No, I have not picked up the baton to re-enter an exhausting race of scheduled deadlines and compulsory tasks. I have actually been enjoying the freedom of spending as much time as I want -- any time I want -- with God and listening to what He might have to impart to me. I hadn't realized just how quiet He had been until I stopped my tasks in this physical world to spend time in the spiritual world. And I can tell you that I don't like the silence. But I now know the truth behind His instruction to "Be still". How can I know Him if I am not devoting every cell in my body to experience Him?
I have learned so much in just a few short days. I learned how lonely it can be to be out of the presence of God... to be in that proverbial desert; thirsty and alone and wandering. My prayers seemed to hit some invisible wall and bounce back to me, unopened and unanswered. I searched my heart for some forgotten sin, and even scheduled a subsequent Deliverance Session to see what might be blocking my intimacy with my Father. That took care of some areas that needed God's Light shined on them, and I received freedom and restoration. But I knew that there was still some aspect that I couldn't identify that was keeping me separated from God.
I knew it wasn't a matter of reading my Bible more, or praying more, or bearing more fruit. I had all that covered, but somehow things were different between Him and me. I had forgotten that God didn't need me to do things FOR Him. He just desires me to be WITH Him. I had forgotten that He created me to have a special, intimate relationship with Him; a relationship that none of the rest of His creation enjoys. I had forgotten to include Him in all the work I was doing for Him. I had gotten quite competent in preparing to teach at our Home Church; I was passionate about what I wanted to share with you in my blog postings; and I was becoming increasingly comfortable with our model of Deliverance, which relies on hearing from Jesus and the Holy Spirit. But I had to ask myself if I was still in awe of Their Presence in the lives of the precious people who came to us for inner healing, or if I was taking Jesus and the Holy Spirit for granted?
I honestly don't know if I am guilty of these things, but they are the self-examining thoughts I've had over the last several days, and the fact that I can't give a resounding "No!" to any of the charges has given me serious pause. And I have to admit that I'm not proud of that doubtfulness. But I have made some changes in my life, and put God back where He belongs ... as the Priority in my life. In fact, I have let some "worldly" things slide. My fleshly obligations begin much later in the day, as I make the effort to slow down my pace and try to visit in the spirit with my Heavenly Father each morning. I've got to admit, it was painful the first couple of mornings, because I still felt His absence. But I pressed in, knowing He was there ... maybe just out of my sight and reach, but still there.
Then this morning, He turned His face towards me! The drought is beginning to lift! I still have a ways to go, but I am sensing renewal. In a moment of stillness, I sought Him and He made His presence known! I could give you a description of the personal images that I saw, but they are unique to me and my life. But I want you to know that there is a very real realm where God exists and rules, and it is different than what we experience here on earth.
Colossians 1:16 says that all things are created by Him, both visible and invisible. We see evidence of Him in this physical world ... the miracle of childbirth; a spectacular sunset; the stars in the sky, and the order of the seasons. But I urge you to seek Him in the invisible realm; that place where your spirit resides alongside Jesus (Ephesians 2:6). You don't have to settle for just talking to Him in your prayers -- your spirit can see Him, and walk with Him, and talk with Him in the Heavenly places.
And I know this sounds like crazy talk to many of you, because it is a concept that you've probably never heard in the traditional Church. But the God that spoke to Abraham and to Moses and to Noah, Joshua, Samuel, David, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and a host of prophets and people down through the ages is the same God that can [and will] speak to you. He still inspires and instructs and expresses His love, disappointment, and mercy in the same way as He's done from the beginning. He is our Immutable God; the God who never changes. Never doubt that He wants to interact with you. And don't be like me ... when you are aware of His silence, don't waste a minute to put everything else on hold so you can stop and listen for His footstep, or the faint sound of His voice. And when you hear it, you run towards Him and call out His Name! Get somewhere quiet, close your eyes and shut out this world. Then listen for the sound of Him turning towards you, and let your spirit be free to hear His voice and feel what it's like to rest in the arms of our loving Father.
This is perhaps one of the most difficult things to write about; to describe what it is like to be, as the Apostle John says in Revelation 4, "Immediately, I was in the spirit". And I don't want to diminish its importance by making it sound make-believe, or fantastical. I just want to leave you with this encouraging thought ... if you feel like you're in the desert or the wilderness -- anywhere that God is conspicuously absent -- it's not because He's abandoned you. Examine your life and see if you have made time for Him. If you discover that you have let this world control you, stop in your tracks, and make the necessary changes to make Him the Lord of your life and your primary concern each and every day. Then be prepared for some extraordinary, out-of-this-world experiences as you enjoy a closeness and familiarity with your Creator and Father. Our times spent in the desert do not need to become habitations for doubt and detachment from God. Rather experience them, as I am doing, as places for deep spiritual renewal. Meet with Him, and watch your desert begin to bloom.
Isaiah 35:7 The scorched land will become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; In the haunt of jackals, its resting place, Grass becomes reeds and rushes.