Luke 10:16-20 New Living Translation (NLT)
16 Then he said to the disciples, “Anyone who accepts your message is also accepting me. And anyone who rejects you is rejecting me. And anyone who rejects me is rejecting God, who sent me.”
17 When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!”
18 “Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning! 19 Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. 20 But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”
I repented for my sin and believed in Jesus, according to Scripture in 1999. I was baptized in His Spirit, according to Scripture in 2005. A few years later, another promise, according to Scripture, manifested when I began receiving visions and dreams -and prophesying what I saw and heard to others.
Acts 2:17 New International Version (NIV)
17 “‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
I was such a baby at the time. I had NO idea how to digest the Word of the Lord in my heart before feeding it to others. How I needed spiritual mothers and fathers to train me in the way I should go!!! Instead, I foolishly delivered many of those messages in haste, and as a result, I was threatened, scowled at, and ignored by many in the Church. Still, the Lord was faithful to lead me, feed me and care for me in the wilderness, as I licked the wounds of rejection and betrayal from those that were supposed to love me. In the desert, I had to realize: God did give me good gifts to use for His glory and to encourage others. I did hear from heaven and speak what I heard. But first, I needed to open my mouth and eat what He gave me (Ezekiel 2:6-8).
After the wilderness experience, a few people began accepting my messages as I prayed with them. Demons obeyed me too! Men, women and children encountered Jesus and were healed, delivered and set free from bondage right here in my living room! I rejoiced in my “successful” ministry. And I told others about my success; in person and on social media. “Look at me. Look at me. Look at ME! I’m in ministry. I’m gifted. Yay me!!!”
Then the Spirit led me into the wilderness…again. There I stood, naked before Him, with nothing to hide behind. In the dryness of the desert, “my ministry” dried up. In His mercy, the Lord began shining His light on the pride hidden in my soul. Grieved over my arrogance, I repented & retreated to the shelter of His wings (Psalm 91). There He began exposing the fear of man. Fear of man has many different arrows that pierce the heart, mine were designed to penetrate a longing for acceptance, approval and affirmation through what I do. So, when I performed “successful” ministry, and people accepted my message and approved of me and affirmed me, I felt loved. When they did not, I felt unloved, rejected and abandoned. All the attributes of an orphan of the world, not a child of the Creator.
In His shadow, I child finds rest. In His refuge, a child is safe from the trap of successful ministry. In His shelter, no evil will conquer a child. In His love, a child will be rescued. In His protection, a child will be rewarded. (Psalm 91)
I’m still a child, still learning to hide in the shelter of His wings. Are you? In deep humility, I plead with you: do not fall into the trap of believing the lie that “successful” ministry will gain you entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus’s warning, according to Scripture is clear. Do you know Him? Does He know YOU?
Matthew 7:21-23 New International Version (NIV)
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons.12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.
17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you,19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’
20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.[a]’
22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’
28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’
31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”
Since 2011 I’ve been at home, working in my Father’s field while my man worked away from home. Let me clarify a few things from the get go: my man is a son, adopted into our Father’s family since he was a teenager. But during the last 8 years as he traveled for his job, his heart became lost. He didn’t waste his money on wild living. He faithfully supported his family. He didn’t squander his inheritance on prostitutes. He remained faithful to his wife. But, as a self-confessed prodigal, he admits that he left his Father to pursue a life on his own.
During that time, I tilled the ground at home: managing the estate, training the kids, homeschooling, and doing the work of the ministry. I slaved away….and I was continually angry. I was angry that I was doing IT ALL alone. I was angry that my frequent flyer platinum preferred man left at the beginning of each week. I was angry that my frequent flyer platinum preferred man came home for weekend layovers. I prayed for him to come home permanently. I begged. I pleaded. I yelled. I threatened. All to no avail. He couldn’t see that he was starving in the farmers field. He couldn’t hear that I was starving for his love and his leadership. As days turned into months that turned into years, I eventually began relenting to corrections from those in the body of Christ who love me, “Jodie, LET. IT. GO. You can’t fix it.” I finally gave notice to the “Mrs. fix it” job when I surrendered to the Spirit at my annual spiritual heart exam this spring. Through the ministry of a pastor (gift, not title) in NC, the Spirit revealed that my heart was done (literally DONE; it had been boiling in a pressure cooker!). I agreed with the Spirt and declared “I’m done.” Two weeks later during a worship service in FL, the Spirit showed me the done heart again… along with a jello heart. He commanded: “choose one.” I chose jello, and He crushed the done heart into ash.
I won’t speculate that my obedience to the Spirit helped cause a radical shift in our circumstances the following months, but I don’t believe in coincidence. God uses ALL things for our good, according to His purposes, not our own. (Romans 8:28)
Around the same season, my man came to his senses in the pig trough. He began seeing the Holy Spirit burn his hardened heart from the inside out. He started to feel again: longing for relationship with the Father, with his wife, and his children. He confessed. He repented. And a short time later, someone from his companies HR department asked him to apply for a newly created position. He applied. He interviewed. He was flown to headquarters. He was given the job. He accepted. And the location where this newly created global position would be based from? AT HOME!
Oh, how the Father rejoiced when He saw his son come home! As my man received his robe and ring and sandals and gathered with family in celebration, I stood outside the party pouting. Me, the prodigals sister in the Lord. Me, the one who prayed for the prodigal to come to his senses. Me, the Father’s daughter who stayed at home.
Me. Me. Me!
As steaming hot lava began flowing out of a volcano of emotions, I realized my sense of justice was unbalanced. From my perspective, I deserved to be praised and celebrated for staying at home the entire time! After all, I was the one who had been doing what the Father said. And now, because my brother had finally come to his senses and come back home where he belonged, the entire family was rejoicing like it was 1999…uh, I mean, 2019!!!
Yep. There it was, hidden in my Pharisaical heart: spiritual pride. Only the revelatory conviction of the Holy Spirit could give me eyes to see and ears to hear. Only deep grief through the gift of repentance could remove it. And now, this sister is rejoiceing in the celebration of her brothers homecoming, knowing that:
WE are His beloved children.
WE have been given an inheritance.
WE have the freedom to choose life or death.
WE have been lost.
WE have been found.
WE have received a robe and a ring and sandals.
WE will celebrate together, at the wedding feast with the Father and the Spirit as the Son is joined with His pure and spotless bride (Revelation 19). What a celebration that will be for the family of God, for all eternity!!!
Matthew 4:1 New Living Translation (NLT)
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.
In the spring of 2018, the Lord showed me the wilderness I was beginning to endure, alone. I would be led by the Spirit to an empty, man-made, concrete river bed. I would be tempted. I would suffer. I would scream. I would cry. And Jesus would be with me.
In the following weeks and months that led into a new year, I engaged in conversations with the Lord in that dry place. He stood with me as I grieved. He comforted me as I sobbed. He listened as I screamed. He heard me as I processed my anger. He cared for me. He fed me. He gave me living water to drink from His hands. He showed me the free-flowing river I was destined to enter. He showed me the way out of the dry river bed. He showed me the angels that would protect me from my enemies as they hurled accusations against me. He showed me the fear of man that so easily entangles me. He showed me the lies I’ve believed. He showed me how to repent and be forgiven, and forgive. He showed me how to trust in Him alone.
I must admit; there has been much protest from me in the wilderness.
But I’ve stayed in this place with Him. And I will remain here until He leads me out.
For I have come to know the One who will never leave me or forsake me. The One who calls me His own. The One who created me in my mothers womb. The One who called me by name before the foundations of the earth. The One who loved me unto death. The One who conquered the grave. The One who sits at the right hand of our Father. The One who intercedes for me. The One who knows the plans for me. The One who uses all things for my good. The One who receives all the glory for my life.
And because I know Him, I know that He is doing something new in me. Actually, its already begun. Do you see it? He has made a pathway through the wilderness. He has made a river in the dry wasteland. I WILL be refreshed! And He will be honored.
Isaiah 43:14-21 New Living Translation (NLT)
14 This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“For your sakes I will send an army against Babylon,
forcing the Babylonians[a] to flee in those ships they are so proud of.
15 I am the Lord, your Holy One,
Israel’s Creator and King.
16 I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters,
making a dry path through the sea.
17 I called forth the mighty army of Egypt
with all its chariots and horses.
I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned,
their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick.
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.
21 I have made Israel for myself,
and they will someday honor me before the whole world.