What He’s Done
It was testimony-night at the small church. The roster of individuals who wanted to share grew as the evening progressed. Testimonies such as an addict who’d overcome his addiction overnight and has now remained drug free for over five years. A woman diagnosed with a brain tumor the size of a golf ball went in for more testing when the doctors, without medical explanation, discovered the tumor had disappeared. The reuniting of a praying parent and a prodigal child who found the Lord. Profound testimonies to the glory of God!
And then there were these demonstrations, the ones that confounded me. Their surrender to the Lord brought tears. An act of love, of letting go of their own desires. Of saying, “Not my will, but thine Lord Jesus!” A man in a wheelchair who the Lord spoke to promising he’d walk again. Twelve years had passed since the accident, and yet he still rolled rather than walked. The Lord helped him through discouragement and taught him how to wait with patience and hope. He has peace in the waiting. A woman who had a slew of afflictions, one after the other, and toxic relationships, and she’d learned to manage her life better and make better choices with diet and lifestyle. She witnessed you can’t always control every circumstance or even people, but you can control your response or reaction. Be faithful in the things you can control, beginning with the choices you can make right now. Another woman presented like a modern-day Job. Her house flooded, then it burned down; she lost her job, got divorced from an abusive man, went bankrupt, survived cancer, lost one of her children... What could she possibly be grateful for? And yet she was exuberant with divine joy.
The one most memorable for me was of a middle-aged man who’d lived a hard and promiscuous life. He’d contracted an STD and learned to live with it (also to speak frankly about it, which took admirable courage). Had once known the Lord, but wandered astray through temptations of the flesh in a hard-to-flee-from environment. When he returned and got anchored in the faith, he’d begged God to heal him of his disease so he could marry a godly woman. He determined he couldn’t marry until God healed him, as he wanted to present himself to the woman God had for him without the shame he carried, explaining that each flare-up was like a knife-stab reminder of the poor choices of his past. He also didn’t want to pass that on. God hadn’t healed him, and yet there he was, standing side-by-side with a godly woman, his wife, her hand on his arm. She was a pure soul. Hadn’t had the background or experience he’d had; truly an innocent. Yet there she was, devoted, adoring, selfless to him. She knew of his condition, of the risks, and she married him anyway. For the Lord called her—called them together. In fact, they were moving into full-time ministry together. Some might hear that, and if they were in her shoes, think, “Ew, not for me.” But I was really struck by the beauty of it. Still am.
So many distinct stories, conditions, situations and outcomes, and yet one common theme ran among all of them. Gratefulness for what he’s done.
He forgives our sins, makes us citizens of Heaven, giving us our true home, of belonging, unconditional love, a future, a destiny, a purpose. Sometimes he heals us; sometimes he promises to heal us and waits with us until that perfectly timed fruition, and sometimes he chooses not to heal us. And when it’s the latter, he helps us to manage our lives in him—and also can still bring us unexpected blessings from Heaven. He moves often in ways we haven’t considered. Keeps us surprised and delighted. The point is, he’s always there.
When we can lay everything down, let go of our own wishes and expectations, and press in to him… that’s when he fills us and makes us whole. When our spirits are whole, we are whole… no matter what our bodies or circumstances are doing. I love a good story of healing or deliverance. But I admit, it’s that last one, where healing wasn’t necessarily a physical one, yet the love and devotion demonstrated through that couple’s testimony, their marriage and ministry-calling is the one that moved me to write this blog post.
Have you watched as others have been set off, promoted, while you’re still waiting in the starting gate? Maybe you’re moving along in the race of life, but the pace isn’t what you’d thought and everybody is passing you up. Racehorses, brave, long-limbed, shiny, and brisk speed by in a furlong, two, three… eight… yet for all of your preparation, you haven’t even finished one. And your mount is not a racehorse at all, but a donkey. A beast of burden that has more whoa than go, no matter how you dig your heels in to spur it on. Sometimes the animal lowers its hind and sits on the track, refusing to budge. The amount of effort it takes for you to get the donkey off its rump and going again, moving ahead, is exhausting. And the breeze fanning your hair, caused by the magnificent horses whizzing past carrying their lightweight riders, doesn’t help. It doesn’t even inspire; in fact, it bums you out if you watch them for too long. Because everyone’s gotten a golden horse while you’re still riding that donkey.
Well, at least you’re on the racetrack. Just remember, Yeshua chose for himself a donkey to ride. The King of Peace will promote you when it’s his time. It will be unique and most outstanding, a surprise from heaven. Well worth the wait. You might even overtake all the other racehorses. I mean, God made a donkey talk to Balaam (Numbers 22:28-31). Donkeys are special. Who says yours won’t sprout wings like a Pegasus and fly you to the finish line? Ahead of all the pretty horses, even. Boom-boom and you’re there, just like that. Nothing is impossible to the all-things-possible God. Bada-bing, bada-boom; His timing is perfect. And if mythological flying animals aren’t your thing, then maybe your advancement looks more like this:
Keep on keepin’ on… You’re still in the race. The win is yours.
My Sparrow, I Love You
Your wilderness journey led you straight through a desert, taking years to cross. Your provisions dwindled; toes worn down to nubs. Bone-dry thirsty, malnourished, desperate for replenishing and decent covering from the scorch. You need a complete change of environment and nutritive balance. And here, you’ve not crossed the desert at all; you’ve only gone in circles. Rearranging the same old nest conditions in different patterns, just to survive—or give the appearance of survival; a place to tuck and rest your weary head. Around and round you go in the barren land of choked streams, stuck in a wash-n-dry cycle called The Agitator. The thorns of the desert cacti have shredded you, making the agitating stings more abrasive. Fear you carry isn’t that something bad will happen; it’s the dread that things will stay the same, that nothing will change.
“God, are you even there?” you ask.
“My Sparrow, I love you.
Have I not said, ‘I am with you always, even unto the end of the world?’”
“God, what do I do?”
“My Sparrow, I love you.
‘Be still, and know that I am God.’ Just be in me.”
“God, do you still care?”
“My Sparrow, I love you.
Has it not been written, ‘Give all your worries and cares to me, for I care about you?’
I care so much that ‘I’ve kept track of all your sorrows. I’ve collected all your tears in my bottle. I’ve recorded each one in my book.’ Not one will be forgotten. Not one goes unnoticed. Trust me to handle your life in the best way, my way. I will carry you with my wings.”
“I feel forgotten, useless—” You think you hear a faint melody.
“My Sparrow, I love you.
‘Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.’”
There’s a pause.
“My Child, I Love You. Isn’t that enough?”
🎶 His Eye is on the Sparrow… 🎶
The Bomb Technician, an Allegory
There was once a person who hadn’t intended to be a bomb technician and wished they were something—anything—else. If only they could’ve predicted or seen from the beginning what they knew later, their life would have looked very different. They weren’t always skilled at identifying dangerous devices in a threatened area nor deactivating or disassembling the explosives. In fact, they got their start as the cleanup crew of only one, taking care of whole messes after they erupted, clearing the damage and spaces of shrapnel and debris. Even acting as a paramedic and patching wounds, deep or small. A rota never existed; nobody was scheduled to relieve them. They’d been all alone dealing with the volatile environment 24/7. They worked their way up to recognizing and diffusing danger, got good at it, skilled. Turned something destructive into something more static. Sometimes, though, sometimes they deflected the disparaging elements. Wedged a portion under a dead tree stump; hiding it from the public because of shame. Because their position, which never should have evolved in the first place, went on for too long, and what they daily faced proved hard to endure. The pressure behind such things never dissipated; in fact, felt insurmountable.
But what they tucked under that dead old stump didn’t just collect into a mound of rubble. Instead, the start of a sprig, something tender, fresh, and green pierced from beneath the hard ground and unforgiving places of concrete and gravel. The sprig became a new tree, and the living trunk grew wide and strong. Its roots went deep to where the black soil provided rich nutrients. The mighty cedar soon towered over the hidden things that had wrought such chaos and, in fact, smothered the negative forces. It overpowered cannonballs, dynamite, and other fused components, detoxifying, purifying as it reached toward the heavens. Its branches spread open and wide, providing shade to the scorched and shelter to the displaced. Its call was for helping others, but in a way that differed from thwarting disasters, especially of the human-terrorist type. Yet growing well while stuck in that unstable environment provided it the understanding necessary to gain essential nourishment and peace of the everlasting kind, and safety for the distressed. It thought its field wherein it’d planted its roots was fallow. Instead, its field had been prepared for the splendor of an entire forest of breathtaking beauty.
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19
Dear Bomb Technician: He makes a way where there is no way. He makes all things fresh, new, and different. Things will change. You’ve sensed this; you’ve known things have to change. Situations, while they lasted for many seasons, will not stay the same. If the hazardous devices you face are from a cyclical circumstance, work, relationship, or condition, and you’re burned out, tired of putting out the fuses alone, and sick of being so achingly lonely while doing it; lift up your eyes. Soak in the Spirit. Listen to the wind, which causes the leaves of the wilderness to dance and branches to sway in delirious freedom. Inhale the woodsy scents of other cedars. Lift your eyes to the heavens and know the promises whispered to your heart will rain down upon you. The Spirit is like the wind. You don’t know from where it comes, from where it starts, but SUDDENLY, it’s there, flowing over you, refreshing your soul. Sailing you into crystal waters, brighter beginnings, enhanced positions, thoughtful relationships, and greatest joy, where the deepest longings of your heart find fulfillment. Expansion awaits, for all that your spirit-filled life can hold and release, grow and heal, and love.
“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.” Psalm 92:12
Are You a Wild One?
Have you been stranded in the wilderness, figuratively speaking? Dwelling in dehydration, exposed to the discomforts of harsh elements, drained of healthy energy by the rationing of pure sustenance? Enduring aloneness, lacking encouragement, affirmation, or positive feedback? Are you a spiritual outcast? Do you have gifts of the Holy Spirit that have been by-and-large choked by mainstream corporate church and you don’t quite fit in because how the Lord gifted you and/or how you should operate is not supported, stimulated, or even accepted? A believing, faith-filled outcast wondering what the point is and where your purpose rests? Do you live or serve in an environment where you have little emotional joy?
The wilderness experience is often referenced as a time of spiritual dryness. But often it’s in the wilderness that we establish our identity, who we are in God. We exercise our faith. We face our fears. The Lord in his grace provides for us and we end up pressing in to him as our compass. Focusing on him, our guide, to lead us out, where we are stronger, fitter than when we first entered hauling in the messy landscape of our lives (everything but the kitchen sink). We enter weighed down and heavy. But we leave with nothing but Jesus, whose yoke is easy and burden light.
For some, the wilderness season has lasted decades, and you’ve pursued the Lord with your whole heart. But now you’ve made it through, you survived. You’re at the last line of trees before the clearance to move on out. And you’re waiting for his “Go” command, because you’ve grown to know only HIS voice in the wilderness, and you respect it, revere it, trust him implicitly. At the appointed time, you expect to take his promised hand that leads you fearlessly to what he has “out there” for you, the promised land.
The wilderness was a necessary course of training. You learn about the only map that matters, the Word, and that serves as divine navigation. For us, and for others. The wilderness provokes us to speak and share of our experiences.
I am a wild one. I know spiritual wilderness. So when I found a contemporary book calling out to me, I both rejoiced and mentally recapitulated my journeying up to now. I must have dogeared every other page, top and bottom. I know there are leagues of others for who this book was intended and written.
Freedom to exercise gifts of the Spirit, and creative and unusual ideas at last put to use. The hidden, marginalized, voiceless, quieted ones; outcasts on the fringe. The ones who haven’t quite fit into institutionalized church protocols, or have been tamped by the tight structure of its programs, yet have gifts of the Spirit burning to be activated; the ones who wish to seek the will of the Father regardless of what it looks or sounds like to man… This book is for you:
The Wild Ones: Prophetic Survival Guide (The pioneer call of emerging voices from the wilderness to the frontlines)
The chapters, like rites of passage, each finish with “Prophetic Survival Keys” and a “Campfire Prayer” to keep us revving and warm. Ripe for the time, I highly, highly recommend this book! I pray the Lord increases your spiritual territory and magnifies your divine giftings as you read this book. And I pray the Lord multiply blessings to the author, prophet, and worship leader, Nate Johnston, for blessing, confirming, affirming, encouraging, inspiring, and motivating what has felt like the lost and forgotten remnant of Jesus followers. Here we go, into the next great roiling wave of revival, church reformation, and outreach of prophetic voices the world has ever seen. Are you ready, fellow wild one?
“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve that purpose for which I sent it.”—Isaiah 55:10-11 (NIV)
is a storyteller, and a transcript editor. She's also a Romans 8:28 kind of Jewish girl ...
RETURN MY HEART