Part 6: The Breath of God

Welcome to Part 6 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is introducing us to the Breath of God that arises in our open and honest laments. Bettie and Anna also welcome you to join them in prayer at the end of this post. We both look forward to sharing the chapters for this new part with you soon, which we will add to the bottom of this post.

Have you explored Biblical Lament?  I must admit, when I first read this phrase several years ago, I thought it sounded just a bit antiquated, for another era or time.  However, as I was reading Discovering Hope, by Cindee Snider Re, I found a beautiful perspective on the subject of suffering and expressing our hearts to God.

I realized that many of my favorite Psalms are actually Biblical Laments:

Psalm 63:1
“O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.”
Psalm 13:1-2
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me
forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

I grew up in a strict church setting, where GOOD was always emphasized. Consequently, many have attributed a kindness to me personally that may have just been one more way that my church-girl self chose to keep the GOOD-RULE activated.  

My older brothers will never forget my “God-Forgive” Stage. Any time I saw myself (or anyone in my close circle, for that matter) speak or do anything out of line, I was quick to speak, “Better say ‘God forgive!’”  Cute, coming from a 7-year-old, but rather excessive when I’ve realized I still carry the trappings of that 7-year-old thought process in my heart today.

Speaking a dark thought?  “Say God-Forgive!”

Uttering a harsh phrase?  “Say God-Forgive!”

Mulling over doubt-filled questions?  “Say God-Forgive!”

But where does all of that leave a person who is cluttered with questions about the dreary days that chronic illness creates?  . . . 

Drifting in a barren land where the breath is quenched and searching is cut off.  In a culture that idolizes fitness and health, the quenching days easily multiply to become a state of denial.  And “OK” becomes the rote answer for how we are feeling. 

Have we, in the Church, missed something when we have emphasized GOOD-SPEAK, at the expense of Honest-Speak? 

So, as I heard God’s gentle prompting, I began the process of looking at the Lament happening in my heart:

Oh my Lord, I lay
my weary body down
The weight of this pain
has crushed my soul
for too many days

Yet my heart
still seeks and looks
to you
for a hand-hold in the cliff

How high must I climb?
How long is the journey?
How wide is the sea?
How deep is the trial?

In your hand is relief
The only tonic
to quench my thirst
In your embrace
will the comfort be found
far from the world’s taunts

My Jesus have mercy
My Savior sweet Lord.

I know I have much to learn in this place of honest lamenting with God.  It’s not a matter of learning how to complain–strange how being in a state of denial actually increases the ability to complain long and loud.  

No, this is a lesson in exploring the deep crevices of a rocky landscape, and finding God’s Spirit waiting for me there.

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life which God has promised for all those who love him.”  James 1:12

I tend to view my progress through these days, ESPECIALLY because I feel so weak, as so many failed efforts at learning what I am supposed to.  But if this Scripture is true, that perseverance itself is a form of obedience, then I need to shift my judgment of myself to a more grace-filled plane.

  God is giving me such grace here: 

Not only is Jesus NOT offended by my weakness, But He is actually pleased with my plodding and stumbling gait proving His persevering heart of flesh in me through the trial.

And now years later, after I wrote that first Lament to the Lord,

How high must I climb?
How long is the journey?
How wide is the sea?
How deep is the trial?

He has uncovered an even deeper cry in my heart. One that answers His breath in me, His life that has been growing in my physical body, His own body, His true temple.

In each breaking and pain-filled place He is uncovering more of His strength in me. His breath is becoming my very breath, as He is revealing the truth that we are indeed Temples of His Holy Spirit. And in every breaking with the larger Body of Christ, each lamenting has in fact only uncovered His deeper, wider, longer and higher love breathing and beating in me for each and every member of His Body. He is revealing His true transformation in me, as I hear myself now crying:

How high is Your love?
How long is Your love?
How wide is Your love?
How deep is Your love for us?

Do you also long to join Anna and I on this lifelong journey of lament? Do you also long to pour out your heart in all honesty before our LORD and Maker and to listen for His response? Then, we invite you to walk with us through this new part – Part 6 The Breath of God – as we recover the delight of living in the breath of our God.

We long to share with you how our very weakness – through chronic illness – has been leading us into honest and open laments before our Heavenly Father that are awakening the breath of our God and the heart of Jesus in us.

Will you join us as we begin this new part of Arise and Shine in prayer?

Father God, thank You that You are a God who sees our pain and the deep surrenders You are calling us to. Remind us that it is You who yield our hearts to Your will, that all You call us to do is to come, just as we are. Thank You that You have never ever left our side. Thank You that our very surrenders shall become a testament to the depth, width, length and height of Your love at work in us. 

Thank You that You stand there with open arms to comfort us, as grief comes calling, and we are reminded of all that we have already released into Your hands. Help us not to bottle up our pain in anger, or numb it away in religious striving, but to entrust our whole heart to You, that You may breathe Your Word of life and hope into us. For we know that faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of God.

Inscribe the truth of Isaiah 51:12-16 on our hearts. Help us not to be afraid of man who dies, the son of man who is made like grass that withers. Help us not to forget You, our LORD, our Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth. 

Let us not fear continually all day long because of the wrath of our oppressor, when he sets himself to destroy. Remind us that we who are bowed down shall speedily be released; we shall not die and go down to the pit, neither shall our bread be lacking. For You are the Lord our God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord of hosts is Your name.

You have put Your words in our mouth and covered us in the shadow of Your hand, establishing the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth, and saying to Zion, ‘You are my people.’” Yes, from the depths of Your Son’s heart in us, we shall yet praise You from the rising to the setting of the sun. We declare that even at night You shall call forth praise in us through Your Holy Spirit’s breath in us and in our brothers and sisters in Christ You have placed around us

Thank You that Your messengers of light encamp around those who fear You, LORD. Thank You for surrounding us with Your Body, from near and far, as we bow our knees before You to pour out our lament before You. Open our hearts to receive You and the breath of heaven You are sending out even now to awaken us in Your love

Break the dams of our unbelief, that Your rivers of justice may roll freely in and through us, and that Your streams of righteousness may refresh us and many more waiting hearts. Make glad Your holy city, oh LORD. Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit; let the earth cause them both to sprout; for You, our LORD have created it.

Open our mouths wide to declare Your compassion in our weakness and Your kindness and mercy to us in our sin, as we turn toward You, and not away. Wash us as white as snow that others may see the hope and life and joy to which You call each one of us. Breathe mightily in our midst, oh LORD. Let Your glory be revealed in and through us. Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon our garden, let its spices flow. Let our beloved come to his garden, and eat its choicest fruits.

Awaken a hunger and thirst in us that cannot be satisfied in this world, that we may come to seek You not just with a part of our heart, but our whole heart, laying bare our sorrow, our longing and our pain before You that You might fill us to overflowing with Your Word and breath of life.

Take each one of us through these days of testing and bring Your truth out into the open. Let nothing remain hidden, as You are our Primary Caregiver.  And show us the peace that You have been planting already in us, as we walk into the new with You. Thank You for YOUR change of seasons as we live in Your love for those around us.

Open the words that You pour over us in our lamenting to reach others who are longing to know the depth of Your love also, and to feel Your breath stirring in their own lungs. Show each one of us where You are breathing new life already. And never stop calling us into laments that awaken Your breath and heart in us, until the day You unveil Yourself fully in us.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Made Glad

As Bettie and I continue to pray and wait on the LORD for direction for Arise and Shine, I would love to share a free will offering of praise with you today.

Thank you for your prayers for me yesterday: you are God’s blessing to me. Look at the verse I opened up my Bible app to in the morning, as I traveled on the train to a hospital in another city for a long day of heart testing:

It reminded me of the visiting opera singer, who felt a prompting to go sing a hymn in a hospital chapel – the chapel my Dad, recovering from a heart bypass operation, felt a strong urge to visit as his heart heaved through waves of grief. My Dad told me she was like the voice of an angel, as that hymn wrapped him in the love and comfort of God.

Funnily my verse to pray through today was about the angel of the LORD encamping around those who fear the Him. That Word angel also means messenger of God and priest. Today, through Christ, each member of His Body are royal priests – each of us are messengers of God to each other- just as that woman was to my Dad.

As I walked in the forest this morning, and reflected on my friend Debbie’s blog post and the Scriptures God spoke through it, a free will offering flowed out of my heart in praise of the God who makes us glad, as He weaves us all together in love.

May it be God’s message of love to you today, in whatever storm you are facing. May you know the truth of God’s Word – that He delivers those whose hearts are broken and whose spirits are crushed. For, He encamps around us in every trial – that is only permitted to reveal His heart to us and in us:

Made Glad

Woven, woven
In your love
In your love
In your love.

Rooted strong
Within the soil
Of Your heart
For us.

Good and perfect
Gifts You bring
From heaven above
Contentment rain.

In each and
Every storm You sway
Your branches firmly
Found in You.

Now rooting us
Ever strongly in
The Vine abiding
Life to give.

Blessed, blessed
Throne above
On Your mercy seat
We're known.

Seated now
In heavenly courts
Your judgments pure
And righteous speak.

No child forsaken
Nor forlorn
In the Son of God
Set free.

Rivers washing
All our sin
All our pain
Away in praise.

Lifting up
Your heart as One
In Your streams
Made glad.

And may this song that my best friend back home sent to me amidst the first waves of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, as I battled through flashbacks of my Mum’s last days and the accusations of the enemy against me, also wrap around you in love, just as it did me – and still does. May God multiply His blessings in our midst:

Chapter 10: That We Might Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil

Welcome to Chapter 10 – the final chapter of Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil.

Please note Bettie and Anna are taking a ten day break from Arise and Shine, as Anna follows the Lord’s prompting to publish Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil.

When I, the returned Prodigal, first began praying for my own loved ones to come to faith, I prayed in the flesh. I prayed from a place of unbelief, rooted in pride and self. And yet, even in that place, God saw my true desire to know Him in His death and resurrection. 

He honored the tiny mustard seeds of faith – the Word He had fed me since I was a little girl- that lay buried and dormant in my heart. He took them and broke them open unto life. 

Each seed began to unfurl and flourish and bloom, by the power of the Holy Spirit that He poured out upon me, as I sat at His feet. Physically, at first, nothing changed, but spiritually: everything. For, my heart awakened, quickening to the touch of the Holy Spirit. 

As I began to pray, rather than compelling me to plead for my loved ones’ rescue, the Holy Spirit compelled me to arise in thanksgiving and praise. He placed one Promise from God’s Holy Word after another before my eyes and invited me to take His hand and walk into the truth of my loved ones’ salvation in Christ Jesus. And then, He commanded me to look for proof of His Presence at work in them. 

I was astounded to find Him so very present, where I had deemed Him absent. He led me to so much repentance, as I gloried in His power and grace. 

Psalm 105:3 (ESV) Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!

Through it all, it was as if He was asking me afresh, what He had asked me, right at the start of my walk with Him: “Who do you say that I am, Anna?”

And as He did this, I continually found myself weeping before Him. Why? Because as I lifted up those Promises before Him, I was not just affirming my loved ones’ salvation, I was affirming my own salvation and redemption in the LORD. 

I was shedding my own unbelief, rooted in pride and idolatry. I was taking off the accusations of condemnation I had allowed the enemy to clothe me in, to instead put on my breastplate of righteousness and belonging in Christ. 

I was deflecting the darts of the enemy, as I picked up the shield of faith to declare every human rejection for doing the will of my Heavenly Father, as Christ’s choosing of me to be conformed unto His likeness and to pour out the love and comfort He was pouring into me, out upon others.

I was shaking off the dust of every place that did not receive Jesus in me and putting on the shoes of peace to walk into the knowledge of God’s completion of the good work He had begun in them and in me in each of these places. 

I was laying down the works of the flesh and picking up the sword of truth to speak the Word of completion and wholeness into situations of incompletion and brokenness.

I was putting on my helmet of salvation, as I woke up daily to study and listen to the Word of God, to find God returning the Word to me, when prideful or selfish thoughts threatened to consume me. Instead, I found Christ consuming the dross in me, as each testing I faced proved the gold of His Presence and love in me.

I found myself laying down the thoughts the enemy was feeding me to instead exercise the mind of Christ and praise God for His good and perfect judgments in my life, even where these judgments were causing me such deep pain. It’s then my eyes began to open to see the beautiful grains of truth glistening in my hands.

And now, I know that Christ has been interceding in me, not just for others, but for me too. For, through it all, God has been purifying and cleansing my own heart, as I have prayed for and spoken the Word of God over others. He has been busy making His home in my own heart. 

What I saw as God’s withholding as a child, I am now beginning to receive as His gift to me. When everything looks like it is falling apart, as we pray –  trust me: it is. But only so that it can all fall into alignment, according to the will of the Father in Christ Jesus, in whom every Promise is Yes and Amen. 

For, Christ is inviting us to let go of our worldly peace to receive His peace that passes all understanding. He is inviting us to let Him take off our masks of self-righteousness, that He might reveal the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in His face.

He is inviting us to let Him break open our hearts hardened by sin and rebellion to restore our faith in Him. He is holding out His new heart of flesh to us that we might hear, see and receive Him in ourselves and those He has set before us.

Truly, truly, just like Jesus prophesied over Peter in John 21:18, when I was young, I used to dress myself and walk wherever I wanted, but now that I am older, I am stretching out my hands, and Jesus is dressing me and carrying me where I do not want to go. 

Numbers 16:28 (ESV) And Moses said: “By this you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these works, for I have not done them of my own will. 

As I am ending up where I would never have chosen to go of my own accord, I am tasting a love, joy and peace beyond measure in the arms of my Jesus, through every trial that comes my way. By the grace of God, I am getting to know the One who knows me better than I know myself, the One I now experientially know to be faithful to His every Word. 

In returning to my stronghold of hope, He – Jesus – has given me a double portion. He has opened my eyes by faith to see His face reflected in those He has set before me. He has turned me toward Himself, lifting the veil that once covered my face and heart, that I and others might now behold His unfading glory in our midst, as He transforms me, from glory to glory.

Has the Holy Spirit turned you toward Jesus with me, as you’ve been reading? I trust that He has. For, where the Spirit of our LORD is, there is freedom. It is the very breath of our God that lifts us up above the fray to see what He sees, that we might together in one accord celebrate Jesus and lift the veil, as co-laborers in Christ!

Come, let’s magnify His Name, knowing our LORD will perfect that which concerns us. The God whose mercy endures for ever, who just cannot forsake the works of His very own hands.

Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil 

As you read the Scripture below aloud, what word or phrase lingers? 

Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to reveal why it lingers and what God our Father wants us to see, know or do in response to His Word to us.

2 Peter 1:17-21 (NASB) For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

As you close this book, may God bless you and keep you. May He make His face to shine upon you unto eternity, giving you a peace that passes all understanding, as you look to Jesus. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:19-20, ESV).

No, may we never stop praying, never stop turning to Jesus that by the power of the Holy Spirit, we might continue to celebrate Jesus and lift the veil! May His Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV)

Chapter 9: That We Might Be Born Again

Welcome to Chapter 9 of Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil.

Please note Bettie and Anna are taking a ten day break from Arise and Shine, as Anna follows the Lord’s prompting to publish Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil.

When God first called me to write this book, I didn’t realize He would first need to write it upon my own heart. You see, when a Prodigal comes home, they come home still clinging to the lie that sent them packing: the lie that their sins are too great for their Heavenly Father to ever receive them as His Son.

We see that in Peter also, as Paul is forced to rebuke him for sitting amongst the religious leaders, who were denying the very grace Peter had received. I believe Peter struggled to believe in a grace that extravagant and to let go of the pride and idolatry that had rooted in his heart.

As you can see from this book, when God called me to be set apart unto Him, I struggled also. But through my many struggles His response was the same. He reminded me of what His Word has to say about those who feel they are unqualified and not cut out to do what God is calling them to. This (1 Corinthians 1:27, ESV):

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;

And this (Isaiah 45:9-13, ESV):

“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him,
    a pot among earthen pots!
Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’
    or ‘Your work has no handles’?
Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’
    or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’” Thus says the Lord,
    the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him:
“Ask me of things to come;
    will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands?
I made the earth
    and created man on it;
it was my hands that stretched out the heavens,
    and I commanded all their host.
 I have stirred him up in righteousness,
    and I will make all his ways level;
he shall build my city
    and set my exiles free,
not for price or reward,”
    says the Lord of hosts.

As you can read from the pages of this book, much humbling was needed for God to root me in His love and persuade me to put my faith and trust in His Word to me. Much heartache and pain was needed – both as a child and an adult – to make me understand that what God calls us to do is indeed impossible for man.

But in these impossible callings, Christ looks at us and reminds us, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” He reminds us it is not we, but He who shall fulfill His every Word to us, to complete the good and perfect work He has begun in us and in others.

As I wanted to point my finger at myself and others. As I wanted to avoid revisiting all the times I had wounded God’s heart and His Body. As I wanted to avoid facing the pain of each wounding done to me. As I told God yet again that I couldn’t do what He was asking of me, He convicted me and freed me with the beautiful truth of His Word:

Romans 8:33 (ESV) Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

Ironically it was Peter, who was called to become the rock of the church, who ‘came up and said to [Jesus], “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” (Matthew 18:21, ESV). What Peter and I didn’t realize is that we ourselves would be in need of that grace upon grace that Jesus poured out in His reply upon all sinners (Matthew 18:22, ESV):

Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

We didn’t realize that only in receiving God’s love, only in allowing Him to wash our feet and tend to our wounds, could we ever love others as He loves us. Writing and editing this book has been part of God’s way of washing and tending to the wounds on my weary and bruised feet, of enabling me to receive His love that I might walk in that love.

And what does that love look like? It is a watching and waiting expectantly for the small green shoot of Jesus to sprout. A newborn faith that arises as God’s children are born again, not of the flesh, but of the Holy Spirit.

It is a laboring in great pain, much like a mother giving birth to her baby. A mother who knows the joy awaiting her far outweighs any pain, any complication, any emergency that may be thrown at her. A Mama, who unlike earthly Mamas, knows her hope and joy is sure and steadfast and can never ever be taken from her.

It’s then, when we have tasted of that unfathomable love our Father has for us, that that same unfathomable love takes ahold of us – for others. It’s then, our hearts are prepared to co-labor with Jesus: to join Him in His suffering, watching and waiting expectantly for each and every small green shoot to sprout, no matter the cost. For, we have come to know, in counting up the cost, that in every loss, we in fact only find: gain. Our small green shoot – Jesus – sprouting up, where we least expect Him to.

Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil 

As you read the Scripture below aloud, what word or phrase lingers? 

Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to reveal why it lingers and what God our Father wants us to see, know or do in response to His Word to us.

1-5 A green Shoot will sprout from Jesse’s stump,

    from his roots a budding Branch.

The life-giving Spirit of God will hover over him,

    the Spirit that brings wisdom and understanding,

The Spirit that gives direction and builds strength,

    the Spirit that instills knowledge and Fear-of-God.

Fear-of-God

    will be all his joy and delight.

He won’t judge by appearances,

    won’t decide on the basis of hearsay.

He’ll judge the needy by what is right,

    render decisions on earth’s poor with justice.

His words will bring everyone to awed attention.

    A mere breath from his lips will topple the wicked.

Each morning he’ll pull on sturdy work clothes and boots,

    and build righteousness and faithfulness in the land.

Isaiah 11:1-5 (MSG)

Chapter 8: That We Might Shine Brightly

Welcome to Chapter 8 of Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil.

Please note Bettie and Anna are taking a ten day break from Arise and Shine, as Anna follows the Lord’s prompting to publish Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil.

Through each trigger of trauma, God is compelling my body – the Temple of His Holy Spirit- to groan for what only Christ can give me: Himself. Slowly, by the grace of God, I am learning to let the living law – Christ – fulfill what, apart from Him, I just cannot do. 

I am growing up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16). 

Recently, just before God commanded me to depart somewhere He had sent me, an older woman spoke of my sharing sometimes being like fire, meaning it as a rebuke. This came only a few hours before another woman had encouraged me to stop bowing before my idols and to continue to speak what God had been compelling me to speak. So, as the older woman spoke of that fire coming from my mouth as something to be corrected in me, I took it to God. He asked me to humbly thank her for her honesty and then to depart.

What I didn’t tell her, is that as I took her rebuke to the feet of Jesus, He returned it to me as a gift. He showed me that that fire was not evil in me, but His holiness burning in me. He showed me how He desired to burn the dross, not just in her, but the dross of pride and idolatry in me too. For, He knew of all those present, I most respected her word. So, He purposely allowed me to face her open rejection, for being His mouthpiece. He gave me the privilege of loving her as He loves us all: in truth and grace.

Fire departed from her and others’ mouths there also, and by the grace of God I was able to receive that fire as a precious gift from Him. Each child of His in that place changed my mind in one way or another. They filled me with such compassion and understanding for people in my past that I had failed to see and love as Jesus sees and loves us all in our weakness and need. 

And it was because of God’s fire flaming in our midst that I was freed to confess a past sin of mine in public for the very first time, as the shackles of shame and condemnation fell off of me. God gave me the honor of glorying in His embrace in their midst and to thank Him for the gifts He poured out upon me in that place, as I departed.

Now, I see how that fire of His in that place was just like the fire in the burning bush before Moses: the holy fire of God’s Word, setting Moses apart unto Himself and burning away the dross of his sin and shame, turning the ground Moses stood upon, into holy ground. 

No longer did Moses remain a fugitive after taking the law into his own hands to try and save his people. No, because of that burning bush, Moses heard the Voice of His God. He bowed his knees and walked into a new life, set apart unto His Maker. The Word of God, through whom His people would be freed from their slavery and, a generation later, led into the Promised Land.

As John 12:24-25 (ESV) puts it:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

Thanks to the gift God gave me as a freshly returned Prodigal to intercede for my pastor in his weakness and need, and many others since, my own weakness and need has been repeatedly exposed. Through each trigger of trauma, in all the intercession and iron sharpening iron, my God has been lifting the enemy’s accusations and causing me to arise in His holiness. He has clothed me in His justice, that was wrought at the Cross, and led me out to become His cloak and crown of justice to others, in their weakness and need.

He has been leading me to throw off the old of pleasing and hiding behind a mask of self-righteousness. He has been rerooting me in His love: “so that [I] may no longer be [a] [child], tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:14, ESV).

When I first began praying for my pastor and my church as a freshly returned Prodigal child, God gave me this Word as a Promise, as trauma triggers began to shake me (Ezekiel 3:8, ESV):

I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people.”

Now, looking back on the past four years, I can see that God has been fulfilling this Promise to me. He has placed the helmet of salvation upon my head, so that when the sparks fly as iron sharpens iron, I no longer take it as proof that God has rejected me. 

I receive it as proof that God is in our midst, leading us all to repentance. I now know that He is giving us beauty for the ashes of our dross that He is consuming by the fire departing from His mouth. I am learning to embrace those flames as His desire to fashion me into His image, by His transforming power. 

He is strengthening me to (Romans 12:2, ESV): “not be conformed to this world, but [to] be transformed by the renewal of [my] mind, that by testing I may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Praise God that His mercies are new every morning. Each time I have wanted to return to the old He has purposely cut off, or I have wanted to put myself on a pedestal of self-righteousness by slandering those I have left behind, God has opened my ears to receive His Word of truth and grace. 

He has rebuked the sin in me and called me to walk in His holiness, to declare before Him: “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment…O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:4, 15-17 ESV).

He has continually rescued me, softening my hardened heart and teaching me to draw upon His love and affections for me. He has led me to deny myself, to take up my Cross and to follow Him. And, through His living Word and the precious Spirit-led sharing of people like Bettie, who He wove into my life right before my first church breaking, He has repeatedly lifted my pain and exchanged my sackcloth of mourning for a headdress of praise. He has caused me to arise in His wholesome Word of truth and grace with fresh hope, filling me with all joy and peace in believing, through the power of His Holy breath.

Praise God, Christ’s fire of holiness is flaming us each alive. For, it is our Jesus, who compells us through His living Word to throw off all that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles us. It is He who empowers us to run with perseverance the race marked out for us, to fix our eyes on Him, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set before him, our Jesus endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Oh let us ever consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that we might not grow weary and lose heart.

Through each physical departure, my God has been teaching me to depart my own fleshly thinking (that has told me to stay and fight in the flesh or to stay and bow to my idols to be loved and accepted) to instead die to myself and live unto Jesus. Interestingly, literally to “go” and bear fruit means “properly, to lead away under someone’s authority (mission, objective).” Isn’t that beautiful? Jesus is leading us out under His authority to fulfill His mission – the Great Commission.

Interestingly “unwholesome” talk literally means “overripe” and “rotten”. So, when Jesus calls us to leave somewhere, where His Word is not being received, it is so that we can leave behind His ripe and uncorrupted fruit that it may build up those we leave behind in Jesus, in His perfecting. Rather than clinging to the Word He is prompting us to share in fear of man’s rejection and letting our accuser divide our hearts and corrupt the pure and unadultered Word in us.

As we hide ourselves in Jesus, allowing His Word to hedge us in, we can wait upon God in trust, knowing the battle is not ours, but His.

Psalm 119:114 (KJV) Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.

Yes! All Promises are Yes and Amen in our Jesus! The perfect Jesus, who our Heavenly Father sent into our hearts, through His Holy Spirit that we might not dim our light, Jesus – the Word fulfilled – but shine Him brightly into the world that not we, but He may call many Sons unto glory.

Come (Isaiah 40:26):

Lift up your eyes on high and see:
    who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
    calling them all by name;
by the greatness of his might
    and because he is strong in power,
    not one is missing.

Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil 

As you read the Scripture below aloud, what word or phrase lingers? 

Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to reveal why it lingers and what God our Father wants us to see, know or do in response to His Word to us.

Isaiah 61:1-4 (ESV)

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,

    because the Lord has anointed me

to bring good news to the poor;

    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim liberty to the captives,

    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,

    and the day of vengeance of our God;

    to comfort all who mourn;

to grant to those who mourn in Zion—

    to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,

the oil of gladness instead of mourning,

    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;

that they may be called oaks of righteousness,

    the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

They shall build up the ancient ruins;

    they shall raise up the former devastations;

they shall repair the ruined cities,

    the devastations of many generations.

Chapter 7: That We Might Present our Bodies as a Living Sacrifice, Holy and Acceptable Unto God

Welcome to Chapter 7 of Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil.

Please note Bettie and Anna are taking a ten day break from Arise and Shine, as Anna follows the Lord’s prompting to publish Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil.

It’s only now, four years after leaving my church, that I can see what God was doing. He deliberately hemmed me in by painful thistles. Each thorn of rejection, triggered trauma and pressed me into the arms of Jesus. 

It humbled me and opened my eyes to God’s loving presence in my immediate family and friends, awakening my heart to the steadfast Promises in His Word. It helped me to let go of the idols of self, church and man that were suffocating me in fear, self-condemnation and shame and to walk into Christ’s love and grace for me.

In Isaiah 55:13 (ESV), God promises us that His Word shall come to pass in our lives:

“Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;

    instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;

and it shall make a name for the Lord,

    an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

Interestingly, briers and thorns abound in the desert, while the myrtle abounds in mountainous regions and the cypress in wet soil, close to the sea. Likewise, briers are arid thorn bushes that easily burn, while myrtles and the cypress are lush plantings. As I lay in bed at night, God brought all this to mind and showed me something so beautiful. 

Christ humbled Himself on the Cross, so that now, He can lift us up to Himself, through His humbling work in us.

Christ hungered and thirsted in the desert to quench our thirst and satisfy our hunger in our own desert now.

God sent His only Son to be pierced for our transgressions to give us beauty (myrtle) for ashes (brier), burning our thornbush to give us the riches of His eternal Presence in Christ Jesus.

He takes us into the valley to lift us up to the mountain top. He takes us into the desert to lead us out into a tropical and lush climate.

And now I see that as we follow Him, He leads us to repeatedly take up our own Cross that we might follow in His footsteps. To keep descending into the valley and to keep walking into the desert, so that the life of Jesus might be manifested in us to draw others to Him also. “For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” (2 Corinthians 4:11, ESV).

Jesus did not hide out in the Temple. He willingly chose to forfeit the religious leaders’ respect to do His Father’s will: to sit and break bread with those whose weakness, poverty and illness prevented them from leading a self-righteous life and excluded them from entering the Temple. So, He brought the Temple to them and later, awakened the Temple of His Holy Spirit in them.

The maligned, ostracized and excluded ones – the little lambs caught in the thorn bush of their accuser – are the ones Jesus drew nearest to on earth. For, He knew their hearts had been tilled in their weakness to acknowledge their inability to fulfill the law, so that they would be hungry to receive His fulfillment of the law at the Cross. 

And He invites us – His children – to join Him in His suffering outside the camp also. That in His humbling, we too might clothe ourselves and His long lost sheep in the righteousness that is ours in Christ Jesus alone, as we proclaim the finished work of the Cross. As we boast in our weakness, speak the truth in love, confess our sins freely and extend the mercy of our God, as He extends that mercy to us also.

Helen Roseveare asks in Living Holiness: Willing to be the Legs of a Galloping Horse (Kindle Location 1170):

“Could I thank God for trusting me with the experience, even of severe illness, and seek His grace to learn more of Him through it, so that I in turn could help and encourage another – or would I demand healing, thinking of such as my ‘right’ because I am a Christian?”

If truth be told, I at first did not thank God for this humbling experience of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the severe trauma triggers that had me wanting to take my own life. I didn’t thank Him for the thorns that cut me off from the Christian life I knew and prided myself in. But what I didn’t see is the gift those thorns would become to me and to others through me. 

What God has taught me – through the waves of trauma coursing through my body – is that the shaking in our lives is only ever permitted to reveal what is unshakeable: the foundation of Christ’s love for us all and His calling upon our lives. 

I now know, thanks to CPTSD, that complete healing and wholeness is already ours in Christ Jesus. Whatever trials come our way are only God’s way of proving the power of His love at work in us, for us and through us.

Praise God (Isaiah 55:10-11, ESV):

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven

    and do not return there but water the earth,

making it bring forth and sprout,

    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

so shall [God’s] word be that goes out from [His] mouth;

    it shall not return to [Him] empty,

but it shall accomplish that which [He] purpose[s],

    and shall succeed in the thing for which [He] sent it.

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” (2 Corinthians 2:14, ESV). For, Christ’s “food is to do the will of him who sent him and to accomplish his work.” (John 4:31, ESV). 

Now, as I am about to head into further hospital testing to better understand my heart conditions, I am reminded of my repeated prayers before God. From the moment He brought me home, I have prayed for Him to humble me and from the moment I began to realize the power of God that makes itself known in human weakness, I have prayed that God might make me ever weaker. That He – my true strength – might arise in me and draw those I love so deeply, unto Himself.

You see, as I shared in the Prologue, Never Stop Praying, I came home to Jesus because I palpably felt the Holy Spirit’s Presence upon my dying Mum. The more her body and strength deteriorated, the more palpably I felt the presence of God in our midst. She couldn’t move, speak or even swallow at the end and yet I have never in my life felt the peace of God with me as I did in those final days of her life on earth. 

Later, flashbacks and trauma triggers of my Mum’s suffering tried to steal the gift of that peace from me. But those flashbacks and triggers could not erase the memories I still have of experiencing the palpable peace of God upon my dying Mum. 

Ultimately, my mental illness has in fact cast me into the arms of Jesus – as He has been teaching me how to be genuine, and how to open my heart in trust to receive and give His love. Through my illness, God is opening my eyes to see by faith – to take hold of the eternal hope that is mine and my loved ones’ in Christ Jesus.

I now know my family belongs to Jesus already: for His Word tells me so. But my heart so yearns and so grieves for them to know that too – for Jesus to awaken them by the touch of His Holy Spirit. And so, I thank God for answering my prayers through this new illness.

I thank God for making me weaker still, so that by the power of His Holy Spirit, Jesus might become ever more palpable and visible to my loved ones, as He did to me through my Mum’s frail body.

May God continue to shake each one of us, that what is unshakeable will be uncovered in us and in our loved ones. That we might speak the Word of God boldly – not just with our lips, but with our very bodies, as we present them as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing unto our God.

Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil 

As you read the Scriptures below aloud, what word/s or phrase/s linger/s? 

Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to reveal why it lingers and what God our Father wants us to see, know or do in response to His Word to us.

Acts 4:31 (NIV) After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Hebrews 12:26-27 (ESV) At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.

Chapter 6: That We Might Become His Compassion

Welcome to Chapter 6 of Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil.

Please note Bettie and Anna are taking a ten day break from Arise and Shine, as Anna follows the Lord’s prompting to publish Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil.

Around the time God began to call me to intercede for His Body, the church, my friend Bettie recommended I read a book by Norman P. Grubb, entitled Rees Howells: Intercessor. Something in this book just broke me. Why did it break me? Grubb shared how Howells, just like the disciple Peter, was confronted with his own inability to fulfill the calling of his God. It was the very thing God had been confronting my heart with also.

It’s in that acknowledgement that God had Howells exactly where He wanted him: in a position to receive what he could never give of himself. It’s then, as Howells surrendered to God’s ability, that he began to recognize a pattern in his intercession. Not only would Howells pray for others, God would bring the very Word he spoke over others alive in his own heart, deeply humbling him in the process. So not only was he praying for the Body, he was proclaiming the Word of God in and through his very own body.

Recently, God led me back to Hosea 2 – a Scripture I had received for another, just before He called me out of my former church. And He showed me that what is described in this chapter reflects the very process He was leading me through also. 

As He led me to Hosea 2 for my friend, a friend He was about to ask me to surrender into His hands, He was in fact praying it over me also. That I, just as Peter and Howells, might live the very Word I was given in prayer for the Body of Christ.

What did that process of Hosea 2 look like in my own life and heart? First, He showered me in blessings upon my return to Him as a Prodigal child, as I sought His face and humbled myself before Him in His leading. Then, I saw those blessings He had showered upon me as coming from my own striving – from the steps I had chosen to take that led to my healing from trauma.

And she did not know

    that it was I who gave her

    the grain, the wine, and the oil,

and who lavished on her silver and gold,

    which they used for Baal.

Therefore I will take back

    my grain in its time,

    and my wine in its season,

and I will take away my wool and my flax,

    which were to cover her nakedness.

So, He humbled me anew. Sending fresh trauma triggers, He exposed my weakness and sin, as I openly confessed my need for God’s grace. Around the same time He began leading me to share specific Scriptures with one of my pastors. I now realize these Scriptures were not only confronting the false teaching going on behind the scenes, but also my own pride and idolatry.

The false teaching directly contradicts the Good News that declares Christ’s power as being perfected in weakness and the blood of Jesus as having broken the curse of sin and death. It also sets itself up in the place of God. It denies the power of the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us to lead us to repentance – not just once and for all, but on a daily and moment-by-moment basis. And it encourages people to put their trust in human doctrine, leading them away from an experiential understanding of our freedom in Christ, in a unique and very personal way, through the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.

The false teaching does what I had wanted to do, after I began to pride myself in my “healing” from CPTSD. For, I had begun to set myself up on a pedestal, wanting others to follow what God had me do that had led to my “healing” from trauma. But beautifully, right when He had me sharing those Scriptures with my pastor, God began to humble me with fresh trauma triggers, to help me live the very Word He had me sharing. I didn’t see that though, until I looked back years later.

I began to face rejection in my open confessions of sin and weakness, and in my obedience to God’s prompting to share the Scriptures He gave me for my pastor. Each rejection I faced, as hearts hardened toward me, took me back to my childhood experience of rejection. I heard those same accusations from my past screaming at me, that I had agreed with as a child: “God has abandoned you, you don’t belong to Him, you are evil, look at how sinful you are, you are inherently wrong, God made a mistake with you, look at how you repel other Christians.” 

But this time, strengthened by my experience of God’s mercy to me in bringing me home to Him after such a long Prodigal journey, I kept crying out to God. And He upheld me, even in moments I wanted to take my own life. He continually lifted me up out of the pit of self, pride and idolatry to set me on the Rock of His Word to me, restoring me unto Himself. 

He had me lay down every accusation of the enemy at His feet, where He clothed me in the truth of His Word. He repeatedly showed me that my identity and worth is rooted in Him alone and can never be stolen from me.

As I poured out laments before Him, in my deep pain through each rejection, He again and again filled me with such deep grief for those I was praying for. He continually exchanged the bitterness, unforgiveness and hatred in my own heart of stone for fervent love, compassion and mercy, uncovering His heart of flesh beating inside of me.

Now, I know that God led me out of that church just as a disciplinary hearing was being planned to remove me from the ministry positions I had been given. God had had me openly rebuke hidden sin – a rebuke that did not lead to repentance. Then, as I was rebuked by those present in my own wrongdoing, He convicted my heart, leading me to confess my own sin of looking where I shouldn’t have, which had led to the discovery of that sin in the first place. 

Now I will uncover her lewdness

    in the sight of her lovers,

    and no one shall rescue her out of my hand.

And I will put an end to all her mirth,

    her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths,

    and all her appointed feasts.

And I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees,

    of which she said,

‘These are my wages,

    which my lovers have given me.’

I will make them a forest,

   and the beasts of the field shall devour them.

And I will punish her for the feast days of the Baals

    when she burned offerings to them

and adorned herself with her ring and jewelry,

    and went after her lovers

    and forgot me, declares the Lord.

Beautifully God placed a dear friend in my midst who had had a dream about what just unfolded and that dream encouraged her to speak up and affirm the choices He had asked me to take through His Word: both to speak up about the sin I had discovered and to confess my own sin. 

In His great kindness to me, God then led me out before that disciplinary meeting could take place. His punishment of me was to strip me of the very idols of self, man, ministry positions and church, that were suffocating His breath in me. 

At first I struggled to receive God’s love for me and His protection of my heart in this stripping. He took away what I didn’t realize I had begun to build my self-worth and identity upon in the pain and shame I felt through all the rejection. But then, this lifting off of the chaff, became His greatest gift to me. 

I now see how God only took away my idols to reveal the beauty of Himself in me – truth, love and grace. He showed me that I need never be afraid of His discipline that is so different to the world’s discipline.

No! God’s training of us is never sent to shame and condemn us. It is never sent to set us aside to become worthless, as we remain chained to a vanity that leaves us perpetually empty and out in the cold. His discipline of us – His children – is a chastening in love that is sent to convict and free us of our sins that we might be set apart unto Him to bear abundant and abiding fruit. 

In His great kindness to me, God led me out into the wilderness, to allure me and restore me unto Himself. He revealed His deep compassion for me in my weakness, meeting my desperate need to just be held in His arms. He revealed Himself to be so very different from the idol I had made of Him – an idol I had fashioned after my own idols of self, man, ministry and church.

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,

    and bring her into the wilderness,

    and speak tenderly to her.

And there I will give her her vineyards

    and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.

And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,

    as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.

Not long after we buried my Mum, about three years earlier, God had given me a personal Promise to hold onto. I had framed this Promise with photos of my Mum, my sisters and myself (Isaiah 51:3, NIV):

The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.

What I didn’t realize is that for this Promise to be birthed in me, more and more, God would have to lead me into the wilderness to uncover my parched and famished heart and soul. For, only in His gardening – and not my idols’ – could the seeds of His Word take root and flourish in His heart for me. As Jeremiah 31:4 (ESV) puts it:

And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

By God’s grace, I am now relearning how to turn to Jesus in my need. And it is in fixing my eyes upon Jesus and the finished work of the Cross that my Savior is exchanging my hunger, thirst, pain and disgrace for joy and gladness, thanksgiving and the sound of singing. He is opening my eyes to His love for me right where I am. By His grace, I am learning to receive Him in those He hemmed me in with, as He is now leading me out to a spacious place with Him.

 “And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord. 

God is truly sowing the Word of life so richly in my midst, as He is leading me and others around me to openly confess our weakness and sin before each other, to speak the truth to each other in love and to freely extend mercy to each other. We are learning and growing together, as Jesus is revealing Himself to us in an intimate and personal way.

“And in that day I will answer, declares the Lord,

    I will answer the heavens,

    and they shall answer the earth,

and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil,

    and they shall answer Jezreel,

    and I will sow her for myself in the land.

And I will have mercy on No Mercy,

    and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’;

    and he shall say, ‘You are my God.’”

Yes, I am tasting and seeing the goodness of my God in the land of the living. For, in His love, kindness and mercy to me, He is proving me to be His child. He has set me apart according to His purposes for me. And as I come to Him for mercy in His hemming in, His mercy is being awakened in me for His Body, as I declare before Him: “You alone, are my God.”

Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil

As you read the Scripture below aloud, what word or phrase lingers? 

Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to reveal why it lingers and what God our Father wants us to see, know or do in response to His Word to us.

Luke 6:36 CJB Show compassion, just as your Father shows compassion. 

The Word translated as compassion here, and as “mercy” in the King James Version, has also been described by the HELPS Word-Study as:

Cognate: 3629 oiktírmōn (an adjective, derived from 3627 /oikteírō, “express visceral-compassions”) – compassionate, experiencing deep pity (lamentation) as God has for people who look to Him for help in their difficult situations.

Are you, like me, going through a situation that is deeply grieving your own heart right now? Are you feeling hemmed in, in any way? Will you join me then, in bringing a lament before our Heavenly Father, in pouring out your heart before Him with me, just like King David did repeatedly?

As we come to Him, may He not only pour out His mercy and compassion upon us, but also birth His compassion and mercy in us afresh, for His Body, as He reveals His heart of flesh beating inside of our own body.

Chapter 5: That We Might Receive Jesus

Welcome to Chapter 5 of Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil.

Please note Bettie and Anna are taking a ten day break from Arise and Shine, as Anna follows the Lord’s prompting to publish Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil.

Interestingly, sifting seed involves blowing it up into the air to remove the head (also called chaff) and to have it immediately drop to the ground. And this isn’t a one-time process. As I began to look more closely at this process and the prophecy Jesus spoke over Peter of allowing Satan to sift – or winnow – him like wheat, I began to see the hidden blessing Jesus wanted me to uncover in my own experiences of being sifted like wheat.

I now see how the Holy Spirit has lifted me up into positions of authority, when I, by the grace of God at work in me, have followed the law of God. But then I have become prideful, denying that it was always the grace of God that enabled me to fulfill the law and that He had lifted me up and not me and my goodness. 

I began to see myself as the head and as oh so deserving of all the gifts for “all I have had to suffer through and give up”, turning my back on the greatest gift of all- Jesus and His love for me – compared to whom all else is rubbish. But praise God, He has never allowed me to stay in that position of pride, just as He didn’t allow Peter either.

He has repeatedly humbled me, repeatedly removing the chaff of self, as He has pressed my knees to the ground to die to myself and to sow unto the Spirit. As John 12:24 (KJV) puts it:

Verily, verily I say unto you, unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

Now, I know that the seed in us is JESUS. It is He, who bowed low on the ground for us in Gethsemane, to drink the cup to take upon Him our sin and affliction, and to die on that Cross to save us. The chaff is our old self. But as Christ humbles us, yielding us to the Father’s will through HIS sacrifice, He cracks open our hardened hearts to lift off the old us (the chaff) to reveal Himself in us (the seed). He leads us to take up our Cross and follow Him.

When I came back to faith, I believed I was called to and could draw others to Christ by my good example. So, God repeatedly invited me into situations that exposed my need for His grace and healing. It’s then, as He had me confess my sins before unbelievers, and they responded with such warmth and compassion, confessing their own weakness and sin also, that I began to see that it is His Spirit in me that is drawing me and others closer and closer to Jesus.

Sadly, after my symptoms of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder disappeared, I glorified my healing, my church friends and the steps I had taken to get to that place of healing. I even began to believe God had called me to show others “how to heal”. So, in His kindness to me, God brought new trauma triggers to bring me to my knees, to expose my desperately deceitful heart and to remind me who our only Savior, Rock and portion is.

It was like He was asking me: “Anna, are you telling me you can teach people how to heal themselves?! How dare you set yourself up as an idol for others to bow before. How dare you glorify yourself and not Me.” Oh how deeply humbling it was for me, as God led me to confess my sins, one after another, and to speak of His love and grace for me in my weakness and need.

But when God called me to leave my church, rescuing me from the spiritual abuse I was experiencing and the resulting division in my heart, I spiraled into shame. I clothed myself in the enemy’s accusations and reverted to fighting back in the flesh. 

I began hiding in self-righteousness, so I could again “belong” to a local church body that I saw as being a necessary component to “belonging” to God. And I sought honor and approval in the world – via jobs – to compensate for the humiliation I felt, in having nothing left to “do” and “prove my worth”, as I began to let go of God’s beautiful Word to me, just as I did as a teenager.

But, God ever so patiently just kept taking me in and out of these places I longed to go. He never took away my free will, but rather, restored it to me so that through my falling down and His catching of me, I would learn to trust Him and seek His leading. Through each new place He took me, He compelled me to surrender my idols, one by one, and to take back my self-control in Him, so I could bring free will offerings before Him. 

Free-will offerings rooted in His love for me, rather than religious sacrifices induced by fear and shame. In giving me what I thought I wanted and needed, He in fact uncovered the true desires of my heart to know Him. 

To know this Jesus who is patient, who is kind. This Jesus who does not envy, who does not boast, who is not proud. This Son of God who does not dishonor others, who is not self-seeking, who is not easily angered, who keeps no record of wrongs. This God who does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. This Messiah who always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. And to know that I can always trust His judgment that is sent to heal me and to reveal His heart of flesh that is beating inside of me even now.

He has patiently yielded me to His good and perfect will, feeding me His pure and unadulterated Word to root me in the truth of His love for me, and to lead me to repentance. And He has showered me in His pride, every time I have humbled myself in obedience beneath His mighty hand.

I remember after God compelled me to leave one employer after only a month, how He woke me up to go downstairs in the middle of the night to pray for my former boss. As I bowed low on the floor to pray, in response to God’s prompting, God’s love, compassion and mercy just began to pour out of me for this man, and I literally felt oil pour out on my head and the hand of Jesus rest upon my head. It was such an incredible experience. 

And yet even then, as I shared about this all with a church-going friend that I wanted to like me, I boasted in my own strength and goodness. I put myself on a pedestal for praying for my enemy: when it was in fact GOD who had brought that surrender in me.

I wanted her to approve of me, and I wanted to belong to her church community, I had started sporadically attending. But God later showed me, that in my desire to belong to that place, I was hiding His beautiful light. I was keeping my mouth shut, when He was calling me to open it wide to declare His Name. I was continually retreating behind a mask of self-righteousness to remain acceptable. In denying His Name and the finished work of the Cross, I caused division in my heart, a division that triggered trauma in me, leading me to speak up and to go and bear fruit that abides.

A few days later I sat bemoaning that employer yet again before unbelieving friends of ours. I was seeking to save face after once again being jobless, when God had only just showered me in honor to show me that I am no victim, but a victor in Christ Jesus, not sent to glorify myself in the world, but Him, in my humility.

I hadn’t learnt the lesson God had wanted to teach me through all of this: Psalm 16:2 “I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” Yet, beautifully, one of those present said something that so deeply convicted my heart in response that God led me to repentance through it.

No, there is NOT one ounce of goodness in me apart from God. But that is the beautiful and freeing thing to realize, isn’t it? I can never, in fact, be holy apart from Christ. Oh I still have moments I forget this beautiful truth, as pride rises in me. But praise God He always rises to defend me – to compel me to clothe myself in His holiness that is mine in Christ Jesus, as I bow low in repentance. 

It has always been Jesus yielding me in surrender to His will. Now, I know my Heavenly Papa was not ashamed of me in each breaking, but oh so proud of me for taking up my Cross to follow Him.

For, that is in fact what shines the face of Jesus upon others in their own weakness. Upon those whose hearts have been tilled to receive the truth and grace of God. No, those who long to know Jesus won’t ever find Him in my self-righteousness, in my pedestal living, nor in me puffing myself up in my positions in ministry or the workforce, and my striving. They and I will see Jesus most in my repentance: in Christ’s holiness transforming me from glory to glory.

All along, I have always been in the hand of God. And yet sadly, I was constantly seeking church leaders, church friends, various self-help programmes (Christian and non-Christian) and worldly or church standing to “rescue me” and lift away the shame I felt at my weakness and sin being “put on display”. All along Christ was inviting me to become less that He might become more and more visible in me.

I didn’t deep down know in my heart that God has always had me safely in His hand – even all those years I walked as a Prodigal, believing Jesus had abandoned me. Now, I know that all of this humbling was sent to teach me – and others through me – to trust Jesus and to deep down know that He has already walked before us and that He will never ever forsake us.

Praise God, that each place He sent me, He lifted me up to winnow the beautiful golden seeds of His Word in me. Lifting off the chaff of my prideful old self, the heavier seeds of glory dropped into the good soil of His heart for me, to join Christ in His death and resurrection that each one might break open unto new life in God’s beautiful timing. 

I now see the beautiful fruit of repentance He has been growing in me: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in Him. I can now see and praise God for the blossoming staff of His leading in my life and heart. 

To the world my life (and my ailing health) looks like a failure, but I now know to God, my “failures” are proof of His workmanship – His labor of love in me. For, each surrender was wrought by His holiness in me, to yield a harvest of peace in me. And the suffering I am bearing in my body, as my heart begins to reveal the impact of the trauma triggers, is proof to me that I am filling up in my flesh what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. So that I may declare the glory of Him who has called me out of darkness into His glorious light.

Jesus has proven to me that He will never leave or forsake us, but remain with us, lifting off our every fear and our every burden of sin, loss and pain, as He leads us to die to ourself and live unto Him. A living and breathing that causes us to flourish, as we become who He has created us to be.

Our Emmanuel is with us, always. He is our portion, our eternal inheritance as sons and daughters of the Most High King. As we delight in Him, may He continue to lift off the chaff of our old self to reveal Himself: the true desires of our heart. May we receive Jesus: the only One worthy of our praise.

Philippians 4:8 KJV Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil

As you read the Scripture below aloud, what word or phrase lingers? 

Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to reveal why it lingers and what God our Father wants us to see, know or do in response to His Word to us.

John 12:24 (KJV) Verily, verily I say unto you, unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

Now, will you take a moment with me to ask God to search and know our hearts that He may reveal which Promises from His Word are failing to take root in our hearts because we have been placing our faith in something or someone other than Him – and not allowing Him to sow that seed into His steadfast heart of love inside of us.

Chapter 4: That We Might Acknowledge Christ Before Man

Welcome to Chapter 4 of Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil. I am also including a voice recording of today’s chapter.

Please note Bettie and Anna are taking a ten day break from Arise and Shine, as Anna follows the Lord’s prompting to publish Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil.

Anna, reading today’s chapter aloud:

When my parents decided to return to New Zealand, after almost six years as missionaries and church planters in Germany, it meant saying goodbye to the only place I could remember as home. On the eve of our departure, my elementary teacher gave me a goodbye present. A heart-shaped book, composed of threaded pages full of poems, messages, photos and drawings. 

Each classmate had created one page, but the page that is now engraved upon my memory, is my teacher’s. On her page there was a sketch of huge hands, palms wide open, holding a little sparrow.

That first year in New Zealand, I felt so out of place, with my strange accent and different way of speaking and doing things. Seeing my parents struggling with so much too, I shared very little with them, trying hard not to become an added burden to them. But God saw my need and gave me a new friend, who loved the LORD with childlike fervor.

What did her name mean?

Twin

Her name was a derivative of Thomas, a name which “appears to be related to the Greek noun τομη (tome), meaning a cutting or cleaving, which in turn comes from the verb τεμνω (temno), meaning to cut or cleave.” (Source: https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Thomas.html#.X7x7Hjm0s0M).

It’s only now I see how, just as with the disciple Thomas, God was inviting me to touch the holes in His hands and feet. For, He wanted me to realize that the moment I had responded to the Father’s call to repentance as a little girl, He had bound Himself to me.

The holes in His hands and feet are evidence that (Isaiah 49:16, ESV): “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” On that Cross, Christ restored the breach in my walls of salvation. He became my cursed sin offering, bearing the penalty I should have borne, to atone for all my sins: past, present and future.

Although she only stayed for a year, God invited me through this friend to touch His nail-pierced hands and wounded side, to remember that His power is perfected in our weakness. Now, looking back, I can do so.

As a preteen, however, I agreed with the enemy’s doctrines and his accusations against me, and the more I did so, the more I hid in my sin and the more I was bathed in feelings of shame and unworthiness. I had faced rejection from those I loved and trusted most in speaking up for someone who couldn’t speak up for himself, and the enemy used this to feed me accusations of God’s abandonment. In my fear of man above God, I readily agreed to my accuser’s lies. But into all this, God gave me a new friend.

This friend openly shared her weakness with me and God’s nearness to her in it all, inviting me into a deeper walk with God. I remember my hunger and thirst for God growing. I remember moments of worship, where the Spirit of God descended powerfully, overwhelming me in kindness, gentle conviction and stunning grace. I remember the joy of my baptism at 12 years old.

But I also remember the humiliation and sting of rejection I felt, as I saw the response of someone I deeply respected to the Holy Spirit’s anointing upon me and my open confession of sin and weakness. I remember slowly retreating from God’s desire to draw me near, becoming fearful of the cost of the Holy Spirit’s anointing.

I did not recognize the honor God was seeking to bestow on me, in my setting apart, as He called me to bow my knees in humilty, in the confidence of His love and acceptance of me. Instead I chose to fear man’s rejection above my holy God, turning my back on the greatest gift of all.

I remember beginning to numb my pain by retreating from those around me, spending hours with my nose behind books. Then, several years later, I remember the terror that filled me as I committed the sin of masturbation, a sin I was too scared and too ashamed to confess to anyone. It’s then, as I listened to the enemy’s accusations against me more and more, I began to believe I was irredeemable and that God had rejected me for good.

I believe God gifted me that dear friend, who openly boasted in her weakness, to sing His truth over me. When I look back, I see His faithfulness to me in my faithlessness and His desire to uproot my confidence in myself and in the love and approval of man, to reroot me in His love and approval alone.

My new friend is now proof of God’s compassion and mercy to me. Her presence in my life reminds me that God’s mercies are new every morning. Now, I know that in my struggle to come to Jesus, I can cry out to my LORD to save me – again and again- and that He always will. For, He perfects His power in our weakness.

What did my new friend’s name mean?

God is an oath.

In my second year of high school, we moved towns and my father decided to send me to a non-Christian high school. Arriving in that second year at a huge city school, after four years at a little country Christian school, then still accompanied by my brothers and sisters, and now alone, had me feeling insecure and out of place. But even there God continued to sing His truth over me. A classmate welcomed me into her little group of friends.

What was the meaning of her name?

Bold kin or family.

God was reminding me that He is our Abba Father who boldly welcomes outsiders into His outstretched arms.

Months before this major transition and move, God also gave me another friend who would become my very best friend, and still is one of my two best friends today. Amazingly, our new home ended up being only a 5 minute bike-ride away from hers. She became one of our family and I became one of hers.

When I look back, I see God’s love and faithfulness to me in her friendship so much. She (and later her husband and children) never stopped loving me, welcoming me (and my family) into their life and praying for me (and my family) through my long Prodigal journey home. 

Oh don’t get me wrong, she grieved behind closed doors and her heart struggled to understand the path I was on, but she stood by me, being God’s faithfulness to me in my unfaithfulness.

What are the meanings of my best friend’s first and middle names?

Little rock and God is an oath

And what was the meaning of my elementary teacher’s name all those years earlier?

Downey one.

This is a reference to goats’ hair, a material that was once upon a time woven to make the curtains of the tabernacle furnishings. A durable fabric, designed to sustain the frequent moves of the tabernacle through the wilderness. And here again, God’s hand is so beautifully present through my teacher.

In Exodus 35:26 we hear that: “all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats’ hair.” I wouldn’t be surprised if the Holy Spirit had stirred my teacher’s heart up to draw those hands with the sparrow all those years before. 

For, it’s almost as if she was spinning goats’ hair to cover and hide me with Christ, on the eve of my departure into the wilderness. For, even through all those years of unbelief, God never ever took His Holy Spirit from me. He became the cursed sin offering on the Cross for me and my faithfulness in my faithlessness. And each friend who welcomed me into her midst is now physical proof to me that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.

For, Christ was the hand of sufficient grace in my weakness. He was the hand of compassion, when I turned away in fear and shame. He was the hand of family, my bold kin who claimed me as His no matter where I went. He was the hand of truth, a rock and anchor for my slipping feet, even when I could not see Him. 

And He was the One who gave me eyes of faith to see and behold Him for who He truly is, in His perfect timing, when He had set me exactly where He wanted me, according to His purposes for my life. He has turned and still is turning the enemy’s attacks against me into good.

Now, as I look back, I can remember how He in fact never ever stopped praying through me. For, even as I stopped praying for myself, believing myself irredeemable, I kept praying for others around me – seeing them as worthy of God’s love and grace. 

Now, I know that all who call upon the Name of the LORD are saved, because we are all worthy of God’s love and grace. Not because we deserve it, but because the blood of Jesus does, the blood that was shed to hide us in the righteousness of God. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV) Yes! Our sinless Jesus “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25) and “if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13, ESV).

And what was the name my parents gave me?

Anna Louise.

These names mean grace and famous warrior. Now, I know that grace and famous warrior is Jesus. For, it’s no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.

Just as Peter, I have discovered that the name Jesus gave me reflects how God desires to build His church. Not by our might, nor by our power, but only ever by the Spirit of the LORD whose power is made perfect in our weakness. 

I believe Peter was called the rock because the moment Peter decided to follow Jesus, Simon (meaning “has heard”) died and Jesus – the Rock – arose in him, in response to him hearing the call of his Heavenly Father. And the gates of hell could never prevail against that. Just as they cannot prevail against any child of God’s.

For in giving our hearts to Jesus, we have died, and our life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3). And “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14, ESV).

I now see how God never stops singing the truth over us in every little detail of our life. Through every heartache, loss and trial He reminds us that, just as His eye is upon the tiniest of sparrows, His eye remains on us too. He never leaves or forsakes us. For, all Promises are yes and Amen in Christ Jesus.

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. (Isaiah 12:2 KJV) As my Mum – who I had turned into my idol as a child – lay dying, God poured out His Holy Spirit not just upon my Mum, but also out upon me afresh, lifting both our burdens.

Ever since, this Comforter has been bringing to remembrance all that Jesus has ever spoken to me. Now, I am arising in the living and breathing Word of God. By the grace of God I am no longer acknowledging myself and other human beings in my testimony before you, but Christ and His sweet never-forsaking Presence, and His saving grace for us all.

Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil

Come, let’s celebrate the life of Jesus at work in us and our loved ones. Those huge hands, palms wide open, holding that tiny sparrow are His promise to each one of us.

That He sees us and knows us. That He hems us in, from behind and before. That He lays His hand upon us (Psalm 139:5). That wherever we go, His hand guides us and His right hand holds us fast (Psalm 139:9-10). That no one can ever snatch us out of His mighty hand (John 10:29, Isaiah 43:13).

Isaiah 57:15 (ESV) tells us: “For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Are there gifts the LORD longs for you to receive in the meaning of place names or the names of people on your and your loved ones’ life journeys thus far? Is He longing to comfort Your heart, as you see His hand in the tiniest of details?

As you read the Scripture below aloud, what word or phrase lingers? 

Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to reveal why it lingers and what God our Father wants us to see, know or do in response to His Word to us.

Isaiah 45:5-6 “I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other.”

Chapter 3: That We Might Become One

Welcome to Chapter 3 of Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil. Please note Bettie and Anna are taking a ten day break from Arise and Shine, as Anna follows the Lord’s prompting to publish Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil.

As I began to turn away from God, my Mum noticed a change in me. She didn’t know what lay at the root, but she could see my confidence waning more and more and began praying with her best friend for God to restore my confidence. 

Through my teenage years, I changed from an exuberant, outgoing child, into a child who began to hide out in books and in fear and shame. Interestingly, even the books I began to read, by Catherine Cookson, were full of characters who lived in fear and shame. Cookson recorded the fictional stories of women who had been sexually and physically abused in graphic detail. I empathized deeply with each of these women’s plights. 

I now know why. I saw myself in them. Although I do not know the horror of sexual or physical abuse, I do know the horror of spiritual abuse. The enemy’s whispers of deceit were sent to steal, kill and destroy the unique Voice and beauty of Christ in me. 

His doctrines and accusations straightjacketed me in a worship of self and man, suffocating the breath of God in me. But little did my accuser realize that all he was doing was ultimately causing me to die to myself and man, that I might be born again in Christ, revealing the power of His holy breath in me.

That holy breath is now claiming ownership of my body. Christ is healing me from the trauma of that spiritual abuse, as I walk through Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This “disorder” is in fact a gift from God, for it’s trauma triggers are shaking me awake to the Living Truth inside of me to heal the division in my heart.

God is freeing me from man-made doctrines, the enemy’s accusations, sin and sin’s impact upon my body and the Body. For, “If one part [of the Body] suffers, all the parts suffer with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26, ESV), which I believe means then that as God heals us individually, He is also healing His Body corporately.

The book Hebrews in the Bible tells us about our Great High Priest, Jesus, who (Hebrews 7:24-25, ESV): “holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” 

I now know, because of John 17, that Jesus prayed for me, even before I was born. He began interceding for me, even before the confession of faith that was birthed in me as a little four year-old in response to my Heavenly Father calling me unto Himself. 

Because of that confession, “[I], who [was] dead in [my] trespasses and the uncircumcision of [my] flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven [me] all [my] trespasses. By canceling the record of debt that stood against [me] with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” (Colossians 2:13-15, ESV).

This meant that as I fell into sin and blindness as a teenager, my true life remained hidden in Christ. For, Christ stood in the gap for me in my sin, as He lay in agony on the Cross. He covered my every sin – past, present and future – in His blood and righteousness. 

And, He set about to use what the enemy meant for evil for good. As I bowed before my idols and the enemy began to suffocate God’s Spirit breath in me, my Savior sent me out. Out into the world to sanctify me in the truth of His love for me and His Body, to make me One in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and He’s not done yet. 

He is continuing to open my ears and eyes to the beauty of His Presence all around me: to recognize His breath of life in all those He sets before me: knitting me together with His beautiful Body, as He awakens each one of us to His never-ending love, His healing touch and His beautiful wholeness.

As He patiently labors in me – in you –  in our loved ones, to lead us all to repentance, we each remain protected from the wrath of God we deserve. For, God the Father has heard His Son’s prayers at Gethsemene for us, just as He did for Peter, to make us all One in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

No, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward [us], not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9, ESV). Our and our loved ones’ bodies, stories and lives are not our own. They are part of God’s much bigger whole. 

As 1 Corinthians 12:18 (KJV) puts it: But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. God guards our hearts. He does not allow His life in us, nor His irrevocable purpose for us to be extinguished. In fact, He uses the enemy’s attacks, our and others’ weakness to refine our character, topple our idols, slice through doctrines of man and set us where we can and will flourish in the part of the Body He has purposed us to be. There, we will bear abiding fruit and draw others to Christ, through the power of His Holy Spirit at work in us.

I now know God used my Prodigal journey to set me right in the center of His will for me and for His Body: into a precious family of His choosing on the other side of the world. 

When I read children’s books set in the Netherlands and Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place as a little girl, little did I know that God would bring me together with a Dutch man who was born and raised in Tante Corrie’s home town, a town twenty minutes from here that we travel to almost every weekend to visit my in-laws.

Now, my unbelieving husband, our daughters and my sealed-by-the Spirit Prodigal in-laws are living evidence to me that God’s holy breath is in so many more places than my past religious, straight-jacketed thinking deemed:

1 Corinthians 7:14 (KJV) For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

Ephesians 5:22 (ESV) Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

Ephesians 1:13 (ESV) In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

My LORD is sanctifying me through my husband and our children daily, just as He is sanctifying my husband through me daily and our children through us both daily. Of all people upon this earth, it is my children, my husband and my in-laws who have – in Christ’s holy anointing – led me to the most repentance. 

God is giving us a precious picture of His beautiful echad – oneness – arising, as His Holy breath blows upon us, His children. And one day my loved ones will see that and tremble with me at God’s goodness to us as a family and to the Body as a whole.

I praise God for Christ’s intercession through my mother and her best friend. My Heavenly Father heard my mother’s and her best friend’s cries: for they were the very cries of His Son, Jesus, in them. The cries to restore my confidence – not in idols and doctrines suffocating His breath in me – but in the One true God, who is knitting us all together into His beautiful echad, in our setting apart unto His holy purpose. 

For, Christ desires not for us to bow to each other to put up a false front of unity, as we adhere to the enemy’s doctrines that straightjacket us and suffocate God’s holy breath in us. No, He desires for each one of us to – go and bear fruit that abides – to brightly shine the unique part of His Body we have been purposed to be into this world. That we – and each member of Christ’s Body – may arise into that beautiful echad in His headship that He planned and purposed from the very beginning.

Zechariah 14:9 KJV And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one. 

Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil

Our Prodigal loved ones are sealed by the Holy Spirit unto eternity (Ephesians 1:13-14). That means they are the LORD’s – they are, even now, vital and purposed members of His Body. May the LORD guide us through His Spirit to pray for them according to His good and perfect will and not according to our flesh.

When my Mum prayed for my future husband through my early Prodigal years, she didn’t ask for God to gift me a believer. She asked God to give me a man who would love me for who I am. When she met my future husband and his family for the first time, she knew the LORD had answered her prayers.

And my Dad? He had great peace in his heart, as he gave me away in marriage to my unbelieving Dutchman. I now look back and feel the pride of my Heavenly Father in my earthly father’s eyes that day. Did I mention already that our Heavenly Papa loves to perfect His power in our weakness – through His perfect love?

As we read the Scripture below, aloud, what word or phrase lingers? Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to reveal why it lingers and what God our Father wants us to see, know or do in response to His Word to us.

John 17 (ESV)

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. 

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”