Part 3: Chapter 3 – Day 2: Blossoms of Peace in His Time

Welcome to Day 2 of Part 3‘s Chapter 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a free will offering in a testimony to the blossoming staff of Christ’s holiness that leads and comforts us through the valley of the shadow of death, shedding the old for the new.

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 (ESV) 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 my 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 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. 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 (KJVVerily, 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.

Part 2: Chapter 3 – Day 5: Not by Might, Not by Power

Welcome to Day 5 of Part 2‘s Chapter 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a free will offering of gold in the form of poetry and a testimony to God’s perfecting power.

Draw Near


Grief waits upon
No one
It swells
And breaks
My placid perfect
Life awake.

Now spit
And foam
The Promises
Long hid
Come rushing
Crashing
Back to Life.

The longing
From my heart
His Promises
To know
Long hid away
In drawers
Fastened
Shut.

But as the waves
Swell
And break
The drawers
Loose
His Promises
To life.

My body, mind
And soul
In Spirit breath
Awake.

From deep within
The Living Word
Each Promise
Brings
In Holy Spirit breath
To sing.

For in grief's
Wake
My heart
Draws near
Christ's heart
To hear.

This childlike heart
In steadfast love is
Rootèd secure:

That I might
Taste and see
The width
And breadth
And depth
Of Christ.

At the end of 2014, the loss of my Mum weighed so heavily on my heart. Those last few weeks with her were precious beyond measure, as God revealed Himself to me in my and my mother’s weakness, bringing me home to Him through the touch of His Holy Spirit. But helping to bathe, feed and care for her in her last days left its toll on me.

I couldn’t shake the exhaustion felling my body daily, and when a friend sent me an email about God calling her to surrender to His rest, it affirmed what had been on my own heart to do: to hand in my resignation to my employer. In the coming weeks and months, that surrender made room for me to feel, what I had suppressed.

As grief rose up within me, so did the memories of the cancer’s ravaging effects on the body of my mother. Overpowering waves rose up and crashed over me: fear and unbelief shouted loudly at me. But as the enemy waged war for my soul, the Spirit of God arose to defend me. He did so through the Word of God.

I had been reading through the whole New Testament, with a small group from my little Anglican church, leading up to the Lent of 2015. As I read the pure pages of God’s Word, with no interruptions from commentaries or others’ interpretations, the Spirit of God spoke to me personally. He invited me to bring Him my grief and the Promises I couldn’t see Him fulfilling in my own life.

As I did so, He answered my deepest cries. Lifting every accusation against me by the power of His Word, He led my heart to repentance. He showed me that He had never abandoned me, or my Mum. He gave me beautiful visions that affirmed the truth of eternal wholeness and healing, and of His Promise to hold each one of us in His hands, that He might complete what He started in us, to set us before the Father, healed and whole.

Recently, as He brought all of this to remembrance again, I noticed that He was taking me through a similar process all over again. There are many things He has had me lay down in surrender recently, for similar reasons. As I have done so, the true desires of my heart have surfaced, as have deep waves of grief, as God has convicted me in my sin.

I have been waiting on God for something for seven years. But God has been waiting on me to draw ever nearer to Him in this, that He might reveal Himself to me there fully and wholly. Don’t get me wrong, I have taken steps in faith toward this Promise and have seen God honor these steps with beautiful glimpses of His coming fulfillment. But God rightly convicted my heart again recently, as He showed me that I have gradually become satisfied with the status quo.

In my horrid unbelief, I have settled for less, just as I have done in the past. I have placed before God lesser desires to fill the hole in my heart. And God has given me what I asked Him for, only to each time show me that it is not what my heart truly desires. In inviting me to lay each lesser desire back down again, He has been calling to me to bring Him my deepest and truest desires.

As He uncovered this all, He reminded me of those final weeks with my Mum and what moved His heart in compassion. It was not our strength, but our weakness: our realization that we could do absolutely nothing to save each other: me – my Mum from dying physically, my Mum – me and others from dying spiritually and being cut off from God forever.

As our lips were silenced, mine in overwhelming grief that no words could ever describe and my Mum’s, as the cancer took away her ability to communicate, the Holy Spirit spoke in power. For, God poured out His salving balm of peace and His heart healing power in our midst. He brought me, His Prodigal daughter, home and He lifted so many burdens from my Mum, bringing her home to heaven, healed and whole.

I now see how Jesus has been waiting for me to cry out to Him in my weakness, just as my Mum did, that He might bring me into alignment with His Word to me. He has not been ashamed of me in my unbelief, but just as the man whose daughter was dead did in the Bible, He wants me to cry out in Spirit and truth – “LORD I believe, but help my unbelief.”

All along, God has been inviting me to come, just as I am, without one plea, to the foot of the Cross. He has been inviting me to be made holy as He is holy – not in my striving, but by allowing His Holy Spirit to pour out upon me in compassion to do in and through me what I could never ever do in and of myself.

Now, thanks to His persevering mercy, I am bowing my knees afresh before Him in my need, crying out for His mercy to flow. It is this deep, deep gutteral cry for His holiness – the desire that breaks our heart the most, as we recognize our absolute inability to fulfill it – that breaks His heart the most when we fail to lay it before Him, asking Him to fulfill it.

For, Jesus is longing for us to become like little children before Him. He longs for us to believe that when we ask Him for bread, He will not give us stones, but He will give us Himself- our bread of life – the free gift of faith to meet us in our unbelief.

If you recognize yourself in my struggles with unbelief, will you join me in kneeling before our Maker today, that in our weakness, His power might be perfected?

Father, thank You for Your Word that promises us the pure of heart shall see You. Thank You that Your Word to us reminds us that the pure of heart are those whose hearts have been washed in the blood of Your Son, Jesus, to uncover His holiness.

Father, forgive us, where we have clung to the enemy’s accusations above Your holy Word. Forgive us for not bringing you the deepest desires of our heart to be holy as you are holy. Forgive us for not acknowledging our unbelief before you. Forgive us for not believing that You are a good Father who will not give us stones when we cry out for bread.

Thank You that Your Word and our experience of your goodness and mercy in our lives, remind us that it is not by might, not by power, but by Your Spirit that Your Word to us comes to pass.

Father, we do not want our lamps to go out. We long to be prepared for the arrival of the Bridegroom – our LORD and Savior, Jesus. But we acknowledge now that we have allowed our oil to dissipate because we have failed to come to You in our weakness, we have failed to ask You to pour out Your Holy Spirit upon us. Forgive us. Today, we seek Your face afresh and beseech You to fill our lamps with the fresh oil of Your Holy Spirit and we ask You to keep turning us toward You that You may continue to fill us, again and again.

Thank You that we shall see the deepest desires of our hearts manifest before us in the unveiling of Jesus in our midst. Thank You that in our weakness, as our knees bow before You to acknowledge our imperfection and our deep desire for Your holy perfection, we shall see Your power pour out upon us.

Thank You that not one Word of Yours shall return void. Thank You that our hearts shall yet rise again, no longer chained to unbelief, but set free in Christ Jesus to arise with fresh faith to see Him- our Promise – come to life before our very eyes.

Thank You for Your tender mercies toward us. Father, today we stretch out our emptied hands and hearts, thanking You for Your pruning hands and inviting You to fill our hands and hearts anew with the fresh, warm manna of Your Word. We believe, Father, but help our unbelief!

In Jesus’ Name, we cry: Amen.

Living water rushes
Strong, crashing
My heart to search
And know
In waves of mercy
The blood of Christ
Still flows.

Before, behind
Beneath, above
My Savior sings
And calls to me:
"Draw near
And I'll draw near
To you."

Each day anew
My burdened heart
Christ draws near
In Word and Spirit
He beckons to me
Come.

It's now I know
In all my waiting
All along it's been
My God
Who's been waiting
On me.

To humble myself
To lay down
Every distraction
To bring Him
Not just a part
But my whole heart
To trust Him
When He says:

I will fight for you
You have only
To be silent
To be still
And know that
I alone am God!
I will be exalted
Among the nations
I will be exalted
In the earth.