On this last day of the Writing Challenge, some reflection upon the last 30 days is called for. Did I see what I hoped to see during this month of November, disappointingly No.
If you remember, I had hoped to chronicle the promised great outpouring of the Holy Spirit. If it is going on right now, then it is nowhere to be found in my neighbourhood and region. In fact, compared with the beginning of November there have been more setbacks and closed doors.
Perhaps the only thing gained is a better understanding of how the prophetic words, if they are genuine, fit together. So here goes my interpretation:
Whatever is going to happen is going to be completely God initiated. The most we can do is to prepare our hearts as best we can, and continue to pray. One image used was divine fire coming down from heaven and igniting some chosen hearts and not others. Another image used was of wildfire angels bringing this transformation to individuals. Upon those for whom this happens, there will be given extraordinary purpose and anointing to accomplish that purpose, and they are likely to be young people, people who have been through trauma and times of great testing, people who are normally overlooked or ignored, and some that you'd expect to have been too worldly like socialites and members of bikie gangs.
Whatever is going to be initiated by God is going to go a long way towards denominational unity, but not without a fair bit of denominational chaos. Many of you have read the stories of how the Catholic charismatic renewal started. Think about how you would react if 20 people from diverse backgrounds walked into your church praising God like King David did, preaching, prophesying and healing people. Are you going to join them, and fall on your knees to pray for guidance in how to work with this movement or grace? Or are you going to find extraordinary new sympathy for the chief priests and elders who had to deal with the growing aftermath of the first Pentecost?
Another certainty is that it won't be taking place in a vacuum. Of the things that have happened this November the increasing secularisation of society, the public rejection of God's blueprints for happy human life, and increasingly public displays of hatred toward Christianity are quite notable. For God's people to withstand the pull to be liked and popular and safe - there has to be an increase in God's active power in the lives of believers. It is not too hard to see a separation taking place between those who actively believe in God and those who want freedom from anything to do with God – just read the comments on social media. Any middle ground between these two sides is rapidly diminishing, and everyone will have to confront the necessity to choose. Without the special graces from God no one would have the strength to endure martyrdom and persecution.
Something we have witnessed this November is the exposure and removal of corruption, especially in the entertainment industry and in politics. It stands to reason that you can't build new structures of grace to buttress a world-wide conversion to God unless you first dismantle the structures of sin and conspiracies of malice.
On the one hand we have people declaring breakthrough, and victory, and new authority and new ministries, increase and acceleration and an end-time harvest. Whether this is solely an evangelistic harvest of souls to active faith in Jesus or whether this is a harvest of all the sowing that has taken place in tears in the fields of family, parish, education and employment – or both, is unclear. I hope it is both.
What harvesting actually means in this context and how to do it, that's a mystery. All of my tentative steps to bring some God stuff into conversation have yielded nada on the scale of visible results. If the harvest is indeed great and ready, surely there would be big response to just about any effort. Maybe that's just epic fail on my part due to lack of courage to rock the boat by questioning the dubious moral situations many of my acquaintance are in.
On the other hand, there's a more recent theme in prophetic word that you won't get the goodies (breakthrough, harvest, abundance, rewards) unless you battle with the enemy to attain them. In effect, the promised goodies are the spoils of warfare.
What warfare actually means in this context, and how to do it, well that's another mystery. It could be the spiritual warfare of intercession, praying in union with others that God would bring down and destroy all the strongholds of the enemy. It could be the daily battle to believe that God cares and is preparing great and wonderful destinies when all you see around you are broken dreams, disappointments, and the aridity that comes when there are no answers to prayers and no obvious explanations for why it feels like God is ignoring you and that you have been completely abandoned. It could be deliverance ministry. It could be all of the above.
Over and over there have been other themes of surrender to God's will, of resting in Him and not striving, of seeking a deeper walk of intimacy with Him. In the light of the themes of divine fire they make some kind of sense. To be able to host the presence of God at a level like this will indeed require massive preparation of the heart.
Another recurring theme is, 'Are you ready?' This bit made more sense over the last 24 hours when reflecting on Mark 13:33-37 and the call to stay awake. Have you ever had a relative arrive home from overseas? You know they are coming, but due to customs and traffic delays, you have no idea exactly when. If you want the best bit of their homecoming and the freshest sharings of their adventures, you have to be there when they arrive. If you have dozed off and need to be awoken, you will have missed the best bit. If something happens and you only get to hear them retell their story for the 2nd, 3rd for 4th time, then you aren't going to get it all. With each retelling, it gets shorter and less enthusiastic. So in the same way, those who are ready when this great move of God happens are going to be light years ahead of the rest of us.
Which brings me to all my fears: that I will get bypassed and not included in the company of fiery ones; that those who sow will not get to reap; that I will never have the requisite praise, humility and gentleness and that whatever the criteria is that I'll never get there and never get there in time. There was a specific warning that those who have preached about and longed for these days could miss out completely due to a sense of entitlement. That rocked me to the core.
So if you have some spare time to pray for others, please pray for me and for my dearest ones.
The battle, if that is what it is, is fierce. If you have been accounted as useless and not worthwhile knowing and can't remember how long it's been since you felt God took an active interest in providing a heart-stopping encounter with His love, how can you find the audacity to believe that this situation can change dramatically for the better? Because knowing darned well without that kind of faith and trust it isn't going to happen, and that you haven't got it and it feels cruel that without any ray of light from above that you have somehow got to rise above all the hurts and wounds and get there. How is this a most loving gift and invitation from a tender-hearted God? I don’t know. But supposedly it is. You might quote, 'God only tests those that He loves', which is probably true, but not at all helpful if you are living off general promises made by Him to everyone and you have no personal, specific promise of your own from Him to cling to.
All we can do is thank Him that in the psalms and canticles there are sufficient examples of people complaining to Him and lamenting His seeming absence and disinterest in our troubles – because it means it is OK to add our own, and that they must be acceptable to Him somehow.
Come Holy Spirit. Amen.