the pool of bethesda

So I know I was going to write more about praying like Elijah, but as previously stated, things may change under the influence of the Holy Spirit, and so they have.  This morning as I was praying, I heard a silent whisper, an invisible voice…point me to a place, a pool, a gate, and a choice…

Yes, that rhymes, and yes, I wanted to keep going with it in true poetic form, but for now I’ll write about learning to hear God through prayer and how I knew it was His voice when I heard the silent whisper,

“the pools of bethesda.”

As Christians, Christ followers, people who have confessed Jesus as Lord of their lives and have been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit after hearing and believing the good news, have an incredible gift.  Simple, yet profound and often drowned out by the deceptive voices of the world disguised in busyness and worthy works…many of us have heart-breakingly forgotten,

we can actually hear God’s voice…

“My sheep hear my voice and they follow Me…” John 10:27.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:13.

I could go on with other supporting scriptures and will as long as these words keep showing up on this screen following that voice…

If you are a Christian, then you have heard God’s voice.  You heard it when you first came to Him, through a message, a friend stepping out of their box and fearlessly sharing Jesus with you, His unchanging, soul and spirit dividing, Holy Spirit inspired Word you read, a song, a dream, a silent nudge, a scripture brought to mind, a following your heart, if you will, in order to bless someone.  These are but a few ways God speaks to his beloved kids.  It is the One with whom we were sealed, the gift Jesus promised His followers at the last supper, the One who baptizes with water and fire, the One who empowers, equips, testifies to Jesus, and makes things weird and wonderful all at the same time.  He is the third person of the Trinity,

and He is Holy Spirit.

and so it goes…along a silent whisper in a time of expectant prayer, that the words, the pool of bethesda showed up.  Not only did they show up, but they escorted in with them tears…and a deep soulish cry,

teach me! show me your glory as much as this frame can bear! Come in power and glory more than I have seen! 

And a heart that is so full, yet yearns for more, to see and take God at His Word, fumbles through pages to find and be found,

at the pool of bethesda.

And somehow this is beautifully woven, tangled, frayed and stretched into praying like Elijah.  Elijah knew God’s voice.  Elijah prayed with fervency and expectancy.  Elijah experienced fire from heaven.  Elijah never limited God. But the man at the pool of bethesda had a vastly different perspective than Elijah.  Did he believe in God?  Just by reading the passage, it is clear he did.  He had seen with his own eyes an angel from heaven appear again and again healing many others who were able to get themselves into the pool.

Don’t miss that…

Who were able to get themselves into the pool…

You see, sometimes we just can’t get ourselves there… in Elijah’s state of faith…yet Jesus lovingly and powerfully shows up just when we think He has touched everyone else but us!

So this morning, as I met with my Lord in the stillness away from distractions and plans of the day, I simply asked,

Lord, speak, grant me the spirit of prophetic revelation, teach me…”

and the answer droned in silence, yet dripping with the fragrance of His anointing oils, stirred my heart like that of the pool of bethesda.

Maybe its because I am praying hard for many to be healed right now.  Maybe it’s because there was fresh insight to be discovered at this old passage I have read over many times and never really understood.

Yet both are being strengthened in a cord tightly woven…

Jesus does speak.

and when He speaks, be joyfully expectant that He is moving…stirring up forgotten stagnant pools, 

looking on impossible situations pillared by faith with those that won’t limit Him…

for His whisper prepares the tender soil that will bring forth an abundance of what He is about to do!

For those who pray like Elijah,

and those who long to dip but their toes in the pool of bethesda...

Oh Holy Spirit, come in power and reveal Jesus to us at the pool of bethesda as we read, believe, and wait expectantly.

Please read John 5:1-24.

Found, loved, held,

Trish

 

the juniper tree

Today I am in a place of supernatural peace while I wait silently on the Lord to answer me.  This supernatural peace is like no other feeling.  Though there are many things going on in my life that would, in the natural sense, be “worrisome,” I am virtually worry-free.  My mind and my body appear laden with some sort of a peace like barrier that is supernaturally keeping anxiety, fear, and worry out, while I stay bathed in a constant overflow of heaven’s sweet, honey-coated peace.  In other words, I couldn’t get worked up if I tried today.  What I want you all to know is that my life is not ‘”problem-free.”  If that were the case, my prayer list would not be as lengthy as it is.  But that is the beauty of having a prayer list…it is a list of things you essentially have no control over that you lay before the Lord and believe and trust that He will provide, remove, heal, take care of, send help and answer each and every single dot and tittle you have written down.  So here I am, with my list before the Lord and a peace that He has, in fact, answered each request.  All His promises are yes and amen and so I pray, believe, and continue on with the day stretched before me by His unseen providential hand, in a peace that cannot be described in human language.

Lately the Lord has been teaching me to pray like Elijah.  To have faith like Elijah.  To be righteous like Elijah.  Yes, Elijah the prophet who saw many miracles at that providential hand of God.  Yes, Elijah, the mighty man of God who raised a widow’s dead son back to life, saw her jar of oil and flour remain filled throughout a 3 year drought, called fire down from heaven to consume a soaked sacrifice on a sopping wet altar in a “match of the gods,” shut up the heavens, opened the heavens, was caught up in a heavenly chariot his assistant bore witness to as he was escorted from this earth on the winds of fiery messengers… yet doubted, grew weary,  complained, prayed fervently, was filled with sarcasm at times, ran for his life, listened for God’s whisper in a cave, was fed by ravens, was fed by angels when he was too exhausted to go another step having been chased by a wicked queen,

and collapsed, begging to die,

under a juniper tree.

Hmmm…why the juniper tree?  Is there significance to why God would have the juniper tree recorded a handful of times throughout scripture?

Yes.  You see, the juniper tree is a shorter, shrubbery type bush, rather than an actual tree…it grows in extreme conditions in the desert heat and frigid night-time temperatures.  It provides barely enough shade for desert dwellers, or on-the-run prophets to find relief from the blazing sun, yet it does provide relief.  It’s wood is known to provide the best coal that radiates the most intense heat, and the reason for this is…

because of the extreme conditions it is grown in…

It also, in full bloom, can be seen from afar as its fragrant blooms remind the observing eye of its Creator who brings forth beauty from the barren…fruit from the forsaken…

The Juniper tree is a picture of Isaiah’s furnace of affliction, Job’s gold after being tested, Elijah’s respite and refreshment for his next assignment.  For when the Juniper tree reaches maturity it then and only then has reached its goal where it can burn the brightest giving off more heat than any other wood.

So why did God tell me to pray like Elijah?  To have the faith of Elijah? Well, for one He first told this to James, the brother of Christ, to pass on to us:

“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.  Is anyone cheerful?  Let him sing praise.  Is anyone among you sick?  Let him call for the elders of the church, an let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the  name of the Lord.  And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.  And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.  Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The prayer of the righteous has great power as it is working.  Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.  Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit” James 5:13-18.

Elijah had a nature like ours.

like ours…

Elijah, Job and David all begged to die…

they all complained…

felt afraid…

two of the three ran for their lives…

wanted to throw in the towel…

give up.

And just in the nick of time…after collapsing under the weight of sheer exhaustion, dehydration, and despair of human spirit,

God provides the shade of a juniper tree, sends an angel to provide a jar of water, and a cake of bread,

baked on a hot desert stone, not once but twice…

to revive the heart of a prophet to believe once again….

That there is a cloud beginning to swell…

I encourage you to read 1st Kings 18:41-19:8.  I mean, PLEASE, read this passage, then turn to James 5 and read.  Ask the Holy Spirit to grant the eyes of your heart enlightenment and insight and to give you the faith of his beloved prophet.

then…

Pray your heart out…and check again, and again,

and again, and again….

until it POURS!

 

Next week I plan to elaborate more on James 5 so stay tuned!!

held in a coating of heaven’s honey-sweet peace, known intimately by Him,

trish

 

The last ditch prayer…

In my previous blog, I wrote about prayer essentially being an ongoing beautiful conversation with our ever-loving, ever-interested, ever-wooing, ever-listening Father who delights in hearing the multi-faceted expressions of our hearts.  That in many ways we can compare it to the beauty of art.  A dream being birthed in an artist’s heart that colorfully and wildly dances upon a canvas with its unique magnetic force drawing the observer into its womb of brokenness and beauty.  Or a poem being strung together over the deep caverns of a an introvert’s mind as she pieces together anguish and joy, tragedy and triumph, and weaves words in and out of melodious sonnets.

And so we pray…

the poetry of our hearts.

And since we are formed out of earth’s clay by sacred hands…

equipped with all of heaven’s power, yet gentle and intricate, tender and sheltering and breathed into by the very breath of God, the one who mapped out the constellations,

firestarter of the stars,

yet with longing created us in His own image to be in relationship with Him, we then respond as any child would, in total trust, when we pray.  Even when the prayer is

our last ditch prayer.

Today I want to share a story.  Not because I had planned to share this story with you, but through prayer and having learned to wait on and listen for the response of the Holy Spirit, the story today was not my idea, (in fact, this particular story never entered my mind while thinking about this series).  This is the way of the Holy Spirit;

Pray.  listen.  do.

Steven came to me through a mutual friend nearly 16 years ago.  I was cleaning a home for someone and our mutual friend came to visit me while I scrubbed and polished, vacuumed and dusted.  I wasn’t prepared for him to bring along Steven, but the funny thing is, we can feel totally unprepared, yet be unkowingly and powerfully equipped when we operate out of an ongoing vibrant relationship with Jesus.

When I first laid eyes on 19 year old Steven, I have to admit, I silently cried for help! My prayer went something like this,

HELP! What do you expect me to do with this kid?”  The answer went something like this…like it always does, “What do you EXPECT me to do?”  You see, if our expectations are fixed on God and not ourselves, well then…

we can EXPECT great things.  And so it was with Steven.  

Prayers of half-hearted expectancy began to literally be pulled by an unseen hand from the depths of my heart where helplessness and speechlessness marry and clumsily dance their way out until the choreographer takes the weight and leads home His perfect words…perfect will.

Steven weighed all of about 110 pounds wringing wet.  He was strung out, but not yet “hung out” to dry, if you know what I mean.  But God had purposefully led Steven to me for some of the wringing and the twisting, the wrestling and the waiting through acceptance, love and prayer.  In all honesty, Steven was one of the sorriest human beings I had ever laid eyes on, and far beyond my scope of helping professionaly.  But God wasn’t asking for professional help, He was simply asking for a willing heart.

A believing heart.  A childlike heart.  

I do not know until this day all of Steven’s history.  What I do know is that he was as broken as anyone could be.  Addiction had ravaged his heart, mind and body.  He was desperate for more.  More drugs. More love. A family. A home.  His eyes screamed it, through a facade of humor.  And oh, was Steven funny.  Instantly likeable…even loveable.  He was wildly colorful and there was NO escaping the absolute set-in-stone in heaven, fact that this was a divine appointment.  I invited him into my home, though advised not to because he may steal medications or go through my cabinets.  Oddly, I didn’t seem to care whether he did or not.

All I had to offer was my friendship, prayer, and my beloved bible.

We became fast friends and I invited Steven to church.  Steven willingly came a handful of times before he disappeared, but one Sunday still replays in my mind as one of the most beautiful memories I will ever relive.  It was during worship where I looked down my row at Steven a few seats down sobbing his eyes out. Moved under the weight and love of the Holy Spirit, calling to him, pressing on him, breaking through years of brick after brick built up in a wall around his tender boy-like heart, Steven broke and years of welled-up pain freely spilled off of his face.  This was not the day things changed for Steven, nor would things change for the better in the days ahead, but I gave him my worn and scribbled throughout Bible one of the last times I saw him during that season of friendship and grace.

And then he was gone…

It had been months since I heard from him, or our mutual friend until one night I received a phone call from that mutual friend.  “Steven is in big trouble. Please pray.  Is there anything you can do? He is messed up with dangerous people and he needs help.”  I prayed and suggested Teen Challenge.  It was late at night and I spent much of the evening emailing the program manager and asking for scholarships.  Of course Steven had to be willing and there was no guarantee scholarships would be approved.  I had no money, Steven had no money.  What were we to do?  Discouraged and exhausted, I ended my night with this prayer, “Lord, if you want Steven in Teen Challenge, you will get him to Teen Challenge.”  That was it.  It would be another year before I heard anything about Steven.

On a particularly beautiful sunny day, our mutual friend showed up on my doorstep.  He came with news.  GOOD NEWS.  As we sat out on my back patio enjoying conversation and the heat of the middle of the day, he began to tell me that things had hit rock bottom for Steven, he had been arrested, he had faced his sentencing with two options: Jail or Teen Challenge.  Steven chose Teen Challenge.  That was 15 years ago.  In the last 15 years, Steven has gotten married, has a beautiful family with 2 children, has been a youth pastor….

AND…..

is now counseling youth at Teen Challenge.

Remember, how I told you the Holy Spirit changed my direction for writing this morning?  Well, I prayed, as I always do, for heavenly inspiration, meaning I don’t want to write out of my will, but His will.  I wait and see where He would lead me in Scripture, what He would say to me through prayer, or how He would show up in some sort of confirmation on how I am to proceed in writing.  Well this morning as I was in intimate fellowship with Him, as I am each morning, I heard the familiar ding of a facebook message.  It was Steven, sharing the good news of his counseling position and thanking me for praying for him 15 years ago…

If you think any of your prayers are “last ditch”….think again,

God may be digging wells of everlasting glory….

Stay tuned for next week:  Elijah and the Prayer of Faith. Disclosure: Unless otherwise directed under holy influence.

Amazed, held and intimately known,

Trish