Forgiveness Series – Part 1: Imprisoned

I’ve awoken shaking with fear tightly gripping my heart, I can hardly breathe. I gasp for air and look around my bleak prison cell. My eyes feel heavy and my heart is weighed down. I try to sit up but my injuries prevent me from moving without pain. I struggle over to the wash basin to try and splash some water on my face. As I stand my head swims and I struggle to stay upright. I slowly drag myself to my bed and gently ease my weary body back down. I lay on my side because the bruises make it too painful to put pressure on my back. Tears flow without restraint as the sorrow overwhelms me. I lie there for hours battered and bruised feeling feel just as black and blue on inside as the outside. I feel dead and completely void of life.

I hear a faint whisper and slowly sit up wondering if my prayers have finally been answered. “Lord?!” I cry out “please speak to me!” I hold my breath waiting for a response.

Child listen

I sit up straight with my heart beating fast

the key for your release is near

I sit there stunned looking around trying to find where a key could be hidden. I stop my search and cry out: “where is the key Lord?”

Forgiveness rings out in my ears and I shrink in fear.

“How can You possibly expect me to forgive? Do you not see my pain, have you not heard my cries? How can I possibly forgive them for all the brutality?”

I cry bitter tears and hide under the thin blanket. A warmth spreads through my cold body and I peek out from the covers “Lord?”

I’m here child, will you please listen?

I slowly sit up and hang my head, “yes Lord I’ll listen”

Take a deep breath and listen carefully

I inhale and exhale a few deep breaths and wait with my heart feeling heavy

Is there anyone you can forgive?

“No Lord I simply can’t”

I will help you, will you trust me?

I shrug my shoulders and hang my head lower as the pain increases in my heart. I feel sick at the mere thought of having to forgive, as my stomach churns I wonder how it can even be possible. “Lord how can You possibly condone what they did?”

Child, I DON’T condone what they did, forgiveness is not about that.

“Why didn’t you stop them?” I sob heart wrenching tears and curl up on the cold hard bed. I lie there for ages wondering if God has left me alone, “So You’ve abandoned me again?” I whisper to the wall.

No child I promised that I would never leave you nor forsake you. I’m right here where I’ve always been and where I’ll always be!

I cry more and blubber “Then why can’t I feel Your presence? Why do I feel so alone?”

That is a lie my child, don’t allow those feelings to put the wall up between us.

“How Lord can I believe? How can I trust You?”

Allow me to love you, allow me to comfort you, to strengthen you and allow me to enable you to forgive.

“But Lord how can I possibly let them ‘off the hook’ for what has happened? Why don’t you punish them?”

Child what they did was devastating enough, don’t allow the feelings of hatred, bitterness, judgement, discouragement and anger fester in your heart and mind any longer.

I feel sick again and wonder if I might throw up, but then rage takes over and I yell: “I want to be angry, I want to hurt them back!”

Child, NO! Don’t give the enemy a foothold in your life. You must let go!

I curl up and sob “I don’t want to Lord, I simply cannot”

Child will you trust me to help you?

I shrug and think for awhile. I go through all my options and weigh them up. I finally decide that I don’t want to stay in this place any longer. “Ok Lord I’ll trust You”, a great warmth surrounds my heart and I let out a huge sigh. The weight of pain has started to lift. I softly pray:

“Heavenly Father dwelling in the heavenly realms

Hallowed be Thy name

Thy kingdom come

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven

Grant me this day my daily bread

Please forgive my sins, as I forgive (my throat catches but I push through the pain and the strangling of my vocal cords to continue) those who have sinned against me

Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen!”

As the words reverberate around the room I feel as if the walls are shaking and shifting. I open my eyes and look at the door as it begins to creak and groan.

Well done child!

I smile for the first time in a long time and I feel the pressure lift from my heart. “Ok Lord what now? The door is still locked tight”

Laughter fills the room and the quiet voice cries out: patience child

I sit in the silence and allow the warmth to spread into the very depths of my being, “Ok Lord, I’m ready what do I do now?”

Begin to name and forgive each person as they come into your mind, don’t be afraid I’m right here

Faces begin to flash in my mind and as each one comes into focus I cry out: “Lord help me to forgive”, the pain intensifies, and I double over as great sobs of grief wash over me. As the faces build and build I cry out: “Lord, it’s too much I cannot continue”.

Child you are far stronger than you realise, draw upon My strength not yours

I take a deep breath and allow the pain to subside before I continue, “Ok Lord strengthen me”. The faces turn into moments and as the memories race through my mind the pain stabs at my heart, “Lord I forgive! Lord I release the pain to You, please take it away. I let go of hatred, bitterness, judgement, discouragement and anger. Take it all away. Lord please fill me with compassion towards those who have hurt me.” A peace falls upon me like I’ve never known before and I feel stronger and so full of life.

“Thank You Lord” I cry and jump up with great excitement. I hear the sound of metal on concrete and I look down. I gasp as my gaze falls upon a beautiful large key lying on the floor, I bend and gently pick it up.

Open up the door my child for you’re now free.

I walk over to my prison door and I find that the key fits perfectly into the lock and easily turns. As the door swings open I take a final look back at my cold prison cell. I stand there in amazement but also with grief gripping my heart, “Lord I’m so sorry for sitting here feeling hard done by and sorry for myself. I wallowed in my grief and didn’t cry out to you for so long”

It’s ok my child, move forward now with My great compassion burning bright in your chest.

I lift my head and look down the hallway. I can see others trapped in cells just like mine, “Lord shall I share with them what I’ve learnt?”

Of course my child! Your freedom is only one part of the story, now you must go and tell others how I can set them free.

As I walk away from my prison cell my heart fills with God’s great compassion.

“Lord help me to always display kindness, grant me a gentle and loving heart. Teach me how to walk in humility, knowing that it is Your strength alone that enables me. Grant to me a steadfast nature that can patiently endure injustice or unpleasant circumstances. Lord help to be gracious towards others by readily, willingly and completely forgiving them. May I always remember to forgive others not just because You command me to, but because You long to bestow forgiveness upon me and others. Holy Spirit flow Your great forgiveness through my life into the lives of others.”

As I move along the corridor I have a new sense of purpose!

The Bible urges us to forgive and to release blessing upon those who have hurt us. Forgiveness is such a hard issue to deal with and time after time I know I’ve gotten it wrong. I desire to not continually keep getting it wrong. I recently watched the training dvd from the Sozo ministry and they explained that we can be imprisoned due to unforgiveness, that really sparked within me a desire to know how to completely forgive. I wanted to truly and fully forgive from my heart. I looked up the Bible verse they mentioned and then others and I spent time allowing the words to wash over me. As I pressed into God I wrote this story. Please note that I haven’t been physically abused or imprisoned in the traditional sense – I haven’t committed a crime that has resulted in me being in jail. But I have been imprisoned in a physically debilitated body; I have felt imprisoned because my mind has experienced depression; I have felt emotionally imprisoned and I have felt spiritually imprisoned. I wrote this story using those elements as my inspiration.

As I’ve journeyed upon deep inner healing my need to ask for forgiveness has burned in my heart. I’ve had to address my failing and wrong doings.  Acts 3:19 issues a challenge to repent, that is to change our inner self which includes dealing with our old ways of thinking, our regrets and past sins. We are to turn to God and seek His purpose for our life so that our sins can be wiped away, completely erased, we will then experience a refreshing which comes from the presence of the Lord.

I absolutely loved the idea of being refreshed and was pleasantly surprised to discover that as I allowed God to bring up issues, that really needed to be dealt with, I found a real release and refreshing through repentance and a commitment to change.

Daniel 9 contains a wonderful prayer and here is my paraphrased version: I pray now and confess my sins to You Almighty God. Lord You are so great and awesome, a faithful God that keeps His covenants and extends lovingkindness towards those who love You and keep Your commandments. I acknowledge that I have sinned and done wrong by You, I have behaved badly and rebelled from obeying Your commandments. There have been many times I haven’t listened to You, I apologise now and ask for Your forgiveness. Lord God You are merciful and I beg wholeheartedly for Your forgiveness and seek Your favour by turning away from my old ways. I long to pay attention to Your instructions and I place great value in Your truth. Almighty God Your mighty hand has delivered in the past and I ask that You would extend it now to me. Please let Your face shine upon me; incline Your ear to hear; and open Your eyes to my situation. I present my life before You and ask for Your mercy and compassion. O Lord please forgive me. O Lord please act.

Ephesians 1:7 declares that in Jesus we have redemption, we find deliverance and salvation, because of the blood that Jesus shed for us. We can find forgiveness and the complete pardon from our sins in accordance with His amazing grace that is lavished upon us!

As I studied I cried out: ‘Lord God, I come before You now and I ask for Your forgiveness. As Your child I ask that You would grow within me a heart full of compassion. Help me to display kindness to myself and those around me. Teach me to walk in humility. Develop within me a gentle and loving heart. Build a steadfast spirit within me so that I can patiently endure injustice or unpleasant circumstances. Enable me to be gracious towards others by willingly and completely forgiving them because just as I’ve been forgiven I’m expected and required to forgive. Through the help of the Holy Spirit the forgiveness extended to me can flow through my life into the lives of others (Colossians 3:12- 13). In Jesus’ mighty name I pray, Amen.’

I pray that this has sparked within you some hope and encouragement.

Many blessings, Keona

Picture – Pixabay

Cocoon of Love

I struggled and fought in the cocoon of love

I refused to accept its crushing confines

As I fought my way out I felt victorious

But my victory was short lived for I found my wings had no strength

I flapped my wings and saw the work yet to be done

I collapsed and cried in utter defeat

Wondering why I was unable to fly

I crawled back into the cocoon of love and tried to draw the tattered layers back around my body

I surrendered to the process of being strengthened

I realised I had so much more growing to do

My song of surrender became a sweet sweet sound of love

The cocoon of love gently wove itself around me

I allowed the close confines to remind me of how close i was to God’s heart

The days dragged on and the months gradually passed

I learnt to pray with great thankfulness

I learnt to praise within that cocoon of great love

I wiggled at times but I learnt to stop resisting the work that was being done

I dreamt about the day I would fly and tried to imagine how glorious it would be

A great expectation sparked in my chest as I saw the day approach

As I wiggled one day I realised the cocoon of love had softened and no longer felt stiff and confining

As i wiggled some more I realised my wings had grown so big

As I wiggled some more I heard God call me forth

So I excitedly wiggled and pushed on the cocoon

I saw light break through and tore at the hole

I emerged into the sunlight gloriously new

I flapped my wings and saw the work was finished, I was ready to fly!

Oh what a glorious day

Oh how wonderful it is

To know I can soar and do great things!

I smile as I look back at my cocoon of love

I smile and remember all the lessons I’ve learned

I smile at the patience of my living God, who saw it fit to wrap me within His great love

I smile and go forth to declare His true love

I smile and I soar within His great love

I now dip and dive and fly with my Lord

I allow the current of His great love to lift me up and carry me

I need to never fear for He won’t let me fall

I am held and steadied with His hands of love

“‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus” – Casting Crowns – YouTube lyrics video

Image – Pixabay

Arise from the ashes!

She was finally ready to let go of the past

to end the constant wondering, to lay down the hurt and pain

As she gathered the sticks around her body she dared to dream

Dared to imagine a bright new future

Dared to hope for a new fresh start

Dared to imagine herself as a new creation

As she prepared the nest of sticks around her she wondered

what it would be like to be free to fly again?

As the nest of sticks surrounded her she surrendered herself to the next painful process, reminding herself that this short-term pain would bring long-term gain

As the flames roared around her she screamed out all the pent-up rage that had once brewed so strongly inside her

After sometime all that could be seen was a pile of ashes

But looking closer you could see her there, waiting for the right moment

Just as the last ember died she started to arise

Slowly at first, weighed down by the ash, she struggled until the ashes finally parted and allowed her to rise

Slowly she stood and saw that she was a glorious new creation

She had a new magnificent set of wings, even more beautiful than the old ones

Her eyes had a new spark and her heart beat strong and pure in her chest

Yes! She had a deep knowing that the future was going to be bright and amazing!

He Has Won – Vertical Worship – YouTube video

God Wooed Me

Here is the message I shared Saturday 21st July 2018 at the inaugural Day of Prayer:

During my season of illness there were many moments where I felt completely disconnected from God, but I’ve gone from feeling disconnected to feeling completely overwhelmed by God’s love. I’m in a season where I’m spending more time with God than ever before. The keys to my refreshing are: worship music and studying God’s Word. As I spend time simply worshipping God my focus shifts from the issues of life to the magnitude and wonder of God. Reading God’s Word, meditating upon verses and then applying them to my life is a process where true transformation happens.

I recently studied Stanley J. Grenz and Jay T. Smith’s book Created for Community: Connecting Christian Belief with Christian Living* and they state that as Christians we need to become “people of the book”, this means that we recognised that the Bible is the foundation of our faith AND it is the source of guidance for our lives – that we allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us through Scripture. Studying the Bible with an open heart allows the Holy Spirt to address us; instruct us in how to live; encourage us; and empower us to love God and others as we should. Through the Bible we are sustained and renewed in our battle against the enemy. The Scriptures guide and direct us to reorientate our goals and aspirations so that they line up with God’s perfect plan for our life. We are taught what we ought to believe and how we ought to act. By placing our lives under the teaching of the Bible we commit ourselves to view the world through eyes informed by Scripture. We must open ourselves to the Spirit and allow Him to bathe our hearts with Scripture until our lives reflect the very mind, character, and vision of Jesus.

 There is so much I struggle to understand in the Bible and one of the books I used to find weird is Song of Songs also known as Song of Solomon. But recently I read something and it took my breath away:

10 The one I love calls to me:

The Bridegroom-King

Arise, my dearest. Hurry, my darling.
Come away with me!
I have come as you have asked
to draw you to my heart and lead you out.
For now is the time, my beautiful one.
11 The season has changed,
the bondage of your barren winter has ended,
and the season of hiding is over and gone.
The rains have soaked the earth
12 and left it bright with blossoming flowers.
The season for singing and pruning the vines has arrived.
I hear the cooing of doves in our land,
filling the air with songs to awaken you
and guide you forth.
13 Can you not discern this new day of destiny
breaking forth around you?
The early signs of my purposes and plans
are bursting forth.
The budding vines of new life
are now blooming everywhere.
The fragrance of their flowers whispers,
“There is change in the air.”
Arise, my love, my beautiful companion,
and run with me to the higher place.
For now is the time to arise and come away with me.”

Song of Songs 2:10-13 The Passion Translation

As I read it I sensed God calling out to me, wooing me in fact, to awaken AND arise at any time of the day to join Him in the secret place. As I read that I no longer looked upon my 3am wake ups with bleary eyes and resentment, I saw those moments as a privilege and an honour.
I saw that God had heard my prayers, I had been seeking Him and asking Him to take me deeper and here He was saying “I have come as you have asked.”

In verse 11 is a promise that the barren winter has ended and I felt God’s healing promise ignite. The soaking rain represents the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which is a promise of refreshing and preparation. As I worried and stressed about whether or not I should share, I felt God instruct me to come out of hiding.

Sickness has been so ingrained into my being that I find it easy to hide behind things such as: I’m not well enough; I’m not recovered enough; I’m not trained enough; I’m not ready enough; I’m simply not enough.  But God has told me to stop hiding, to stop living by all of those labels and instead embrace the fact that Jesus is more than enough! Jesus promises to be strong in my weakness because I cannot do anything in my own strength and I certainly couldn’t organise and speak, but God promised that if I was obedient and trusted Him, that He would come through!

I held onto the promise that He would refresh and prepare me.

Because verse 12 declares that it’s the season for singing, which for me means rejoicing and declaring God’s goodness and greatness. I don’t need to worry because He promises that I’ll hear songs to awaken me and guide me forth.

Verse 13 felt like a declaration that today is that new day of destiny breaking forth! That I was to look for the signs that God’s purposes and plans are bursting forth because there is change in the air!

I believe that God is also wooing you because He has a purpose for your life. I wonder if there are things that need to be awakened in your life? Is God calling: “Arise, my dearest. Rise up. Hurry, my darling, my fair one. Come away with me, for now is the time!”. If so then please don’t be afraid anymore because He promises to lead you.

Let Psalm 25:4-5 be our prayer:

4 Lord, direct me throughout my journey
so I can experience your plans for my life.
Reveal the life-paths that are pleasing to you.
Escort me along the way; take me by the hand and teach me.
For you are the God of my increasing salvation;
I have wrapped my heart into yours!(Psalm 25:4-5 The Passion Translation)

Further notes explain that “The Hebrew word most commonly translated as “wait” (wait upon the Lord) is qavah, which also means “to tie together by twisting” or “to entwine” or “to wrap tightly.” This is a beautiful concept of waiting upon God, not as something passive, but entwining our hearts with him and his purposes.”

I wonder if there are things that have got you hiding? Is it unrealistic expectations that others have placed upon you? Is it incorrect labels such as ‘not enough’? Is there a barrier that you’ve placed up? I want to encourage you today that God wants you to come out of hiding. If you will allow Him to, God will take those things away. He can remove the expectations of others and let you know what His expectations are. Feeling like you’re not enough? Please know that You’re a precious child of God and that Jesus’ power is more than enough for you! Whatever wall or barrier you’ve built, surrender it to God, allow the Holy Spirit into that area of your life to do a mighty work.

I hope we can join together and declare that the season has changed! That the bondage of our barren winter has ended, and the season of hiding is over and gone.

I pray that just as the rains have soaked the earth, the Holy Spirit will come and soak us, completely revitalising and empowering us!

As I prayed about God guiding us forth into this new season, I saw 3 distinct pictures:

  • Someone in their bathroom on the floor praying
  • Someone in the cupboard under the stairs
  • And another person daily praying upon a bench

As I prayed more into that I asked God to reveal what those pictures meant. Here is what I believe they represent:

The bathroom represents the cleansing that comes when we spend time with God.

The cupboard represents those moments of intimate solitude, the times we are shut away from the distractions of the world to solely focus on God

The park bench represents the freedom that God offer us, the call to take our secret place out into the world. Because when we go into the secret place, God implants such treasure within us and we become storehouses of God’s power; His love; His wisdom; His grace and so much more! The secret place prepares us for the moments in which we are to release all that has been implanted within us. I want to encourage you so much to STOP HIDING, there are people around you who desperately need some of the treasure you contain. I desperately want you to know that you’re a storehouse of hope for your families, your church, your community, our nation and our world!

Truly! A storehouse of such richness!

Storehouse are filled with things that need to be shared before the produce spoils, so know that you’re in this world for such a time as this!!!!

Let us declare that it’s a new day of destiny breaking forth! For there are signs that God’s purposes and plans are bursting forth; there is change in the air for a new season is upon us!

So what do we do?

We awaken! We awaken ourselves and we awaken others.

We arise as lovers of God; companions of Jesus; and allow the Holy Spirit to take us to the higher place. For now is the time to arise!

This is my prayer:

Thank You Lord that You’re present with us. Holy Spirit, come and awaken us and take us deeper.

We believe that the One we love calls us to arise and join Him in the secret place. We believe that we serve a risen King, One that we know is Immanuel because He dwells with us! Lord God, come and draw us deeper into Your heart.

 Lord, direct us throughout our journeys in life, so we can experience Your plans for our lives. Reveal the life-paths that are pleasing to You. Escort us along the way; take us each by the hand and teach us. For you are the God of our increasing salvation. We have wrapped our hearts into yours! (Psalm 25:4-5 The Passion Translation paraphrased)

We believe the time is now because the season has changed, the bondage of our dry barren winter has ended; thank You that the season of hiding is over and gone. Holy Spirit come and soak us, come and blossom all that is within us. Open our hears to hear Your song that awakens us and guides us forth; release our voices to sing a new song of victory; let us rejoice and declare God’s goodness and greatness. We don’t need to worry because He promises that we will hear songs to awaken us and guide us forth.

We’re so grateful for this new day of destiny that breaks forth; that we can see the early signs of God’s purposes and plans bursting forth. We declare: “There is change in the air.”

We will awaken! We will awaken others.

We arise as lovers of God; companions of Jesus; and allow the Holy Spirit to take us to the higher place. For now is the time to arise! Praise the Lord!

“For as many as are the promises of God, in Christ they are [all answered] “Yes.” So through Him we say our “Amen” to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:20 Amplified Bible

Many blessings, Keona

*Stanley J. Grenz and Jay T. Smith. Created for Community: Connecting Christian Belief with Christian Living. 3rd edition, United States of America: Baker Academic, 2014.

Awake My Soul (A Thousand Tongues) – Matt Maher – YouTube link

Victory In Jesus – Maranatha! Music – YouTube link

Take My Life (And Let It Be) – Chris Tomlin – YouTube link

Day of Prayer

I’m freaking out! I’ve agreed to commit to organise an upcoming event and right now it seems waasaaay too daunting. But as I spend time praying and seeking God I’m reminded of the promise that God’s Word never fails! I’m reminded that nothing is impossible for Him!

“Not one promise from God is empty of power, for nothing is impossible with God!” Luke 1:37 The Passion Translation

“For with God nothing [is or ever] shall be impossible.” LUKE 1:37 Amplified

“For the word of God will never fail.” Luke 1:37 New Living Transaltion

So I surrender Saturday to Him. He alone can and will draw people there; He alone can and will impact lives. I take a deep breath and I spend time thanking God for the opportunity. There is such a peace that comes when I hand it all over to God, it’s so amazing and wonderful.

“Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ.” Philippians 4:6-7 The Passion Translation

Dear friend I’m not sure what you’re wrestling with today, but I would love to encourage you to also grasp hold of the glorious promises that God’s Word never fails! AND that Nothing is impossible for Him!

Can I encourage you to spend some time today surrendering your anxieties, worries and cares to Him and press in to discover “God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding.”

Many blessings, Keona

‘Let The Peace Of God Reign’ – Hillsong – Lyrics YouTube clip

Day of Prayer flyer jpeg