Now to conclude this 3-part post – and please, dear readers, if you are sick of this subject, do graciously remember that my blogging is more for my benefit than yours: I’m just letting you in on my process!
After being reminded of the narrative of Jacob’s sore hip I then had one of those moments of revelation that cause everything to suddenly make sense: Of course! God has spoken to me through his story before – an earlier part of it. It was way back at the end of 2005/early 2006 when I was going into a time of major change in what I was doing. I’d spent 7 years working hard with prayer teams, serving others, travelling around the country, helping with making prayer walks happen… In December 2005, despite my England focus, I’d done one week in Europe – from Nice to Genoa – on Steve Lowton’s prayer-walk from Whitby to Rome. It was marked as a finishing point for me and that sense only increased in the early months of the new year. Do you know how it feels when the grace you had for something lifts off? God is speaking. We cannot just continue doing what we always did, no matter how good it seemed – that is religion: the Holy Spirit always challenges us to move on with Her 😉
What now? Times of transition are so difficult when all you know is you have to let go of the familiar patterns and people and enter an empty space to wait for the next season to open up. Sometimes it doesn’t open up for some time – I have a couple of friends who have been waiting for about 8 years now! The sense of loss, emptiness and grief have to be faced, like any mourning process: the grain of wheat falls into the ground – it is a good seed, not a dead one that will produce a new crop! – but sowing it into the ground is a death. As I heard someone say the other day, “Surely all of life is learning to die?” We must lose our lives to gain them and this happens all the way through until the final surrender. Our hearts are tested in the desert – so at such times the word of the Lord comes as desperately needed bread and water!
I can’t remember how, but I was reminded then of Jacob working 7 years for Leah. He thought he was working for Rachel, but Laban tricked him and he got Leah instead. Leah was his fruitful wife, producing many sons – but she was not his beloved. Laban simply said it was only right that Leah, the older daughter, should be married first – squint and all – and Jacob could have Rachel as well if he worked another 7 years. Looking back I also recognise the ‘rightness’ of learning my skills and training my character through serving others before fully taking on my own mantle… they were years of fruitfulness in so many ways.
But then the Lord said, ‘now it’s 7 years for Rachel’ – and I knew it was time to return to my first love. It was as if I was being reminded that sometimes the work of the Lord can obscure the Lord of the work: I knew I had become so busy and pre-occupied that my heart had grown cold. Jesus is always calling us to put Him first – unless we ‘abide’ in Him we can do nothing: it is so easy to become distracted by many things. So I was encouraged that He had a plan to draw me closer to Him – inwardly perhaps more than in the outward expression of service. I know I definitely thought it would mean spending lots of time playing my guitar and singing worship songs… that had been my journey of intimacy up to that point. But things didn’t work out quite like that…
Sitting in the conservatory in Ile Tudy thinking about my painful hip, I realised that 2012 is the 14th year! I haven’t been thinking about it at all but suddenly I can see that somehow through all that’s happened since 2005, the Lord has done what He said and given me ‘Rachel’ – ie deeper closeness to Jesus. It was not through hours of singing but through acts of faith and courage as I stepped up to lead the Mercy Cry days, followed the prophetic direction given to me and spoke out the things I saw. In all of it I grew in dependence on Him – and He never, never let me down. I have grown in gifting and authority as He has stretched me and increased in the spirit of wisdom and revelation as I have come to know Him working within me and in my circumstances and relationships.
Over the last few years too, in the depths we have been taken to through Sam’s diagnosis, the battles of the heart and choices to stay faithful, persevering and trusting God through all the ups and downs – it is completely true – I love Jesus more than ever! There IS something of His intimacy that has rooted deep in me – much deeper than it ever was before. These days I rarely pick up my guitar and probably wouldn’t turn to some of those faded, sickly ballads if I did… But I have discovered a worship of the heart that goes beyond a song somebody else wrote, a certainty of love and union where Jesus is at home in me and I in Him, just as He promised… even when I cannot feel it and especially in silence and solitude.
How has that happened? On my journey with Jesus, as I’ve let Him do what He alone can do through trust and obedience, tears and struggles, hope and pain. It is the outworking of my favourite verse: ‘for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose’ Philippians 2v13. He/She has done it! How good is that?
So this pain in my hip tells me a 14 year journey that I’d forgotten all about is coming to completion! It underlines that it is a time of change again this year – for me and for many others. I am encouraged that there is a cross-over point, the door to the new era I have been seeing for 3 years… I don’t even really know what that means, but this reminder of Jacob convinces me of a future and a coming hope. It is a confirmation of what I have already been feeling and expressing in different ways over the past months.
I have even been ’emptying myself’ like Jacob in recent weeks as I have given up some areas of my fruitfulness and in faith ‘sent it on ahead’ – completing the Mercy Cry:Future Hope journey, delivering my Lent prophetic course, passing on those precious batons to a younger generation. I have been sending off my ‘flocks’ and ‘herds’ to cross over the river first – and I have ‘sent ahead’ my children too, let them go and given them up to choose their own way: I will no longer take control and am simply trusting the Lord to guide, protect and speak to them.
Empty-handed, face-to-face with God in the darkness of a long night at another point of transition… will I live or die? Can I hold on for the blessing – whenever it will come and refusing to move on or let go unless it does? Can I hear my new identity amidst the wrestling that wounds – the coming through death onto another shore – an entry to a promised land and restoration of all that was lost?
Here I come limping – let it be.