* * *
But yet, there is a time for learn, and a time to be inspired.
When we lived in Williamsburg, Virginia, I worked before a large picture window facing our backyard. Giant iridescent dragonflies flitted around our pond. Monarch butterflies fluttered in their mating dance. Ruby-throated hummingbirds came to our feeders. There were brilliant cardinals and cheeky blue jays.
And I, nose in book, was often oblivious to this world humming with life and colour. Until I looked up.
* * *
So too, spiritually, I can plod. Not in distress, but not on the heights. Not unhappy, but not filled to overflowing with the joy of the Lord either.
But there is so much more. And when you listen to speakers who have scaled higher altitudes of joy or peace or hearing God’s voice, or experiencing miracles, you feel, “Okay, girl, there’s immensity around you. Keep climbing.” And this great cloud of witnesses spurs you on.
* * *
I am chasing the wild goose of the Holy Spirit, and the best thing about this chase is: I am guaranteed to succeed. On the most sacred promise. If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:13.
“Everyone can play,” as John Wimber famously said. And everyone who asks for the Spirit receives. It’s a democracy. Like the great democratic marriage feast of the Lamb.
How much of the Holy Spirit will I receive? As much as I am willing to make room by daily repentance. By making time and clearing room. By inviting him to come.
Will everyone who asks receive the same amount? Nope. But that’s more or less okay with me, because I know the King, and I trust him, and know he’s fond of me.
And he will give me as much of the Spirit as I can stand at any given time and as I make room for by repentance, surrender and decluttering my heart and life to make room for him.
* * *
Healthwise, I’d had an awful week or so. A cough. Feeling feverish. Sleeping badly. Exhausted during the day.
So when I saw Isabel Allum was speaking in London, I thought, “Why not go?” I am low-spirited because I am feeling so grotty, and it will be refreshing.
And so I went.
And it was interesting enough.
* * *
A critique of the Toronto Blessing, and the Charismatic Movement is its similarity to magic. I recently chatted to a lovely new committed Christian about how she renounced the occult, including an addiction to fortune-tellers and clairvoyants, which was escalating financial problems, since she was contacting them several times a day, sometimes. Why? I asked. “The hope that something good might happen. The need to know,” she said.
And so, Isabel Allum packed out a hall, because she has a reputation as a prophetess. And what did people hope to hear? Predictions of destiny, greatness, “favour,” “plunder,” becoming famous, receiving the nations as an inheritance?
And I? As I said, I wanted to relax in the presence of God, soak in the things of God. And yes, I wasn’t averse to a prophecy. A confirmation of destiny, though I do have a good idea of what God is planning to do, and is doing in my life. He spoke to me when I was 21, on the day he unleashed my writing gift, out of the blue, and confirmed it last summer. So, I am a bit embarrassed that I wanted a prophetic word, such as was given to me for my daughter Zoe by Patricia Bootsma, but, hey, I did.
By the grace of God, however, I have had very clear direction for the rest of my life, of the path I should take, and now–all I need to do is take it, which is not the easiest thing. Steady step by step, and Paradise Lost gets written, and you reach your Promised Land. A thousand prophecies or none, it would still take obedience. It would still take work. It would still take sacrifice.
* * *
A lot of things Isabel was talking about were I guess “magical.” Stories of lost satnavs, medicines, diamond earrings, tools, appearing. She was like a jazz artist, one riff generating another.
It struck me that we each have faith for different things. For instance, I have faith in God’s financial provision. I pray with faith, and over the years, have experienced many miracles in this realm.
Bill Johnson has faith in God’s “creative miracles”—growing new limbs and new organs. And so he sees that happen. And Isabel magically retrieves lost objects.
I love the rich concept of the Kingdom, a mansion with many rooms. And it means different things to different people. Heidi and Rolland Baker’s concept of the Kingdom is probably closest to Jesus’s—the blind see, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the good news is preached everywhere.
But there are other aspects of the Kingdom. It is joy. It is peace. It is serenity. It is, as Ann Voskamp paraphrases Paul, being, “worried-full for nothing, thank-full for everything, prayer-full in all things.”
* * *
Isabel talked about a young girl working with her, who went to work in an organic greenhouse, and prayed in tongues all day. And the business boomed, and the plants throve, and the profits rose. The simple act of prayer brought the Kingdom into the greenhouse. I have heard the same stories come out out of Ffald-y-Brenin, once they started praying blessing on neighbouring farms and businesses.
And that too is the Kingdom. Praying through your day. Seeing God’s hand in little things (Isabel gives examples of parking spaces, and things being marked down in the grocery store just before you get to that aisle. Seeing it as God’s provision fills our life with joy.) Being thankful. Praying big prayers.
* * *
The medium is often the message. Isabel, a Costa Rican, whose Hispanic accent I often had trouble following, spoke childlikely with a continuous smile. The joy seemed real.
Ah, what prevents me living like that, praying through my day, thanking God for his goodness to me, both evident goodness and goodness I accept by faith? Rejoicing always, praying constantly, in everything giving things. Nothing stops me from trying to live like that! And so I will.
And for that inspiration, I am happy I looked up from my books, and saw a bright ruby-throated hummingbird flutter through an English May; iridescent dragonflies sweep, and monarch butterflies on their prophetic migration.