Burning bush moments

Burning-Bush-610x351“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

I wish I had a personal burning bush in my backyard – so whenever I needed encouragement, or a hint about what the future holds, or breakthrough in a situation, I could run out my back door, and receive up-to-the-minute revelation from God.

I think God DOES want to give us burning bush moments, and if we run out our back doors, expecting them, He will put them in our paths.

A couple weeks ago I was attending a conference and asked a speaker known for his gift of prophecy to sign his book for me… as I walked away, I looked inside the front cover, and there on the first page were the words he had written: “Joanne, if it matters to you, it matters to God!”

It was a burning bush moment: The words hit my heart like the hot breath of God. He was speaking directly to me from the pages of that book.

Two years ago, on the last day of a woman’s retreat, we watched a scene from “Titanic” – Rose the heroine is old and she has just tossed her blue diamond necklace into the sea. As the camera pans her room, you see the real treasures of her life – pictures that show her being adventurous, visionary, out-of-the-ordinary. She had passionately pursued her dreams, what mattered to her. She listened to her heart, turning away from the stultifying life she had grown up in.

As I watched that scene, I could feel my throat tighten in an effort to hold back a flood of tears and hide my pain from the women around me, but of course it didn’t work. The dam broke and they flowed out.

I saw myself lying in bed just like Rose – but I didn’t have wonderful pictures to look at, reflecting a life of dreams fulfilled, of pursuing what matters – my pictures were blank.

I realized how much I had lived in my woundedness. My counselor says your reality is the water you’ve been swimming in your whole life, and if you’ve always been in “blue” water, that’s how you see everything, hardly able to conceive that there could be different-colored water, a different-colored life.

As I watched the scene from the Titanic, I saw how Rose refused to accept the aristocratic, unfulfilling life she had been born into: She chose to swim in different-colored water. I realized that I had lost hope that God wanted to help me make my dreams a reality. I knew He loved me, but it felt like a giant chess game, with God occasionally moving a piece to create a new scenario in my life. In my head I knew God wanted more for me, that He wanted me to grab hold of His promises, but my heart had been swimming in woundedness for so long!

I prayed. I saw Jesus take my hand and start painting those blank pictures with MY dreams – I’m standing with Jesus, holding the book I have written; I’m in an exotic place with my three sons, happy and joyful; I am smiling at my husband and inviting him to take my hand.

That retreat became a turning point. I made the decision not to swim in my woundedness. God placed those desires on my heart, and as I delighted in Him and nourished my hope, I could trust that He would answer them. I could trust His father’s heart. I did it very imperfectly, and often out of a gut-level desire for something different, but looking back I can see how He has led me into new waters.

I quit focusing on fixing the people around me, and found a spiritual director. I worked on changing my thought patterns – when negative thoughts came in (often about past hurts or unfulfilled prayers) I put on music or opened scripture or started praising – anything to break the seductive call of those thoughts. I turned to a spiritual “band of brothers” who I would text or call or email for prayer. In my meditation time, I imagined myself as a little girl sitting on God the Father’s lap, wrapped in His arms as my head rested on His chest, listening to His heartbeat.

As a result of all of this, there has been a change in ME.  For so many years I’ve worked on healing my heart and getting rid of those things that blocked or hindered my relationship with the Lord. I understood the importance of forgiveness, I was persistent in prayer, I sought out healing, going to conferences, retreats and healing services. I read tons of books. And I benefitted from all of that.

But everything I have done in the last 2 years has infused me with a knowledge of how valued and loved I am, and this has made all the difference. From the Lord’s perspective, He wanted me to understand who I truly am – a much-loved child, a person who has gifts and talents that are meant to bless those closest to me as well as others. A person who is greatly loved, loved so much that He wants her to be more than a conqueror. I often was praying to change people or circumstances, a prayer coming out of my woundedness. Now my prayers come out of the knowledge of who I am with Him.

This new way of praying is bearing fruit. In the last few months, I am seeing those pictures I painted with Jesus become a reality – I am working on a book, I went out of the country for a vacation with my husband and three boys, and our marriage is getting healed, becoming a partnership.

The bottom line is that I’m beginning to KNOW God’s love for me, and that just like an earthly parent, He wants good things for me. He’s not the master chess player, He’s the Father who takes my hand and leads me to burning bush moments, who helps me swim in life-giving waters. The Father who gets down on the floor with me, looks in my eyes, and says, “Tell me what matters to you.”

Abba Father! I stand in the knowledge of who I am in You, a much-loved child and heir to everything Jesus had victory over.  I claim Your promises that when I pray, You listen, and that I will see Your goodness in the land of the living. I am an overcomer, more than a conqueror, and as I pursue You with all my heart, You bring me back from everything that has held me captive (Jeremiah 29:12-14). Continue to give me burning bush moments, enlighten the eyes of my heart, so that I see the hope you call me to, the glorious inheritance you have for me. Help me to swim in new, live-giving waters! In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.