When Forgiveness Unleashes the River of Creativity
About four years ago, I attended a prophetic training day at a large Anglican Charismatic Church in Oxford. I was taken aback when Rachel, the self-described “prophetess” leading it, asked us to give the person next to us “a word from God.”
I do hear from God, all the time, in images and directives, but they coalesce slowly. It seemed presumptuous to require that God give me a word on-demand for the woman next to me, so I did not ask, did not receive, and did not share.
* * *
However, the pretty, heavily made-up young woman (not your garden variety Old Testament prophet) seated next to me shared a prophetic vision she had received for me.
She said, “I saw you in a river, and you were swimming deep in it.”
I got tearful, and here’s why.
While driving on a spectacular road to Milford Sound, South Island, New Zealand the previous month, I had stood spellbound in front of a waterfall. It’s like God, I thought, his power, his love, his freedom, and his energy.
And I saw rocks in the waterfall, and behind the rocks, sticks, leaves, little worms, stuck there, while the water rushed on.
Never let that be me, Lord, I thought, stuck somewhere, rotting, while your river of love and power and energy, and miracles rushes elsewhere.
Are there any barriers to the free flow of your love and power in me? Show them to me!
And God did.
* * *
I was going though “a great sadness” because of how I was treated in a toxic, abusive Anglican Charismatic church—lied about, slandered by a couple of women who wanted to run a ministry I was then running–and got to do so!! The rector’s wife, threatened by anyone she perceived as really gifted, lost no time in crushing giftedness in others. I should have been flattered that she perceived me as gifted and competition; instead I felt crushed by her abusive words and actions.
Had I forgiven? Gosh, not then!
I wanted justice. Oh, how I wanted it!
And I froze. My spirit froze. My creativity froze. I was cold and hard and frozen as I waited for God to avenge me. This state of affairs had lasted for 20 months.
- * *
And so I stood in front of that waterfall in New Zealand, and saw, as in a vision, my enemies moving on their lives, life moving on, while I remained stuck in a great sadness, waiting for God to execute vengeance, frozen, unable to settle down to writing.
And so I forgave them all, those rascals. (At least, I began the process, which is almost complete five and a half years after those events!)
But God saw my desire to forgive, and no sooner did I make the herculean attempt to do so, than the writers’ block which had plagued me vanished. Words began to flow. Easily. Writers’ blocks, like depression, can be caused by unexamined grief and rage.
I began to blog, which changed my life.
And how did the pretty young girl know that what I was writing on that very week was on the river of God? She said, “I was thinking of Ezekiel 47.”
I read it. Wherever water from the sanctuary flows, it turned the salty and brackish water sweet. Fruit trees grew on both banks of that river, bearing fruit every month because the water from the sanctuary flowed to them. And that river provided all kinds of fish.
Creativity, life, blessing, abundance from the river of God, flowing from the sanctuary.
And another young lady sitting next to me said, “I see a river, and a log floating in it. I don’t know if it’s a dead log, or…”
I asked God to remove that log (what else can I do about the secret mysterious recesses of my heart, which I don’t full understand, but pray?) and make of it a chair to sit on, a table to write on, a fire to warm me as I write words which will bless many. for many years.
A waterfall, crashing from the heights,
dazzling energy, like the Spirit
of God. I am but toe-deep
in your lovely waters, Lord,
mostly dry, for most of the day,
but I want to wade, ever deeper
into your rivers of delight.
I want to live there, your waters,
cascading around me,
scouring out the ash in me,
irrigating my barren soul,
recalling me to life.
I want your waters,
to make the air iridescent around me,
bright, holy and full of joy.
* * *
I want to live in your waterfall, Lord.
I want your living waters to spring within me.
I want to dive through your torrents,
letting nothing hold me back.
Not sin, not sin.
Not unforgiveness, not bitterness.
I will let go of anger, once, twice,
and again, so I may not be a leaf,
rotting blocked by the rocks,
but a rainbow fish flashing free.
I will let go of my sadness. Let go
Of grief. For what men mean for evil,
you can turn to good.
So shall I swim in your great river, oh Lord,
And your great river shall swim within me.
“I will give you my joy, and no one will take it from you”
Jesus’s lovely promise in John.
It is totally spectacular. On a grey, gloomy day as it is today in Oxford, England, we can remember that Jesus gives us his joy, and that nothing and no one–no circumstances can take it from us.
By learning to forgive too, we can avail ourselves of some of this joy. People who disappoint us can no longer rob us our our joy as we learn to forgive them!