I have been so honored to be part of the team at Beloved Prodigal over this last year, and I have been amazed at the opening of my heart that God has brought through the connections given there. The ways that we have prayed for each other in the midst of our trials have been such a blessing. Just a few weeks ago, I was overwhelmed by a word and by a dream the Lord gave to me, and I felt His nudging to share it here with you.
As my body had been trying to recover from months of side effects caused by failed medications, I heard the Lord whisper the word “cleanse” over me.
“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:22 NIV
I sought to follow Him into that place of cleansing, and I allowed Him to slow my body even more than was normal. Eventually, as I spent a day in a physical cleanse, I offered my heart up to Him to cleanse it also, to wash away the debris that had accumulated. As He indeed uncovered a rebelliousness that I had long clung to, I wanted to turn away.
“But Lord, I have needed to take care of so many issues. I have needed to shoulder a heavy load.” The tears ran down my face, even as I knew that HE wanted to carry the loads for me: He only was sufficient, and I had rebelled every time I tried to take responsibility. The fault for my illnesses and my failed medications were not mine to carry. I had shouldered that load long enough.
I had grown accustomed to carrying the “offense” of this disease as if it were my own burden. The nature of an autoimmune disease is such that one’s own body starts attacking itself, destroying its cells for reasons not fully understood. My own body was offended by me. I had carried a similar wound from past trials with the Body of Christ: I was the offensive one, who caused others to be offended. I had forgiven the Body of Christ for those labels, but I had allowed the name of “offensive” to stick. I had shouldered that load long enough.
“Remember these things, Jacob,
for you, Israel, are my servant.
I have made you, you are my servant;
Israel, I will not forget you.
22 I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me,
for I have redeemed you.”
23 Sing for joy, you heavens, for the Lord has done this;
shout aloud, you earth beneath.
Burst into song, you mountains,
you forests and all your trees,
for the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
he displays his glory in Israel. Isaiah 44:21-23 NIV
I heard His gentle whisper to me:
“Come away with Me. I am not offended by your weaknesses. I am already here in the midst of them.”
Over the past many months, I had heard Him call to me again and again as the pain seemed to strike me down. Only His mercy carried me through the unrelenting waves. Yet, this time in the calling there was more:
“Come see what I have prepared for you here. You are mine. Everything I have is yours!”
I was so sleepy after the day of cleansing. The call to rest in His presence overwhelmed me and I fell asleep. Suddenly I found myself dreaming.
2 I am a rose[b] of Sharon,
a lily of the valleys.
2 Like a lily among thorns
is my darling among the young women.
The sunrise shed a deep coral color upon a beautiful garden such as I had never seen before. Colors of every hue were shining along the path: my hands stroked the blooms as I wondered along. I noticed a sign over the entrance to the path, and it read: “The Beloved Prodigal Garden.” As I walked, I sensed Jesus was pointing out to me that every flower was a gift He had grown along my way of rebelliousness. “How could this be, Lord? I was so far from you, and I was so ugly.”
“Every time you glanced my way, every time you lifted even a heartbeat towards me, I planted a beautiful seed there. This is the garden that I was growing while your heart was growing. Enjoy what I have made for you! Enjoy me here!”
The fragrance of the blooms wafted before me, but my eyelids fluttered, when the aching in my body awakened me for a moment. I fell asleep again, and the dreaming returned. As I looked down at my feet, there lay a gate of purest white. I lifted the latch and realized that the gate was connected to the loveliest white picket fence, glowing as if it were freshly painted with more of that purest white. It surrounded and protected the abundant blossoms.
You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain. Song of Songs 4:12
I awoke with the vision floating in front of my eyes, hardly believing that it could have been true. Every trial that I had faced was part of the garden that my Lord was preparing. All the while that my flesh had been resisting His touch, He had been keeping my heart safe and enclosed. Each one of my surrenders to His way had only brought a fresh drink from His pure living water, causing more seedlings to spring forth. What had felt impossible to me was a true picture of His dear tending. He called me His own daughter, His own garden.
Have you been in a place of needing to be cleansed? Have you felt far away from the ONE who would bring His healing water to you? He sees each one of us as so precious. He wants to work in the garden of your heart just as He has worked in mine. He wants to speak His own words to you.
Can I invite you to pray along with me, as we lift our hearts to Him now?
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for the sweet love that You have poured over us. We confess that we have not always given our full hearts to You. But we can hear Your voice calling to us, and we fall before You now. Will You wash us clean again with Your living water? We are overwhelmed that You call us lovely. We are in awe of the precious gifts that You have won for us. Thank You for Your amazing love. We bow before You in this place of Your garden of love. May we lift back to You our own love here. May You plant Your seeds of beauty deep within our hearts.
In Your precious name we pray,
(First photo bettiegsraseasons.com; Second photo courtesy of Peter Mason, Unsplash)
(This post was originally shared with The Beloved Prodigal Community.)
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