idea these things were in my heart until they started rolling out of my mouth.
And another funny thing happened. As those words came out of my mouth, the lie that had been locked in my chest for the past three and a half years left with them. I realized just how ridiculous that was. If I believed that He cared so much about everybody else then what was I? Chopped liver?
During the course of the day while praying with some friends, I came to the conclusion that Jesus had allowed me to be crushed so many times partly because this lie needed to be exposed. I had tried to maintain control apart from Him so many times because I didn’t think He cared enough about me to “handle” things.
So this is partly what I think James meant when He said to consider it pure joy when we encounter trials. These trials are what strip away the lies, if we are prepared to look really hard and be honest with our hearts. But once these lies are exposed, truth fills up these cavernous places. This truth is the passionate affection of a loving God who deeply, deeply cares about our needs and desires. Who knows our anxieties and sorrows, having identified with all of them. When we encounter this reality in a powerful way, then we have encountered pure joy. Imagine having the ecstasy of feeling His emotions and thoughts toward us. An all-powerful, all-consuming, genuinely compassionate, totally other-than God whose heart burns with love for us. It’s joy and bliss and everything most of us have never experienced in the purest way. It’s faith in who He is, regardless of what we see and it’s the joy in knowing who He is that helps us persevere until we get to the end of all of the difficulties.
Jesus, help us to look at these hard times as proof that you love us. Expose all of the lies in our hearts that tell us you don’t care about our hurt or pain. Be with us and reveal Your thoughts about us. Though we go through tough times, Jesus let us feel your love wash over us… give us revelation of your heart and affections. We love you God, whether things look wonderful or not. Be glorified in our lives and give us passion for Your Son.
Tonight after my mom and I spent time in preparation for my move on Wednesday I was in the mood to write something. But this time I was finally feeling like myself again… for the first time in weeks. My heart finally felt free again. So I asked Jesus tonight what I should write on and I heard that phrase, “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” I knew this was somewhere in the Bible but I couldn’t recall where so I looked it up and found it quoted in Nehemiah 8:10.
Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
I think as Christians we can ponder too much on how hard things are. Especially when we are going through difficult circumstances. We try to turn it into this huge teaching lesson. We think that going through temptations and trials will make us holier… more righteous… that these tough situations will make us stronger. But the truth is, dwelling on the yucky stuff just makes us more miserable. We might be resisting the enemy but just barely. We let our hearts remain sick and in despair actually thinking that it will be to our benefit someday. That is soooo messed up!!!!
In this passage in Nehemiah, the people of Israel realized how much they had strayed from the purposes and plans God had for them. They realized they had missed out on so much by not walking in His will and under His protection. They were devastated! And what do you do when you are devastated? You scream and cry and get really really sad! But Nehemiah saw their despair and knew that what would benefit them more was rejoicing in who God is. God had come to their rescue and this was something to get excited about. New things were happening in Israel. They were starting over again and God was providing everything they needed to walk in His will from there forward.
I started to think about how much I had been focused on the hard stuff and wasn’t taking the time to get excited and enjoy all of the awesome things God was doing in my life. There is a lot going on right now that I should be joyful about. I now see that focusing on what’s ahead instead of what I’m leaving behind is going to be worth it. As I dwell on all of these hopes and awesome plans God has for me, my heart is strengthened and I feel might breaking in on my heart.
Whatever you are going through and whatever choices you face, just know that there is something so much better waiting around the corner for you. If you feel that you are settling for something far below what you know Jesus has spoken to you about, put your hope in the joy that is ahead. Don’t give up.
Today I have been reflecting on the craziness that was 2011. This year has been one of the most brutal years of my life but a choice comes with living through difficulty. I could have chosen to live in bitterness and anger or I could have learned something about myself, about God and about what authentic community and leadership looks like. This is not to say that I didn’t spend months in bitterness and anger. Forgiveness is a process that the Holy Spirit must partner with us in. It’s not always an instantaneous decision. No amount of coercion, “pep talks” and advice-giving is going to help a person to forgive. It’s something that is simply between that person, God, and the one who offended. It wasn’t just forgiveness that I was dealing with, however, but grief and loss. And during those moments, a friend who listens as you sort out your heart, is one of the most valuable commodities a person can have. I am thankful to have a few of those people in my life this year.
It wasn’t until about two months ago that the Lord met me and the traumatic memories and tormenting thoughts began to leave. Unforgiveness leaves us stuck. There is really no other word to describe it. It keeps us from moving forward and instead we are constantly mulling over the hurt while secretly wanting the other person to be as hurt as we are. The problem is… the other person just doesn’t care. They’ve already moved on with their life and we are still choosing to suffer while unable to move forward in the plan Jesus has for us.
Two months ago I went to Waco, Texas for a conference. I traveled with some new friends from here in Little Rock and I got to meet up and spend the rest of the weekend with my old roommate and others that I have been friends with for years now. The whole weekend was incredibly healing for me. Not only did I receive a powerful word from Jesus who showered me with love and affection but I felt loved by the people around me. It was then that I remembered that I had so much to be grateful for. I remembered that the body of Christ can truly be a safe place; a place of refuge. And I guess connecting on a deeper level with friends here in Little Rock helped me to distract myself from all that has happened and it helped me to move on into relationships that were life-giving and brought me joy.
I guess I have become a grateful person. Grateful for the deliverance of Jesus and grateful for His transforming power in my life. However, no community is perfect. There are still unsafe people who have yet to mature and heal in every local body. Being open with everyone isn’t always wise but as I navigate certain situations and relationships, I value the friends that I can trust. Their honesty and forthrightness isn’t about control or competitiveness. I don’t worry about these friends gossiping behind my back. It is clearly about love. Whether it is helping me to keep a level head in moments of giddiness, exhorting me to have boundaries with a boy, reminding me to be patient and strong, or gently encouraging me to let go of anger– I’m happy to have people in my life that work as different parts of one body. And I remember that I am one of those body parts too!
There have been new developments in my life since two months ago. Some are on the down-low for awhile until it’s time to reveal and others are plain to see like getting a really good job which will allow me to pay off debt so I can keep doing the things He has called me to do. I purchased a new car. I am helping to lead worship again and love every minute of leading others into His presence. And most importantly, I get to love on and encourage people all the time! This is definitely a weird phase of life for me and it is not without some sacrifices but what started out as a year in hell is turning out to be bringing the love of heaven to earth.
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 went to hang out with some friends in my new church tonight and came home so encouraged about the sovereignty of God in my life. The Lord has clearly placed me in this community for the season I am in and I believe these people are just what the “Doctor” ordered. The entire night consisted of us talking about the things of God, praying for each other and ministering the prophetic word to each other. It was all about love and everyone was seeking to encourage each other. Every time I have hung out with this particular group I have felt completely at ease without having to deal with a cloud of judgment, jealousy, competition or control looming over me. This is what FREEDOM truly looks like.
I got to thinking about what an amazing journey I have been on since 2003. How the Lord has divinely directed me and that each moment of my life has been entirely orchestrated by Jesus. He is such an amazing leader. I remember my friend and old roommate once telling me… “Brooke. I have never seen anything like this before. The Lord has you on such an amazing journey. He has sovereignly directed your steps… sometimes without you even knowing it.” My heart fully agreed with this statement.
Aug 2003: Devastating personal event. Moved to Dallas/Fort Worth. Was about to go off the deep end as my life seemed to be getting worse and I was drowning in sin. Went to the wrong church by “mistake” where a pastor stopped his sermon to prophesy over me. Gave me word of knowledge after word of knowledge and then prophesied about the call of God on my life as well as my future… umm… family.
Dec 2003: Roommate suggested I check out a church called Resurrection Center in downtown Dallas. I was still not walking with the Lord but was desperate for some hope in my life. I thought I would be able to hide in the back and observe the service from the sidelines but instead a group of girls virtually attacked me. A day later they called me and continually called me days after that including showing up at my apartment spontaneously and kidnapping me.
Spring 2004: Friend Karissa started to disciple me and speak into my life about my destiny in the Lord. I told her I was not at all interested in “going to the nations” or doing ministry of any kind (No one in my church knew I could sing until right before I left for Kansas City). I did, however, begin working at our church coffee shop on Friday and Saturday nights. The cafe was on the down-low and was not located in the church but was a part of the other businesses in Deep Ellum. It was fun building relationships with people in the neighborhood and serving my church in this way.
Jan 2005: I am living with Karissa’s sister, Missy and my other roommate Denise. We later move into another house with three other girls. Karissa has since moved to Waco, Texas where she went to missions school. She is now a missionary in India with her husband, Blake. I went through an intense spiritual battle during this time and my roommates loved me and cared for me all the way through it. Relationships weren’t always perfect but we remain close friends to this day. I would have never been able to make it through this time period without those two girls in my life. I am so grateful for those two girls.
During this month, also… I went to World Mandate in Waco, Texas. It is a missions event that Karissa’s new church, Antioch, puts on each year. I didn’t go because I loved the nations. I went because Karissa made me. As everyone went to the classes on missions in the Middle East, I felt God speak something very clearly to me during worship– “Go to the class on missions in Europe”. I felt it so strongly that I obeyed. During this time a British woman came up to me and gave me a word, “You have been on a very difficult journey. The Lord has brought you out of so much. He wants you to know that He is going to keep His promise. It is going to happen but it will be quite some time from now.” I am writing this with tears in my eyes.
Fall 2005: During the summer my friend Nathan harassed me about joining staff for his intercession ministry “Save Dallas”. I told him no. Then something really bad happened. I knew it had to do with spiritual warfare… I decided that I should probably join an intercession ministry. On that exact same day he called me again (2 months after he first asked me) and asked me again to join. This time I said yes.
Dec 2005: As a ministry, Save Dallas went to the Onething conference in Kansas City. Nathan had asked me to join this ministry because he knew I secretly loved to pray and spend time with Jesus. He knew I was an intercessor. So we went and I was completely rocked. The moment Shelley Hundley began praying, I began crying. I cried through the entire first service as they talked about the “Anna calling”. I knew this was exactly who I was. A woman that was called to sit before the Lord night and day. I decided to do an internship in Kansas City… which was completely beyond my realm of comfort, btw.
April 2006: Huge devastation regarding a relationship. It was the beginning of the end of a huge spiritual battle in my heart. I was to leave for IHOP a month later.
June 2006: Began the Fire in the Night internship at IHOP. Was completely offended by a lot of things at first (except the Endtimes teaching which I had secretly believed since high school). God began to change my heart a lot. I saw male leadership that would fight for my heart and truly had compassion and concern for healing in my life. The Word of God opened up to me in a new way. I thrived on six hours of prayer in the middle of the night. It felt like this was what I was made for.
However… instead of choosing to move back to Dallas in September the Lord spoke to me to stay in Kansas City and come on staff. My friends and pastor in D were not too thrilled with this but I knew it was the Lord.
Jan 2007: Officially moved to Kansas City. Homesick for my friends and wanted to move back. God taught me complete trust in the area of finances. What a powerful lesson he took me on in this season. Went on an intense healing journey with the Lord for two more years.
May 2007: Had a powerful encounter with the Lord as I was walking to the prayer room one day. The Lord spoke to me and said “you are going to the nations.” I told Him, “no way. I want to stay here.” He said, “you’re going to Europe. So there.” I was floored. That night I had one of the most powerful encounters of my life. Have NEVER felt the presence of God like that since. Felt Him open up my heart and pour in compassion for the nations. I felt His emotions for myself and the lost. I was stuck to my chair for four hours. Couldn’t move. Sat and wept the entire time. This was the beginning of a series of prophetic happenings about the UK which continued through the summer until I made my way to England in September of that year.
2007-2008: Received a series of powerful prophetic dreams almost every single night concerning my destiny. Summer of 2008 God spoke to me and told me I would be leaving IHOP in a year.
Fall 2008: Went through an intensive inner healing program at IHOP where God did a major work in my life and continued to teach me so much about His heart for the broken. I began to really love ministering to those in my group, praying and prophesying over them. I was later asked to be a leader for the program but didn’t feel the Lord was releasing me to do this.
Summer of 2009 to Spring 2011 : God told me I would be leaving IHOP very soon. Confirmed clearly where I was suppose to go. I moved to a small town for reasons only He fully knows and I am just beginning to understand. We’ll skip over the rest of it.
Present: Waiting. Waiting, waiting, waiting. My plans are to move to Waco and become part of Antioch but I will not go until He tells me. The Lord definitely has interesting plans for me where I’m at right now. I love the community I am a part of and it has already been a very healing time for me. I’m excited to see what God will do in my heart in this season.
I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for His leadership in my life… through the good times and the really difficult times. Even in this last tragic episode in my life, I was reading through some dreams I had just a few weeks before the event occurred and saw that I had dreamed about the exact scenario without realizing it was really going to happen to me. Even then he was preparing my heart for what was to come. He is so GOOD like that.
So the last several months have been a really tough season for me. The Lord has been exposing so much in my heart so that it can be healed… but not only that… He’s using this pain to draw me to Him. I can feel His pleasure and goodness once again wash over me. He is such an amazing Friend. He is such an absolutely adoring Savior. Nothing compares to this strong, beautiful Bridegroom God. Coming back from this trip, I once again feel hope. The Lord had been working on me during the entire three weeks but it wasn’t until the very last day in Kansas City… on Sunday that He gripped my heart in such a way that it wasn’t about my issues anymore… it wasn’t about pain or discomfort or bitterness or any of the other awful things going on that I’ve been trying to work through…
For the first time in a long time, my encounter with Him had to do with ME and HIM… together. And I’m learning once again as He whispers to me that He has missed me, that He enjoys me… that He is captivated by me… that He is a FUN God! He dances and sings and laughs and smiles and He is so wonderfully wonderful to be around.
In some ways, even though it is obviously not entirely true… I feel like I’m meeting Him for the first time. And I’m so glad we have re-introduced ourselves.