Hearing God Guest Blog

Not long ago, I talked to a man who worked a number of years as a pastor before God called him to another ministry.

“What sermon subjects were important to you?” I asked him.

The two subjects he gave me were, “Hearing God” and “Discipleship.”

Both are near and dear to my heart, but since learning to hear God’s voice changed my life so dramatically, I wanted to learn more about what he had to say.

This week’s guest blog, “Hearing God” comes from that pastor. At the end I have added a link to one of my favorite “God’s Voice” songs.

Over the many years of my journey in Christ and ministry, I have often had opportunity to share my testimony.  Like many of you, my testimony begins with the first time I “heard” Father God’s voice and knew he was talking to me.

(I have qualified the word ‘heard’, because I didn’t actually hear a voice.  In fact, I didn’t hear anything.  Rather, I saw.  God gave me a life-changing vision of myself on that first occasion.  I have since learned that God often “speaks” by vision as well as by words.  But that is a topic for a different occasion.)

This message from God was life-changing because of what it told me about myself and about how God feels about me.  It rocked me and forever changed the direction of my life.  I shall never forget it.

There is a school of thought in Christianity that contends God no longer speaks to his people.  There is no need for Him to speak, they contend, because He has already said everything he has to say in the canon of Scripture.  Aside from the obvious fact that this is counter to the experience of a vast number of Christians all through history, it postulates a very strange kind of love relationship indeed.  Remember, Father God is love.  Not just ‘loving’; He is love!  (1 John 4:8) That is his nature, his essence.

Writing to the disciples in Rome, the apostle Paul wrote, “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us…”  (Romans 5:5) What a strange kind of love that would be if the only way it is expressed is in a book.   Imagine for a moment a marriage in which one of the partners, though present, never speaks but instead simply points their mate to the love letters written before they were married because in those letters everything that ever needs to be said was already said.  I think we would all agree that such a marriage has dim future prospects for survival.

Thankfully, that is not the kind of love relationship that Father God has made available to us by the blood of his Son. Jesus said of his relationship to us, his lambs, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me…they too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”  (John 10:14, 16)  Surely Jesus is saying that He will talk to us and that we will recognize that it is his voice.

But notice what it is that he will say: “You are mine.  I want you to know me.”  What an amazing and comforting invitation!  And this is exactly what I hear most often as I begin my day each morning with the words, “Father, what do you want to say to me?”  Almost invariably the Lord replies with assurance of his love.  Here are a few daily entries from my journal.

“I love you, son.  Go with me.  Walk with me today.  Walk in peace with me today.” 

“I love you.  I want to speak to you today.”

I love you.  I see that you are working at righteousness.  Let me do it.  Let me clothe you with my righteousness, my power and my joy.” 

“I love you.  People are going to hurt you.  You have to just let it go.  I never will.  I will never abandon you.  I will always be there with you and for you.” 

I could continue many times over, but I’m sure you see the pattern.  Love must find expression.  Father never tires of telling me he loves me.  That is the message that changed my life initially, and that is the message from him that assures me daily.  He never tires of telling me that he loves me, the real me.   That’s good, because I need to hear those precious words often.  His words of love to me heal my insecurity and anchor my soul.

How about you?  Have you heard his voice lately?  Have you taken time to listen?  Try this little exercise:

  • Find a quiet place and time
  • Fix your attention on Jesus. Picture him talking to the disciples, with you sitting among them.  (It’s ok to use your imagination.  God gave it to you so that you can see the invisible.)
  • Ask him a question that’s on your heart. If you don’t have one, begin by simply asking him what he wants to tell you.
  • Tune to words and pictures that come to your mind. God speaks through spontaneous thoughts.
  • Write down what you get that you think is from the Lord. Writing it helps you remember and reflect upon what you heard and saw.  And then you can check later to see if it lines up with The Book.

The shepherd is calling us, inviting us to know him.  Let’s run to him.

“Ever So Gently” by Brian Doerksen and Cindy Rethmeier.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHckwBoR1tA

 

 

 

 

 

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Yay! He Gets It

I called a loved one yesterday, and it turned into an exciting phone call.

We talked first about our concerns for another loved one who faced dire circumstances in his life after a series of wrong choices.

Then he shared the good news. He received Jesus as his savior in recent weeks.

He told me of some changes in his life—getting out of an unhealthy relationship with a woman, moving to a city hours away to get away from evil influences, giving up turning to substances to deal with anxiety, going to church every Sunday, and being excited about all he heard there.

He went on to give me details of the sermons.

Wow! This from a man who over the years avoided church because he found it boring.

I recalled years earlier when my husband and I brought him to our church as a teen. When the altar call came, he communicated, “I feel like I should go forward, but I don’t want to miss out on fun in high school.”

Not long after, his pursuit of fun led to many troubles. Still he continued to say, “no” to the Lord.

He recovered some, and went away to college. I didn’t see him too often in the years since, and we had no contact information. But there was a period where I heard he battled drug abuse.

He overcame that, and each time he would pop back into our lives since I would ask him if he was ready to say “yes” to Jesus.

And every time his answer remained, “I should, but…”

In recent years, he sought out my husband and me, and we would go out to lunch. He told us how much he enjoyed time with us, but still he resisted giving in to the Lord.

Now at the age of 37, the “yes” came.

“I used to think you were crazy because you always wanted to talk about God,” he said. “But you didn’t care what I thought. You never gave up on talking to me.

“Now I get it,” he continued. “I want to talk about God all the time now too.”

I rejoiced in that statement and to hear him declare these truths:

“Now I know there’s nothing in this world which can make my life better. Only God can.”

“The reason I battle anxiety is because of sin. I need to deal with the sin in my life.”

“Even pills a doctor gives are not the answer. The answers are in the Bible.”

“If I live a righteous life, that’s where I can find happiness.”

“It’s like I was living in the dark, and suddenly I’m in the light.”

I remember in recent weeks feeling bad that so many people I prayed for over the years continued to resist the Lord. This man was one of them.

Now suddenly God touched Him. His testimony reminded me of God’s power to draw people to Himself. No, I didn’t understand the timing, (it took a long time) but I celebrated the victory. And I rejoiced that God continued to lead me to plant seeds in his life. He expressed his gratitude for that again and again in our conversation.

“I don’t want to hang up,” he said. “I want to keep talking to you about all that’s happening in my life.”

I continue to celebrate this man who was lost and has now been found, who was blind and can now see. Soon my husband and I will go to see him and celebrate in person.

My conversation and the news from him remind me to keep on praying for those on my “continue to resist the Lord” prayer list. Some have been on my list for decades. But God is faithful. In His way and time He will bring them to Himself.

My phone conversation affirms to me the power of prayer and the power God has to soften a hardened heart and draw those who may seem like hopeless cases into his kingdom.

These verses come to mind:

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people…This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. “ (1 Timothy 2: 1, 3-4 NIV)

I look forward to others on my prayer list coming to know the Lord. The title and subtitle of a book I’m reading comes to mind: God Is Good: He’s Better Than You Think. 

Note: I am also celebrating that in response to a recent blog I wrote, one of my best friends from high school prayed the salvation prayer. Praise the Lord!

This song came to mind after my conversation with my new brother in Christ.

“In The Light” by DC Talk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pF-j8PbeuYc&list=RDpF-j8PbeuYc

 

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Run Seven Miles? Impossible! Not!

When my daughter asked me to run with her a number of years ago, I had doubts I would be able to accomplish the task.

I hadn’t run in years, and problems with my feet plagued me when I tried to return to running in the past. My knees hurt a bit as well. Then there was the tingling in my left thigh when I tried to run. Not to mention the pressure on my bladder.

Since that time I entered quite a few 5K races with her, and I even won second place in my age group in one of them. The tingling in my thigh disappeared, my knees hurt only occasionally, and my foot problem improved with better shoes. Also, I’ve worked through the bladder issue.

There was a little whisper of, “That’s impossible,” when Tami asked me to run back then, but I wanted to spend time with her, so I tried it, asking God to give me strength and direction. He helped me do what I thought I couldn’t.

“I could never run a 10K,” I announced to Tami at one of the running events when I saw others getting ready for that race. The 6 mile plus distance truly seemed like an impossibility.

But not too long ago, I ran further than I have in my life–seven miles. I didn’t start out to accomplish what I saw as an impossibility. My goal was to improve my time on the 5K. The instructions I found online said to run four days a week: 30 minutes, 40 minutes, 40 minutes, and on one day 4-7 miles. I didn’t think I could ever build up to the seven miles, but as I added a bit more distance each week, I did it.

When I tell people this, it’s not to brag or say, “Look how special I am.” What I want to communicate is, “Look how amazing God is. I moved toward a task that seemed impossible, and with His help, I accomplished it.”

I remember thinking it would be impossible to keep on running through the summer, but this year I’ve done that as well. I wear a “stay cool” visor with a cooling gel in the part that rests on my forehead. Around my neck I have a cooling cloth, which I refresh with cold water during my run from the bottle of frozen water I carry on my run, which melts along the way. I make sure I get up at sunrise, and I have an energy bar before the run and a protein shake after.

I’ll be 64 soon, and I feel healthier than I have my whole life–not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually.

Running draws me closer to the Lord. I use the time to pray and worship. I marvel at the beauty of nature–His creation. When I run, I sense Him with me. I think through writing projects and work through emotional issues with Him along the way. Also, I feel less stressed as I maintain my running routine.

Yesterday as I ran my seven miles, (on my long distance day, I do 5, 6, or 7 miles) I thought of other areas of my life which felt like impossible situations. Once I accomplished the goal of a seven-mile run, I realized anew God wants to assist me with every “impossible” circumstance in my life.

Some which come to mind are dealing with certain difficult people, accomplishing my writing goals, and finishing hard, time-consuming tasks around the house.

God also brought to mind impossiblities from the past where I saw Him intervene in powerful ways: the healing of our marriage, deliverance from depression, writing a full-length book, using a computer, learning how to write and post a blog. And the list goes on.

Instead of embracing an “I can’t; it’s hopeless” attitude, I can go to God and be reminded, “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26 NIV)

My problem over the years centers on my tendency to want to do things on my own or in my own strength instead of “with God.”

Once the weather cools off a bit, I plan to sign up for a 10K race. I look forward to it. And when I cross the finish line, I will give God all the credit for allowing it to happen.

I’m excited to see what other seeming impossibilities God will challenge me with in the days ahead.

“All Things Are Possible” by Darlene Zschech

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_NcescDvdQ

 

 

 

 

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Believing the Impossible Repost

Today I’m reposting a blog I posted on December 1, 2013 titled, “Believing the Impossible.” Next week I will post a new blog on another situation which seemed impossible to my human thinking. Please see the update on this blog at the end. I can’t help but remember a saying I heard from someone years ago, “God loves the word impossible.”

*****

Not long ago I was challenged to believe the impossible.

While I was out to breakfast with my mom’s siblings—my aunt and three uncles–my Uncle Jimmy said, “Elaine, we’d really like to have your mom come here for Mary’s birthday.”

My aunt was turning 80 in several weeks. My first thought was “that’s impossible.” My mom and dad lived in Florida, and Dad is disabled and has great difficulty allowing Mom to travel and leave him behind. She had done it once in the years since his severe fall, but he had such a hard time having her away that he said, “I don’t think I can ever allow you to do that again.” He was lonely without her. He also suffers from severe chronic pain and wanted her around when he was in distress.

I voiced what I now see as unbelief to the whole group with my “That’s impossible” statement.

“And besides,” I added, “Mom has flown alone on an airplane only once and that was many years ago.” Now she was almost 79 years old. I couldn’t travel with her because I couldn’t get off of work to do so.

To me the matter seemed closed.

Then Uncle Jimmy spoke up again. “I believe your dad’s heart is changing about letting your mom travel.”

I had not seen that.

On the way home from Chicago to Florida, my mind and heart were being challenged by what my uncle said. What if my dad’s heart was changing? What if God was changing his heart? Would I still hold to my “it’s impossible” stand and not do my part if this is what God had in mind?

The bottom line is that my mom did get to go to the Chicago area to her sister’s 80thbirthday. There were no arguments from Dad when the subject was presented. Instead he said, “That sounds like an excellent idea, and I’ll do whatever it takes to allow it to happen.”

The plan as to how to make it happen came to me from the Lord. It’s as if the Lord dictated the instructions. This is how it went.

Steve and I drove the three hours to pick up Mom and Dad and bring them to our house. The next morning I drove Mom to the airport. I knew she would feel lost and alone being on her own in the airport, so I got a wheel chair for her and I was allowed to take her to the gate and wait with her there until she boarded the plane. My brother met her at the gate on the other end. She stayed with my brother and his wife and her grandchildren and had wonderful visits with her siblings and a great time at the party where all the relatives were gathered.

My father stayed with Steve and me, and while I worked Steve took care of my dad serving him food and helping him with his needs. Dad seemed not to suffer from loneliness since he always had me or Steve to talk to. After four days away I picked my mom up at the airport and Steve and I drove them back to their home the next day.

I do see that lately there are other situations in my life that seem impossible. There are issues with my job. There are physical and mental health issues of other relatives. There are loved ones who are having serious relationship problems. Others are unsaved, and it seems impossible for them to ever come to the Lord.

The verse that keeps being proclaimed in my heart and mind lately is

With God nothing is impossible (Matthew 10:26).

I can’t make things happen (I try so hard to sometimes) but with God they can happen. I can’t say that they will happen, but He is certainly able to do far above all that I could ask of think—just as He did in the situation with Mom travelling.

Today I’m bringing my impossibilities to the Lord and confessing my unbelief. I am declaring that I know now that God is able to do anything—that with Him nothing is impossible. I’m once again letting go of fretting and of trying to make things happen in my own strength.

Here’s another verse that declares truth to my soul:

 Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. Jeremiah 32:17

God is so good and so powerful. Will you dare to bring your seemingly impossible situations to Him and believe that wholeheartedly today?

Update on my mother’s travels: tomorrow I leave for the Chicago area with Mom, so she can visit her siblings again. As I continued to believe God for the impossible in helping my mom to connect with her siblings, I have brought her up north twice since her sister’s birthday. My husband, Steve, takes care of my father–a task which also seemed impossible. He does get some help from our daughters, but God is stretching him in this new area of service. Also, my dad’s heart has remained humble as he sacrifices and allows my mom to have time away from him.

I have made a commitment which I believe came from the Lord–as long as the Lord allows, I will bring my mother up north to see her siblings once a year. Last year she had two good visits with her brother who lived in an ALF. He was delighted to see her. She visited in July, and he died in November. How wonderful that she was able to see him and enjoy some quality time together before he went home to be with the Lord.

God works out the details as I determine to believe for the impossible.

“Nothing Is Impossible” by Planetshakers

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Continued Release From Shame

If I had a party and no one came, it would trigger a great deal of shame.

This thought went through my mind as I sat at a local coffee shop where the monthly writers group meeting I lead takes place.

A party? No, but sometimes it felt like one since the members of this group enjoy a deep connection.

I knew one of the members couldn’t attend because she was celebrating her wedding anniversary. Another said she was busy getting ready to go on a trip on the weekend. A newer member said she had another meeting at the same time.

Then I received an email from someone else saying he had hoped to come but got rear-ended the day before and needed to deal with the car repair.

But at least there will be two here today, I thought.

Then I checked my email. One of the members who said she would be there now said she couldn’t come. She didn’t say why.

I was down to one. It was a member who hadn’t joined us in a while, but he did say in an email he planned to attend.

A half hour passed. I knew no one was coming. I thought back to years before when a friend who led a prayer group asked if I would lead until she got there. Not only did no one come to the prayer meeting, the lady who asked me to lead didn’t show up either.

That day back then I dealt with deep feelings of rejection. At the time I didn’t know to say what I felt was shame.

But this day as God continued to reveal areas of shame and triggers of shame, I knew that’s what I battled inside. At least I now could identify it as such.

Another thought came to mind, I can choose not to give in to shame. The enemy tried hard to get me to do the opposite. If I were a better leader… If the group was more exciting…If I were more loving and caring…If I were a better writer…then people would be here today, the enemy taunted me.

The good news was I didn’t receive the taunts. Yes, I felt disappointed because I missed seeing the people in our group. But it wasn’t my defects which kept them away. Their absence did not prove I was fatally flawed and a complete failure as a group leader.

I decided to stay there a while and work on some writing. I did further editing on poems I brought with me. I looked up the Wednesday poetry prompt on the Writer’s Digest website. It said to write a form poem called a sestina. I studied the form and looked up some poems online written in that form.  I knew I would write about shame for this poem.

I enjoyed the decaf caramel latte I ordered. It seemed to be the best drink I ever ordered there.

Writing a sestina appeared a big endeavor, so I decided to wait until a later time to write the poem, but I left the coffee shop feeling a sense of release. A cloud of shame did not hang over me. Instead I felt God’s love surround me.

Later at home I read a letter from a ministry I support, which has a radio show called “Revive Our Hearts.” I hadn’t listened lately because of my work schedule but realized I could have been listening online. So I decided to do so. As I looked at recent shows I saw three days in a row centered on the subject of shame.

I listened to show #1. The guest, Heather Davis Nelson, wrote a book on the subject, Unashamed: Healing Our Brokenness and Finding Freedom From Shame. That’s just what I needed. God had brought me so far in dealing with brokenness and release from shame, but I knew He wasn’t finished with me yet.

I listened carefully as the author shared truths about shame: “Shame makes you want to hide. You feel flawed.” “Triggers for shame in woman are appearance and relationships. She spoke of how women feel shame in their roles as mother or wife. .” “Shame comes as a result of sin.”  She tied shame in with perfectionism and comparing, issues which I battled for years. “Trauma leads to shame.” “Shame says, ‘I’m fatally flawed and without hope.'” I could relate to all of this.

“The remedy is to talk to God and others,” Heather instructed.

Then the host of the show said, “We find freedom from shame at the cross.”

God revealed that truth to me years ago. As I thought of how gracious God was to lead me to a radio show which dealt with his desire to continue healing in me, I celebrated I no longer had shame based on appearance, but I still had a ways to go in the area of shame based on performance and related to sins I so desired to conquer.

This morning as I listened to the Bible on my Kindle on the way to work, I heard the word “shame.” Once again God spoke to me, this time through David who said, “I will…not be put to shame.” (vs 26) Later as I went over other verses in Psalm 119, these phrases which seemed related to shame caught my attention: “Take away the disgrace I dread…preserve my life…May your unfailing love come to me…your salvation according to your promise; then I will answer the one who taunts me, for I trust in your word. (vs 39-42) The last phrase spoke deeply to my heart. If I trusted what God said about me and how He felt about me, I did not have to give in to the taunts of the devil who tried to lay shame and disgrace on me.

I’m going to listen to those other two other radio programs. I plan to order the book Unashamed. I feel determined to allow God to complete the work He began in me in regard to shame. Lately He has also showed me how I battle shame in regard to being ignored by so many people in my life and at times it seems even by Him.

Years ago I thought, I’m addicted to shame. Now I realize the enemy attempts regularly to get me back into an addictive relationship with this oppressive and at times immobilizing feeling.

But I refuse to succumb.

I will continue to celebrate God’s desire to set me free from all that keeps me from being who He called me to be. My heart’s desire remains to cooperate with His plan for my freedom and continued healing.

I plan to write that sestina. I want the theme to be: He sets me free from shame, and no matter what happens, He loves me the same.

Just as I was getting ready to post this, a friend sent me this text with a link to the trailer for the movie, “The Heart of Man.”

“Powerful movie on healing shame coming Sept 14. (we all need this!)”

Yes, we do!

God, thank You for speaking again and again to my heart about this issue which at times takes hold of me and hinders me from a close walk with You. Because of this, I sense Your deep love for me.

“Take Heart” Hillsong United

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MfBQ30Ta9w

 

 

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My Heavenly Home

A number of years ago, God brought me to a verse as I searched for truths from Scripture which would bring comfort to my soul during a difficult period. Each of these verses contained the word “comfort.”

“…and so always (through the eternity of the eternities) we shall be with the Lord! Therefore comfort and encourage one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18 NIV)

That verse came to mind recently while I listened to a song by Chris Tomlin called “Home.”

Some days I feel afraid of death because I don’t know what heaven will be like. The mystery of it all intimidates me. But the truths in this song remind me of wonderful promises in Scripture about the place where God promises because I know Jesus as my Savior, I will spend eternity.

The best part of the eternal home God promises me is meeting Jesus there. No longer will He be invisible. I love the thought that He will hold me there in His arms.

I remember a song I heard during a visit to a local church. I tried to find the song since but couldn’t. One truth came to light in the song: while Jesus erased my sins when He died on the cross here on earth, heaven will erase my sorrows.

What a beautiful promise.

I admit I deal with multiple sorrows on this earth. Some days I feel overwhelmed by sadness. But the promises God gives me center on the fact that heaven will be different.

But in the “mean” time, I realize anew I need to be busy fulfilling the mission God has for me on this earth. I think of what Jesus said to the Father, “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4 NIV). I want to be able to say the same. God isn’t finished with me yet as far as my assignment here on earth.

As I listened again to the song, “Home,” today, I thought of all those who don’t have a positive image of that word. Home can be filled with pain and heartache. Home can be the place where abuse happened. Home can be a place lost through fire, financial disaster, or other tragedies.

But heaven, my eternal home, will be the perfect home where I will attain everything which I missed in my earthly homes—complete safety and eternal security, perfect love, total acceptance, pure joy, heavenly peace.

One sadness in my life centers on the fact that so many people I care deeply about don’t have a relationship with Jesus and resist receiving Him as Savior. Not only do I want to spend eternity in heaven, but I long to bring my loved ones with me to my heavenly home.

I pray regularly for the Lord to tear down the walls of resistance these loved ones have set up to keep God out of their lives.

I cannot save them or tear down those walls, but God can. I trust Him to answer my prayers that they will meet me in our new “home.”

I praise God for the promise of heaven and look forward to spending eternity there with Him and my loved ones.

How about you? Do you have full assurance that you will spend eternity in heaven with Jesus? Has there ever been a time in your life when you invited Jesus in to be your Savior and Lord? If not, you can do so right now. Here is a salvation prayer/poem which I first found on a card which read “Billy Graham Salvation Poem:”

“Jesus, You died upon a cross

And rose again to save the lost.

Forgive me now of all my sin.

Come be my Savior, Lord, and Friend.

Change my life and make it new

And help me, Lord, to live for You.” Amen.

Let me know if you prayed that prayer. If so, I’ll see you at home—in heaven.

“Home” by Chris Tomlin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exoJr-aduTs

Other songs about heaven:

“Live On Forever” by The Afters

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9WEj6uLgmM

“This Is Not Where I Belong” by Building 429

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqIvoFWFhds

 

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Lord, What About My Prodigal?

Once again I continue to think about a certain prodigal a lot lately—perhaps because she recently celebrated a birthday.

I long for her to be “home,” so I can say to her, “Let’s pray about that,” and then pray together like we used to. I want her to share some wonderful insight like she did in days gone past which encouraged me so much—even in my walk with the Lord. I confess I miss the Christian version of my loved one. She possessed discernment, wisdom, and a radiance that shone brightly in her eyes and in her smile.

“How can someone who excelled at discernment of the truth fall so deeply into believing the lies of the enemy?” I asked a friend yesterday.

Even as I said the words, the answer came.

The enemy relentlessly attempts to blind those who desire to proclaim truth. As a writer, I sense him work diligently to keep me from my repeated broadcast of truths the Lord gives me. Some days I fall for lies, but then as I seek the Lord, He corrects me with His truth.

My friend assured me of my loved one’s return, as most people do.

Then as I jogged today and spoke to the Lord, He assured me again with these words, “She’s already home.”

God is not in time as I am, so He already sees her home. Is it wrong I want to see it too and experience that reality—especially before I die? Deep down I know I will experience the reality even if I die before her return is manifested.

Other questions I ask are, “Why do certain prodigals return more quickly than others while some stay away for decades?” One answer that comes to mind which goes along with the other about how one can believe lies after so totally embracing truth is this: pride.

At the core of this prodigal’s issues I believe is rejection. Years ago as I struggled with the spirit of rejection, someone gave me a teaching centered on this truth: we can deal with rejection one of two ways. We can go to God and get healed and delivered, or we can rebel. For a period of time I rebelled. I didn’t abandon my Christianity, but I couldn’t seem to forgive those who rejected me so harshly. Once I let go of pride and embraced forgiveness, the turnaround in my life amazed me. The freedom I felt lifted me higher than I ever thought I could go and drew me closer to the Lord than I ever imagined I could be.

In the midst of my sorrow over my prodigal staying away comes shame, which I wrote about in previous blogs as my core issue. Somehow it feels like it must be at least partially my fault my loved one rejected God. She spent large amounts of time with me as I tried to be a witness for the Lord to her. Was my witness too weak? Did she say, “I don’t like what she has?”

I remember two occasions at my home church when that sense of shame heightened. Once was when a man from the pulpit said, “I must have done things right. My children are walking close to the Lord.” What I heard, “You did everything wrong.”

Another time I asked for prayer for my prodigal child in a lady’s Bible study at my church, and a fellow mom said, “My child wandered from the Lord a short time, but then I prayed, and she came right back.” My conclusion? She knows how to pray a prodigal home, and I don’t.

These shame issues tend to be buried, but God allows them to come to the surface, so I can deal with them—sometimes again and again. He shows me the enemy works hard in his attempts to blame and shame me in regard to prodigals I pray for and other seemingly unanswered prayers and my perceived failures as a Christian.

What tears at my heart is how time is wasted in this precious one’s life. She missed giving glory to God all these years she stayed away. But I have to believe God can restore the years the locusts have eaten. I have to believe the words He speaks that “she’s already home.” I have to cling to Him even though I don’t understand how someone who had such a strong faith abandoned it or how He could have allowed it when it seems He keeps other people’s faith intact, despite many trials and traumas.

I can hear people saying, “She has free will.”

Yes, she does.

Recently at my Bible study, I left a prayer card with a fellow member of the group. Our practice is to write down the prayer request and then the other person prays and lets the requester know what they believe God is speaking to them about the subject. Then the person who initiated the prayer takes it back to the Lord. This is what this friend said when I asked for prayer for my prodigal. I receive what she passed along. I hold to it and to the Lord. I release any shame connected to this, and I wait with love in my heart like the father of the prodigal did in the Scripture. (See Luke 15:20)

CALL FORTH THOSE THINGS THAT ARE NOT AS THOUGH THEY WERE. (Romans 4:17…the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.)

INVITE ME INTO THE SITUATION. KEEP ME IN CONTROL THROUGH PRAISE. SPEAK MY WORDS OVER HER. THEY ARE POSITIVE—NEVER NEGATIVE. SHE IS MINE, BUT YOU MUST GIVE HER COMPLETELY TO ME. LOVE HER THE WAY SHE IS, EXPECTING NOTHING—JOYFUL AND EXUBERANT, AS YOU LAVISH MY LOVE ON HER. SHE WILL NOT RESIST MY LOVE. TREAT HER AS IF SHE IS TOTALLY MINE—A WHOLE CHRISTIAN—MADE WHOLE—AS YOU WANT TO BE TREATED. I LOVE YOU, ELAINE. YOUR FAITHFUL FATHER.

This song from Lauren Daigle lifted my spirits in regard to prodigals I pray for on a regular basis. I praise God for using singers and songwriters to lift me up and remind me of God’s love and power.

“Come Alive (Dry Bones)” by Lauren Daigle

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1u9pC4xFM14

 

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