A dear friend of mine gave me the link to this podcast to use in a youth setting. I would like to share it with you. I know it won’t be relevant for everybody – but if it helps you I am pleased 🙂
The Israelite nation in Marah are now away from the land of slavery making bricks day in day out; they have space and time to let emotions loose and face their trauma and loss. God has taken us out into the Wilderness to teach us and give us space to change. Pain isn’t something to push down and ignore – it needs addressing.
Gerald Sittser the Author of – A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss describes how he lost his mother, his wife and 4 year old child in a car accident where he was driving. The drunk perpetrator was never convicted because the it could not be proven beyond any shadow of a doubt at the trail that he and not his pregnant wife was driving. He write in his book “However painful, sorrow is good for the soul…The soul is elastic like a balloon. It can grow larger through suffering.”
God does not give us suffering or pain – but He can use what life throws at us to bring our heart increase. Lamenting can enlarge our soul. Many of the Psalms are laments of sorrow and are full of grief.
Ecclesiastes says there is a time to mourn. God can take our tears, take our pain and make us more. He can enlarge our souls through grieving well. Mourning can teach us compassion and empathy. We know that unless we mourn we cannot be comforted and in fact those that do mourn God will comfort Matthew 5:4.
Some may need to do the same as Nehemiah (1:4) – he sat down, wept, mourned, fasted and prayed. Some may need to read Psalms to express what they feel (try Psalm 43) other will need to just draw near to God and give him their pain. He has taken all our pain on himself on the cross. He has paid for it already so we can give him what it his. He doesn’t fear our pain, he won’t complain but just take it gladly from us.
How do you Grieve well?
Taken from Grieving and Healing: 5 Steps to Help You Through the Grieving Process. From Sharon O’Brien http://seniorliving.about.com/
1. Learn to accept that your loss is real.
For many people who are grieving a loss, the first impulse is to deny the loss. Grieving denial can range from downplaying the loss, as if it’s not important, to having the delusion that nothing/no-one has been lost.
2. Make it OK to feel the pain.
The pain of grieving can be both emotional and physical, and unfortunately there’s no way to avoid it. Denying the pain of grieving can lead to physical symptoms and can also prolong the grieving process.
Some people try to avoid grieving pain by being busy or traveling; others try to minimize grieving their loss by idealizing the loss/loved one or refusing to allow negative thoughts about the loss/loved one enter their minds. Some grieving people use drugs or alcohol to deaden the pain.
3. Adjust to living without the loss.
When we lose someone/something we also lose the part of our lifestyle that included our loss. Part of our grieving is for the parts of our life that will never be the same.
4. Let go allow yourself to move on.
This task can be especially hard as it can feel at first that you’re being disloyal/lost when you start to think about enjoying a life that doesn’t include the deceased/the thing you have lost.
Learning to cherish a memory or dream without letting it control you is a very important step in the grieving process.
Today: Release your pain of loss and give it to the one who has paid for it already. Draw close to your Father and let him comfort you in your grief. He can and will heal your heart.
I don’t want us to brush past this important part of the journey. We need to take some active steps to deal with unforgiveness before we move on. This is not a one off act but we will need to deal with it again when it crops up in the future. We are always learning how to forgive others.
Forgiving someone has to be act of the will. Quite often the person you must forgive may already be dead. These people are often the most difficult to forgive, but are the most important. There may be people from situations in your life which you may feel are impossible to forgive, or ones that you simply refuse to forgive, or even ones that you say you just cannot forgive since they have caused you such deep pain. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring you to a place where you are enabled to make the choice to forgive. He will reveal to you all the people and situations which make forgiveness necessary.
Today : Sit down and take your time doing this exercise. With each of the names written down in your travel log pray through this prayer. It might help to visual the person in the room sat in front of you as you pray.
“ —(insert the name)—- I forgive you for all you have done to me. I release you to the grace of God. I break agreement with bitterness dwelling in me. I now breathe in your love and forgiveness God”
After you have let go sit down and refresh yourself in God’s presence. Perhaps listen to some music, or just wait quietly.
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15
Forgiveness is a choice and vital to our relationship with God. Unforgiveness determines intimacy with our Father and feeds rejection. Harbouring any unforgiveness or unconfessed sins will definitely hinder our spiritual growth and communication with God.
Unforgiveness can be detrimental to our physical and spiritual wellbeing. It can manifest itself as depression, anger, hatred, resentment and bitterness etc. It can cause physical ailments, all of which rob us of peace and joy.
We need to invite the Holy Spirit to remove weeds form the garden of our hearts. We can ask him to search our hearts as David did in Psalms 139 and He will look for any hurt, wounds or pain that the enemy would seek to exploit through unforgiveness. We must not do our own digging. It is important to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal:
1. Any unconfessed sin
2. Any unforgiveness of others
3. Any unforgiveness of self
4. Any ungoldly beliefs (lies you have believed)
It is helpful to make a list of all the people and situations that have ever caused you
Hurt, Pain, Fear, Resentment, Jealously, Shame, Rejection, Loneliness, Anger, Guilt, Dishonour
Don’t forget to put you own name and God’s name at the top of the list. This is very important!
Unforgiveness is a doorway for Satan to come in , gain a foothold and take control in certain areas of your life, and even the lives of family members. Forgiveness closes the doorways to the enemy which is vital before the house or temple can be cleansed and filled with the Holy Spirit.
Today: Spend some time with God and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any body in your life who needs forgiving. This includes forgiving God or yourself. We will look at what to pray in more detail tommorrow
For few days we will be looking at the power of forgiveness – the answer to bitterness
I start with a personal revelation whilst watching World Without End by Ken Follet. In the last episode there is a scene where the wicked Petranilla (who had killed many for the sake of ambition) was in a room with the heroine, Caris. Petranilla had killed Caris’ mother, father, best friend and tried to burn Caris at the stake. When Petranilla realises all her evil plans had turned against her she takes some poison to kill herself and Caris has her chance for revenge. I found myself seething with anger at this venomous character and wanted Caris to make her move. Caris, however, turns to her enemy looks her in the eye and says “I forgive you” and then starts praying for her. I was moved to tears and thought “so this is what it looks like to be truly powerful”.
Here are some key thoughts on how to be powerful in forgiveness.
• God recognises that we have been treated badly
‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.’ Genesis 50:17
• He sees our tears
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8
• Forgiveness always costs
They are to bring to the priest as a guilt offering a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value. In this way the priest will make atonement for them for the wrong they have committed unintentionally, and they will be forgiven. Leviticus 5:18
• We are not to forget the sacrifice God made for us to be forgiven
“who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion”, Psalm 103:2-4
“I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” Hebrews 8:12
• God forgives as we forgive
But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:15
• Forgiveness is as powerful as a healing
Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? Mark 2:9
• God wants us to forgive others much as we have been forgiven much
Read the parable of the unforgiving servant – Matthew 18:21
Today: think about the the attitude of heart that Jesus encourages where one person freely forgives another (Matthew 18:22). This is what a powerful person looks like in action.
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero
It lacks Holy Spirit flowing and is a little too much into monastic practice but it is revelatory as far as healthy emotions and being emotionally mature is concerned.
The pre-requisite to the fullness of the adventure, for the Israelites, was a visit to the oasis of Marah (Exodus 15:22ff)
The Israelites had suffered emotionally and physically after a life of slavery in Egypt. The atrocities they had experienced , the injustices they had seen the oppression they had carried would have taken its toll on all the people. The Egyptians were without mercy, ruthless, oppressive and systematically butchered the Israelite children (Exodus 1:13- 14) It says in verse 14 that the Egyptians made their life bitter, this was a culture where bitterness was rife.
Now at the beginning of a new journey God wants to give his people a fresh start. He wants to take away all the bitterness and heal their hearts (I am the Lord who heals you Exodus 15:26)
Bitterness comes in our lives when we have had unwanted experiences – failures, disappointments, setbacks or loss – that are perceived to be beyond our control. Bitterness occurs when one believes, rightly or wrongly, that other people could have prevented the undesired outcome. Regret involves blaming oneself. Bitterness, much like other negative emotions, could bring on illness.
Why do we want to hold onto bitterness? It is because the letting go of something that has affronted and hurt us down to our very core is hard. What we don’t always realise is that our core, whilst hosting bitterness, becomes full of spiritually rotting, putrid slime. This seeps into our thought world, sleep time and daily living. We find that if someone presses a sore place in our heart we explode into anger spewing this rancid acid out damaging those around. For some of us we implode swallowing this gunk back down to our stomachs making us feel sick and a burning pain within.
In the passage in Exodus 15 we find that the way to heal bitterness was to through a piece of wood in the water that God had chosen. This is a picture of the healing the cross brings to our lives. We are healed because he gave his live for ours.
Today: Let us look how entering freedom means we leave the past behind. Think of situations where you may still feel bitter about the past. Tomorrow we will start to look on Monday at the process of healing bitterness.
Walking the dog yesterday morning I felt all the things going around my head that I wanted
to do before the kids go back to school. I was wondering how much I could fit in. The pressure was mounting as I thought of all the things I felt I was behind in and needed doing. God spoke to me and said – “Why are you putting pressure on yourself?”
I considered all my responsibilities to my employers, my natural family, my spiritual family, my pets ( 🙂 ) and myself. My thoughts then drifted into my heart where I felt a physical pressure pushing down inside and wondered if the pain was coming from me.
Even through hard times I think I am the person who expects the most from me. I can be the one that is hard to please, I can be the one that pushes myself to the limit, I can be the one who wants it done just right. Even in what other people say, expect of me, ask things of me – I am the one that chooses to listen to them and then applies the pressure internally.
In Exodus 5 we find that because the Israelites were trying to find freedom to go and worship their God Pharaoh put the pressure on big time!
6 That same day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and overseers in charge of the people: 7 “You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. 8 But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and worship our God.’
When we set our heart on pilgrimage there is one who doesn’t want us to worship God. Our enemy will do all he can to put the pressure on to distract us from our hearts desire and the hope of things being any other way. We need to see this for what it is and refused to carry Satan’s heavy loads. Jesus said his load is easy and his burden is light (Matthew 11;30). We only have hands to carry one load. Does your load feel light or heavy? Whose load are you carrying?
The last thing that one should take on an adventure is heavy loads – it will limit the places we can explore and the success of the journey. We need to stop being so hard on ourselves and let ourselves make mistakes and play like children. We need to stop thinking of the end result, the destination – a child has more fun mixing, eating, playing with cake dough than it does eating the cake at the end.
A key to the next few months is the ability to wander ‘aimlesslessly’ with God . To give him time and focus. To rest in his presence with or without music and just spend time with him. I cannot emphasis how important it is to take time out and soak in the Holy Spirit.
Keys to deal with pressure
- Take the pressure off ourselves, our own demands and expectations.
- Practically stop doing something to free up some time
- Don’t waste time that is already free – either relax well (not in front of tv) or spend it with God
- Lay burdens and worries on God and take up his yoke to keep heart free and ready to learn
- The things you actively do do them from a place of peace not pressure
Today: Ask where in your life are you putting pressure on yourself. Give yourself permission to free up time in this season to sit and daydream with your Father
Without free will we cannot make our own choices, learn from our mistakes and grow up. It has always been the heart of our Father that we mature; that we learn, love and reach our full potential in Him. This is when we are like the crocus as we open our petals and bloom into something beautiful.
Our family history
These people are our ancestors. Each person represents the journey of a family of peoples.
- Adam – created a grown man ready to reproduce, sin broke his connection with his Father. Mankind regressed had to be birthed again.
- Noah/child – the ark is a picture of baby in bulrushes covered in tar. A family hidden and saved from destruction and evil just like baby Moses. He was birthed into the cleansed earth through gushing waters
- Abraham/toddler – wide eyed and fresh he is shown the stars and sands of God’s world. He starts to understand there is a God and builds a relationship with him
- Isaac/child – learning how family and relationships work
- Jacob/ young teen – tussling and wrestling with ideas, finding his feet, seeking independence alongside relationship, finding own thoughts, his own heart
- Joseph /older teen – finding true identity among those that think differently (Egyptians), leaning to take responsibility, make good choices, understanding family forgiveness and reconciliation
- Moses and the children of Israel/transitioning into adulthood – experiencing the process of leaving home, finding their own ground/freedom, initiation of baptism through the red sea
The phrase “Children of Israel” is used 335 times in the Pentateuch (first 5 books of the bible). This shows how God was training them and teaching them as his own children.
Moses and the Israelites now reach the cusp of adulthood/maturity. It is time for them to leave their childish ways behind them and live as supernatural adults (1 Corinthians 13:10-12). It is time for them to leave the house of Egypt and their identity of slaves behind. They set out on a journey to find who they really are. Egypt was never their home and slavery was never to be their identity – God wanted to show them who he had made them to be.
Having left Egypt they are about to enter God’s college – his boot camp. This is commonly known as the wilderness. It is here that God’s children were to start their valuable training. They would start to learn about their ancestors, who is this God they worship and where do they belong.
Reflecting on our own family walk as the people of God we stand in a place of transition. There is before us our own land (literally) to take, our own promises to bring into fulfillment and our own Jericho to overcome. In order to prepare us for this before us for the next few months is an expanse of training. This time may look like a place of drifting and lack but actually it is a vital stage of maturation that will us enable us to steward heaven coming to earth in revival, miracles and wonders.
Today: Think about how we, as the people of God, are walking in a new place of freedom and open space. As we enter God’s special college for maturity count yourself into the boot camp. What do you hope to learn during this time?