It was three years ago today that my mom passed away. As I was reflecting back on that time, I thought of an event that happened shortly afterwards, that has been one of the most impactful of my life. What I am about to describe is deeply personal and may be rather controversial for some who read my blog. But I have no choice but to give glory to God for what He has done, so hang in there with me – this will be a long one, but I believe it will be worth it.
As I’ve mentioned previously, the six months preceding my mother’s death were the most tumultuous of my life (and those who know my whole life story, know that is a pretty large statement). I really don’t “go there” much, but when I remember just how much I went through, it is incredible. Literally every day was a different crisis in her health event. Just when we were over one hurdle, another would crop up. It just kept coming in wave after wave of unbelievable issues (the day she suddenly and inexplicably started having hallucinations was probably the worst). Some of you who walked with me through that time know many of the details, but truly no one but me can know the depth of it. Then, heaped on top of all that, my husband left in the middle of that time, thrusting me into dealing with all the issues of splitting apart a life that had been weaved together for over 20 years.
The last few days I spent with my mother when we finally learned she had cancer and was dying (just four days in the hospital) were actually a truly sweet and healing experience – we finished well. But as the dust of the crisis began to settle afterwards, I reflected on that whole time period and felt a grief in my heart that I had not handled it better. Oh everyone, including my mother, would have said I handled it beautifully. But I knew better. I knew that each day I was just barely hanging on, dealing with things as they came and just wanting it all to be over. I regretted that, although she was 86 years old and in unstable health, I didn’t fully embrace the possibility that these might be the last times I would spend with her. Of course, I was there every day, whether it be during one of several hospital stays or in a rehab facility (she spent very few days of her last six months at home), tending to her needs and dealing with the constant issues that were arising, but in hindsight I was not fully engaged on an emotional and spiritual level that I wish I had been. I would have loved to look back and seen myself walking in peace and faith during that time and making the most of those last six months together. But my prayers were just desperate “help me, Lord” prayers as I struggled to navigate the new traumas of each day – I wish I could say I “thrived,” but in truth I just barely “survived.” It was all I could do to hang on to God and endeavor to walk out each day of dealing with both of these circumstances, clinging to and trusting Him with their outcomes.
Fast forward just three months after all of this to April 2012 – a friend of mine invited me to go with her and a few other friends to the “Passion for Jesus” conference at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. I had been there several times, but it had been a while, and a visit there always resulted in a special encounter with God and refreshment for my soul. So I gladly said “yes” to the invitation. One of the things that happened on my first visit there in 2006 was that I received prophetic ministry. Now I grew up in a denomination that believed that the “supernatural” gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased when all the apostles died and the “written word” was completed. This is a common view. But during my college years and just after, some things happened that caused me to question this teaching. God knows I have always been a seeker of truth and have always asked Him to not let me ever be deceived, but only show me truth. So after finally thoroughly studying the scriptures on this issue (and not any man’s opinion of them), I came to the conclusion that there is nothing in the Bible that indicates this to be the case (if you gave someone a Bible who had never heard anything about God or Jesus and told them to read it cover to cover, they would come away with the conclusion that all those things still exist and we should still be expecting to see miracles today). Not only that, but I felt it was actually arrogant of us to think that because we now have “words on a page,” we no longer needed the gifts of the Holy Spirit! So, still in that same denomination and having not ever seen any of “said gifts,” I told the Lord I believed they still exist, even if I’d never personally witnessed them. That was in the mid 1990’s and it wasn’t until 2006 that I finally experienced my first of “said gifts.” As I attended my first “Passion for Jesus” conference at the invitation of some friends and with a large group from my new church, I was offered by the same friends to take their reservation time they had for receiving prophetic ministry. I didn’t even know that was available or what to expect and since the reservation was at the very moment they offered it to me, I had no time to think about it, but just went. I entered a room with several others and sat down with an empty chair next to me. Over the course of the next 20 minutes, 4-5 people I had never seen before in my life, sat down beside me and spoke things to me (and into a tape recorder) that changed my life! I had always heard the accusation that prophecy would be “generic” and could apply to anyone, but these things were so specific to me – it was as if these people had listened in on my heart struggles and inner conversations with God! I came away uplifted and encouraged in a way I had never known. The closest I could use to describe the feeling was what I’m sure Hagar felt when she first encountered God in the desert and named Him, “The God who sees me.” (For full story read Genesis 16.) It was amazing to actually experience just how personal a God He is! (Since then I have received many other prophetic ministries – all are recorded and I have played them many times and they continue to have significant impact on my life.)
So now, in 2012, I was anxious for a fresh “rhema” word from the Lord. This time things were done a bit differently. A large group was brought into the room and we were seated in groups of three in front of two “prophets.” When ministry time began, it was their discretion as to what order they went. The other two women I was seated with received long (and obviously, for them, deeply meaningful) prophecies prior to me. I was so happy for them, but as time went on (and there is a limit), I began to wonder if there would be any time left for anything meaningful for me. At that point I felt so fragile and “empty” and if I am honest about my inner feelings, I was desperately afraid of being overlooked and still leaving “empty.” But with just a few minutes left, the woman ministering turned to me and out of her mouth came the following words:
The Lord just showed me a picture – it’s as if someone was in the eye of the storm and I see you holding on to a pole and the wind is blowing fiercely and it’s as if all the strength inside of you is holding on. It’s like I see your body is up in the air and the storm is blowing so hard, but you are holding on and you’re afraid you are going to let go and you’re going to get caught up in the tornado or the hurricane – whatever it is, right? But I sense that the Lord is just saying, “You have weathered the storm well.” You have come out of that storm stronger than you even know or can imagine. It’s as if in the place where your faith was to hold on and not let that storm defeat you, I just sense the Lord saying a great impartation fell on you. And you have yet to see all the grace that the Lord has put on the inside of you. The storm was not in vain…I don’t even hear an apology from the Lord. I just hear, “Thank you for pressing in.” Because that storm was for YOU – and it strengthened you and it made you grow and even though it was hard on you as a person, there was so much that you gained out of it that in a time of maturity, you will see the fruit of all that happened and the strength that came out of that as you were holding on. And here is some good news – that muscle that you gained in that storm wasn’t just for you. There’s a boat load of people – I see a picture of Noah and it’s the strength of Noah trusting in God because he sees what other people around him don’t see. It is like what I think Joseph said to his brothers when he revealed his identity, “It was for such a time as this.”* And the word of the Lord is strong in you, it rests in you – the Lord is just saying, “Well done, daughter, you weathered the storm well.” You are going to see the fruit of your faith in the days to come. It wasn’t in vain that you held on and remained faithful in the presence of the Lord. He sees it, He recognizes it and it’s as if the embrace of the Father is all over you – enjoy this weekend! AMEN!
*At this point they were calling “time” and in her haste to finish her thought, she mixed what was said to Queen Esther with Joseph. Joseph said, “What was meant to me for evil, God meant for good.” But both of these statements were meaningful to me and my situation and the Lord knew I would know that. By the way, prior to her word, the first prophet read to me the verses from Luke 22:31-32 – “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
WOW!!! I left the room with tears streaming down my face! She described EXACTLY how I had felt during that time and let me know that not only did I not “fail” in how I handled my “sifting,” but all that I went through had purpose for strengthening me, helping others in the future and for what I already felt the Lord had been showing me about what was coming and what He was calling me to do. Once again, my heavenly Father spoke to the deep turmoil and pain tucked away in the recesses of my heart and in three minutes, “kissed my wounds and made them all better,” just as any good Father would. And once again, I came away overwhelmed at His goodness with a fresh revelation of my favorite Biblical (Hebrew) name for God – “El Roi” – “The God Who Sees.” Yes, my friends, He really is THAT good!