Rivers in Dry Land

Isaiah 43:18-20

18 “But forget all that—
    it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
19 For I am about to do something new.
    See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
    I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
20 The wild animals in the fields will thank me,
    the jackals and owls, too,
    for giving them water in the desert.
Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland
    so my chosen people can be refreshed.

We entered into the land God promised a little over a month ago. Naïvely, I expected to immediately declare “it is well with my soul!”  

I didn’t. 

Expectations are a finicky thing, aren’t they? They’re often prone to fail us when we create them in a mind that is still in the process of being renewed….

The Lord took me back to Isaiah 43 in the secret place this morning. It’s a familiar passage for me personally, and I’ve referenced it frequently in ministry to others. Today, I continued reading through Isaiah 44. You know how when the Holy Spirit BREATHES on His Word, you get that punch in the gut, that slap in the face, that AHA moment?! Yep. That happened. There it was, written in black and white, from ages past: the blessing of the Lord over me and my family. My mother received and prophesied this Word over me, literally on her death bed 4 months ago. She had an encounter with the Lord through a dream while my husband and I were shopping for houses in FL. (You can read about it here: https://deepintothewater.com/2021/04/19/go-on-to-glory/) I’m so grateful that God sent His message through her. It encouraged my soul, and it is a moment with my mom that I will cherish until my address changes to heaven too. 

As the revelation of Isaiah 44 hit my heart, clarity of Isaiah 43 came. My perspective immediately shifted. For so long, I was focused- fixated rather- on the dry wasteland I was living in. I was constantly frustrated in Egypt (believe me, I REPEATEDLY let God know allll about it!) 

I prayed for deliverance. Instead, He gave me dreams.

I prayed for rain. Instead, He gave me a plow.

I prayed for repentance and restoration in His body. Instead, He gave me the gift of prophesy to encourage His people.

I prayed for rivers. Instead, He gave me a well of living water. 

But the past is in the past, right? I’m no longer in Egypt. I’m IN the promised land, so I shouldbe shouting from the rooftops, “IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL,” right? Why look back? Just look forward, right? Wrong. By looking back, I see how the Lord delivered me from Pharaoh’s hand. I see that I am no longer in bondage to the empire he is building. I see that I am no longer a slave to the drudgery and demanding work he requires. I see that I have been set free from the oppression of Egypt. I see that I’ve walked THROUGH the wilderness. Yes! Amen!!! Praise and honor to the Lord for all that He has done. And all that He is still doing. Allow me to explain….

As I wrestled against dark principalities and powers in Egypt, real people spoke real words of false accusation against me. I was betrayed by those closest to me. I was rejected by my own people. As a result, the dry and weary land I inhabited began to invade my heart. My soul became a lonely, barren wasteland. Unaware of the cost of following the Spirit into the wilderness, I continued to pour my life out in intercession. I wept for those living under the oppression of Pharaoh. I preached the good news to them. I encouraged them to trust in the Lord. I pleaded with them to cry out to Him for deliverance. I wanted so desperately for them to taste and see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, as I had. I longed for them to encounter the Messiah at Jacob’s well as I had. Even to this very day, my heart breaksfor them. I wish I could relieve their suffering, but… I am not their Savior. I am merely a soldier in the Lord’s army. I follow commands, I don’t give them. I know this, but sometimes I fail to do this. Occasionally, in my effort to “help” people, I inadvertently start swinging the sword of the Spirit in my own strength; tearing down instead of building up. I continually need to be reminded that the battle is the Lords- not mine. I am simply His servant, His slave, His soldier. A soldier that needs time to rest, recover, and receive. 

How beautiful that He confirmed His Word through the elders and leaders of our new spiritual family (https://hotfm.org)shortly after we arrived. They knew by the Spirit that we were planted in infertile ground in the previous season, but that the Lord transplanted us into a rich land flowing with milk and honey, where we will flourish. They knew that we had suffered from the laborious work of plowing hard soil. But now, that assignment is over. It is finished. The sowing in complete. It’s a new season. It’s time to harvest, to heal, to build up, to laugh, to dance, to gather stones, to turn away, to quit searching, to throw away, to mend, to speak, to hate, and to have peace!

I fought the good fight of faith in Egypt (because God SENT ME to Egypt, just like He SENT ME to The Promised Land). But now, He’s doing something new. Do you see it? He’s creating rivers in my soul. Hallelujah!!!

Ecclesiastes 3

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace.

God promised.

Numbers 13:25-31

25 After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned 26 to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran. They reported to the whole community what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had taken from the land. 27 This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. 28 But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak! 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev, and the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country. The Canaanites live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea[a] and along the Jordan Valley.”

30 But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!”

31 But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!”

The Lord had delivered His children from slavery in Egypt.

He was with them as they wandered in the desert.

And He was bringing them into a new land…He promised.

After the 12 returned from their scouting adventure, they gave their report to Moses and the people. They all agreed on what they saw: milk, honey andgiants. But their responses were divided:

2 of the men were filled with faith.

10 were filled with fear.

The report of the majority infected the ENTIRE community. By believing what the 10 said, the children of Israel doubted what God had said. Subsequently, they were willing to go back to bondage or just die in the wilderness! Paralyzed by fear, they refused to fight the giants in order to claim the land God promised to them. Witnessing the massive pity party, Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes in deep grief, pleading with their brothers and sisters to NOT rebel against the Lord- and NOT be afraid of the people!!! 

We’re currently facing the same test of faith.

A roadblock I continue to encounter in the wilderness, between Egypt and the promised land, is the fear of man. Being non-creative and unclever, it’s a tactic the enemy has used over and over again since my childhood. He’s convinced people- family and friends- even fellow Israelites to speak things which cause me to doubt what God has said. Most of the time, it’s very subtle and difficult to understand in the natural. But He is always faithful! When I ask the Holy Spirit for supernatural help, He gives me eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to understand. Only then can I recognize the lies, be set free by the Truth, and extend forgiveness to those who didn’t know what they were saying.

God promised us a new land 7 years ago.

He sent us to scout it out.

We saw the milk and honey.

We saw the giants.

And…we heard reports from the 10:

Did God really say to move to Florida?”

Did God really sayto live in Lakeland?”

Did God really say to relocate to be a part of a CHURCH?”

Did God really say to leave your entire extended family?”

Did God really say to close the ministry & stop meeting (church @ home)?”

“Florida is so dang hot… they have LOTS of hurricanes- and alligators!”

“Lakeland is a terrible town….and it’s not near the beach.”

“There’s no perfect church…why not just stay here?”

“Family is everything….I can’t believe you’d abandon them.”

“You invested so much in your ministry…it’s a waste to give it up.”

Yep. There’s been a lot of chatter in the community.

But we’re going with the minority report.

We believe what God said.

So, it’s time to prepare for battle…. because we’re following Him into the land HE promised!

He Cuts

John 15:1-2

15 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.

Today is the official dissolution date of the ministry we planted exactly 10 years ago. There are several reasons why God required us to close, but at the moment, only one matters: “He cuts every branch that doesn’t produce fruit.” Yes, through the years, I believe much fruit grew through the work of the ministry. Individuals, couples, children and multiple generations of families encountered the Lord, and were transformed. Hallelujah! However, in recent months, the Spirit had been revealing through Scripture, prayer, dreams (mine and others) that I had wandered down a path He did not send me. I had rebelled against His leadership. As a result, I had abandoned my first love: Jesus.

The result? Fruitlessness in that area of my life.

I may have turned away from the Son of Man, but He never left me. He has been interceding at the right hand of the Father all along. He has been praying that my faith would not fail as the enemy was granted permission to sift me like wheat. And in His timing, I was able to hear the sound of the rooster crowing in my Spirit- bringing conviction of sin. Like Peter, at the realization of my denial, I wept bitterly.

Repentance is a painfully beautiful gift in our relationship with the Lord. It’s an acknowledgement of the death we’ve been living under, which releases deep sorrow.  It’s also a realization of the resurrection life that we have returned to, which brings great joy!

Repentance causes us to realize: He cuts us because He loves us.

A branch has been severed in me. Amen! It is gone. Gone but not forgotten. It is forgiven. Forgiven but not hidden. For it serves as a reminder of the blood that covers all my sin, cleansing me of all unrighteousness, connecting me to the vine which produces much fruit, bringing glory to the Father!

John 15:5-8

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

Uprooting

John 15:1-8 New Living Translation

15 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

Seven years ago, during an encounter with the Lord, I heard the Spirit saying He was uprooting our family- and sending us to a new land (Genesis 2:1-9). 

With prophesy, God requires His people to persevere through a process in order to receive His promise. This principle of scripture has proven yet again to be true in my life. I would like to say that I am always willingly to submit to the suffering that is required in enduring, but I’m still immature. My childlike nature often gets the best of me, and in my impetuousness, I try to run ahead of God’s timing. So, when I heard from the Lord in 2013, I immediately announced to my husband, “we’re moving! NOW!” He wasn’t convinced. Nor was he motivated to submit to my timeline (thank God!). 

The process continued. 

Did I mention it’s been seven years?! (Obviously, the fruit of patience still has opportunity to grow in me). Yet, as I’ve reflected on all that God has done in the waiting, now I SEE that He that began a good work in me will see it to completion (Philippians 1:6). God has been faithful. Even when fear tried to consume me. Even when I doubted. Even when I pouted. Even when I threw a fit in the prayer room. Even when I argued with my husband about who/what/when/where/why. Even when others thought I was crazy. 

God has been faithful to His word. 

In prayer.

In dreams. 

In prophesies. 

In circumstances. 

In meetings.

One particular meeting in 2015 proved to be a significant puzzle piece that brought clear vision to WHERE the Lord was sending us (He told us the state 7 years ago, but not the city). It was on a diverted flight from North Carolina to Florida. My man and I were traveling with another couple to attend our friends vow renewal ceremony. Our flight from RDU (Raleigh Durham International) was delayed….delayed… cancelled. After pursuing the ticket agent for more options (they originally rebooked us for the following day), my man secured another flight for us on another airline, compliments of his frequent flyer status. Without knowing it, he had walked right into the will of God! After making it to Atlanta, the 4 of us boarded our final flight to VPS (Destin-Fort Walton). I was seated beside our friends. My man willingly took the seat beside a stranger. Before buckling up, I glanced at the gentleman that would be my man’s travel companion for the duration of our flight. He smiled. I returned the smile, but my eyes were immediately drawn to the worn-out bible he was holding. (You know those sonic boom moments- when you know that something is getting ready to hit in the supernatural??? Yep. Spirit. BOOM!) That man struck up a conversation with my man. (I tried eavesdropping but we were seated at the back of the aircraft so I couldn’t hear over the roar of the engines!!!) Before departing company, he handed us a book. As we deplaned, I laughed out loud when I read the title, “I See a New Prophetic Generation.” 

The man was Jeremiah Johnson.

https://jeremiahjohnson.tv

We had no idea who he was. But God did. It was all part of His plan to transplant us.

After devouring that book, I ordered everything Jeremiah had in print. I read whatever I could find about the church, HOTFM (Heart of the Father Ministry) he helped plant in 2010. I attended a JJM prophetic conference in Charlotte, NC with one of my spiritual mommas (2017). My man and I became partners the following year (2018). We were invited to join a Partners Retreat in the mountains of NC the next year (2019), where we met several couples from HOTFM. Later that same year we met even more families when attending a service at Heart of the Father Ministry (on the way back to the car that day, our son unknowingly prophesied, “let’s move here!”). This year, during a repeat visit to HOTFM, one of those couples prayed and prophesied, “divine appointments” (the Lord spoke the exact same phrase through Jeremiah when he prayed over us the year before).

You can’t make this stuff up, people!!!

God continued to confirm what He said through multiple dreams I had, beginning in 2014 (too many to mention here). He also interrupted other people’s sleep to speak to us too! In 2018, another confirmation came through a woman in my small group, when she prophesied during a meeting. She saw in the Spirit that I was root bound. The Lord said I had experienced tremendous growth in the container I was currently planted in, but I was out of room. He was uprooting me. He was going to transplant me into a new container.

I am NOT a landscaper, but I have spent enough time learning from my expert husband to know that the transplanting process is risky, but necessary for growth. When a plant is removed from its original container, the roots need to be pruned or cut in order to prepare it for growth in the new container. Initially, the plant goes through a period of shock in which its ability to thrive is tested. Good soil, plenty of water and sunshine, along with strong roots is required for the plant to survive the uprooting.

Uprooting. It’s where I currently find myself. The Lord is cutting roots that are dead or sucking the life out of healthy ones that need MORE soil, MORE sunshine, MORE water to produce MORE fruit! The process of being prepared for MORE is painful. Obedience always is.

Preparing requires: 

Leaving our parents.

Leaving our extended family.

Leaving our spiritual family.

Leaving our friends.

Selling our home.

Selling our possessions.

Closing our ministry.

Closing our homeschool.

Uprooting. It’s a process the Lord is requiring for our entire family. In the midst of the global Covid-19 crisis, God said, “NOW is the time.”  My man and I agreed with Him. The kids agreed with Him (all of them). And so… I am excited to officially announce: the Bullard Pack is moving to Lakeland, FL! 

We appreciate your prayers as we continue to submit to the process of uprooting from North Carolina to Florida. 

We trust the farmer.  

We will persevere to obtain the promise.

We will prepare the soil of our hearts.

We will receive the seed.

We will die, so that He can live.

We will grow.

We will submit to His pruning and cutting.

We will produce good fruit.

So that HE may be GLORIFIED