I am on a journey.
A healing journey, yes, but also a journey of learning to cultivate intimacy with God.
This journey captivates me.
Hearing my heavenly Father speak words of love into my life has been life-giving and freeing. There is such joy in communicating with the Father in this way – in a relationship that is truly reciprocal.
It has been several weeks now, since I attended the 3 Crosses retreat in Muskoka, for what can best be described as a prayer and ‘listening’ experience.
The weekend began with some teaching about learning to discern God’s voice. There was a time to enquire of the Lord, as to why He had brought each of us to that place, and to dedicate our time into His hands.
On Saturday morning, we were each prayed over and sent out on the three-hour, solitary prayer walk. A time to intentionally quiet the distractions, and focus solely on our heavenly Father in the midst of His beautiful creation. A time to “Be still and know that [He] is God”. Psalm 46:10
One of the sites along the walk was a beautiful, grassy meadow adorned with emerald trees – Gethsemane. To be clear, we were not in Israel, but for the purpose of the retreat this was the place to contemplate that last Thursday Jesus spent in the olive grove with His disciples on the night He was betrayed. An opportunity to reflect on the deep anguish that Jesus suffered as He prayed…
“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine…He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood” Luke 22:42-44 (NLT)
As I meditated on the events of that night, I was struck afresh by the magnitude of the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf. Jesus, who was fully human, knew the agony that lay ahead, but surrendered fully and willingly to His Father’s plan.
It broke me. Tears streamed as I thanked Him.
I sensed Him answer my words of thanks. Not in an audible voice, but in a quiet whisper to my heart of hearts…
Yes, my child. These things I did out of my great love for you. The price was extravagant, but you are worthy of the price because of WHO you are in the Father’s eyes – clothed in the righteousness of Christ, forgiven, chosen, redeemed, adopted, and loved beyond measure. His most precious child.
I have been on this journey of learning to discern the Father’s voice for a little while now. It never ceases to amaze me that what seems to be most pressing on His heart to share, are words that affirm His great love for me, and affirm my identity as His child.
When I have heard others share their journeys of ‘listening’, this seems this is true for them as well. For me, this is a wonderful confirmation that these words come from my loving, heavenly Father. I find further confirmation in His word…
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
1 John 3:1
Still sitting in the garden, I sensed Him continue to whisper…
Rest in me. My sacrifice was not just to save you from – from death, destruction, eternal separation. It was to save you for – for life, joy, love, abundance, intimate encounters with me. Times like this.
There was a peace as I heard these words. While they challenge, there is no condemnation.
These words are consistent with what I know of His character, and of the things I know to be true – that He is loving, that He has plans to prosper us and not to harm us, and that He promises us a life of abundance.
Another site on the listening experience was the upper three crosses. As I sat at the foot of the cross in that place, a phrase from the MP3 recording stood out to me. “Death that leads to new life”. As I heard this, my eye was drawn to a fresh young shoot of green, bursting forth from a dead-looking stump.
I sensed the Lord whisper these words…
You have no idea, many times, of the great work I am doing. The things that appear stagnant, hopeless and dead to you will blossom abundantly in my perfect timing. Trust in my sovereignty, my goodness, my plan. You may not be able to see my hand at work in your life, but surely, I AM.
As I heard this, verses from Exodus 3 came to mind…
But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is His name?’ Then what should I tell them?”
God replied to Moses, “I am who I am. Say this to the people of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.”
Exodus 3:13-14 (NLT)
For me, this was so reassuring. I was reminded that the God who I love is the same powerful God of the Old Testament who created the universe, parted the Red Sea, and led His people out of slavery. Of course, I knew this in my head, but there is incredible power in coming to a place where your heart begins to understand and accept these truths as well.
Our loving, heavenly Father knows and understands the struggles we each face. He cares deeply, but He is not worried in the least – He’s got this. He can see the big picture, and He is surely redeeming our brokenness for good. He is so very fond of His precious children.
May you be blessed with hearing the Father’s words of love and affirmation for you, sweet one,