Guarding your heart during a challenging season can enable you to increase in radiance and strength through difficult times. Here are 5 guideposts for that process!
(1. Determine your leader
(2. Don't judge others
(3. Exercised gratitude
(4. Process honestly
(5. Seize opportunities
Reflection: Which of these guideposts challenge you most? How can you incorporate it into your week?
The quiet has always drawn me in. I do not fear it, despise it, or resist it. Actually, I love it. In the “quiet” I find the most profound noise; sound I would otherwise never hear. The silence after a stunning performance, the stillness of water free from motion, the solitude of the deep woods – these are the places where my personal history with God was forged.
In this season of quarantine, there is an unsettling form of quiet over the land. It's eerie, it's lonely, it’s threatening, it's afraid. This unnerving “quiet” is more like a mute button than an invitation into deeper sound. It feels like a barrier, not a liberator. It is odd, quiet.
Easter is approaching.
Our world is plagued by an eerie quiet.
Churches are closed.
But, are they? What even is church? What are the sounds of Easter? If Easter has no sunrise service, performed music, parades, eggs, or gatherings, what is it? If Easter is quiet, what are we left to discover about Easter?
In the Easter Story (The Passion of Christ) there is an underscoring narrative that takes place in quiet. It is the story of Jesus and His Father co-laboring in suffering love unto redemption for the whole world. Moments of solitude, intimacy and silence lace the explosive power of the salvation story. Quiet has a role to play in Easter.
I believe that the spiritual quiet place is our invitation this Easter. The deeper narrative of Easter is inviting you and I to be washed. Those who enter into it with fresh eyes will experience waves of baptism making old things new. You and I are invited in a unique way this Easter to swallow hard on the heartbeat of this epic story, release its traditional flare, and therein find that it is intimacy with God, not an institution, that both erected and hold this timeless history. You and I are the church. Jesus is our King. Quiet intimacy with the Father is the underscore of His story, and ours. Let's dare to enter the quiet layers of Jesus' narrative - embracing - a quiet Easter.
Reflection: What are you doing on Easter? Can you carve out time for intimacy with the Father? Write down your plan.
p.s. Below is a downloadable prayer guide for Easter Morning! It is purposed to help facilitate intimacy with God as a unique celebration of Easter together. I invite you to set aside 90 minutes on Easter to join me and others in this prayer journey! More information @ ConnectUp.
You cannot force a bud to open.
You must wait for it.
If you wait well, you will be rewarded -
color, shape, scent.
If you pry it open prematurely,
the very gift that is in bloom may very well break your heart.
The destruction of control does not easily repent.
God's timing, friends.
Reflection: What timing have you been anxious about? Can you release that worry to God today? I invite you to stop and open up your hands in front of you right now. Pray this with me from Psalm 31:15, "My times are in Your hands." Release your worry about timing to Jesus, physically let go, and ask, "Jesus, what do you want to put into my hands instead?" Jot down what you sense from Him.
The word that keeps resonating in my spirit these days is “opportunity.” It’s singing inside of my head, like a bell that refuses to stop swinging back and forth.
A year ago I read a fantastic book by Eric Metaxes called 7 Women and The Secret of their Greatness. The book chronicles the stories of Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, Maria Skobstsova, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks and Mother Teresa. The book both frightened and inspired me. It frightened me because every one of these women emerged as a hero in their time through fierce courage in the face of raging difficulties. On the other hand, it inspired me because every one of them also chose of their own free will to proactively tackle opportunities during inopportune times in history. These leaders acted when no one was forcing them to respond. They arose when no one would’ve blamed them for remaining silent, hidden, and uninvolved.
At the time that I read that book, I was limping emotionally after another collision with loss in my own story. Grief plagued my heart. I could not escape the waves of loneliness and sorrow that I was doused in daily. The stories of these women helped me swallow hard the reality that suffering sets the stage for greatness, if we allow ourselves to be called forward through it.
I feel aware of the darkness we are facing together in our world; this virus, this enemy, this nightmare. I see it, clearly. But, I also see something bright emerging through it, a dawn. Reality is holding more than suffering right now, it is also holding glory – for those who choose it. Some people are going to emerge from this time in history with fierce strength and brilliance. Are you one of them? Am I? Perhaps front-line work is not for everyone. But, what if it is? What if we each have our own front line, and it’s ours to seize - right now?
Revival for your marriage? Homeschooling for your kids? Feeding a neighbor? Staying home to protect another? Depth for your prayer life? Being a voice to the masses who are bored on the internet? Please, somebody! Prompting smiles? Creating art that helps people process grief? Disseminating beauty that can arrest weary souls? Serving sick patients? Holding the hands of the elderly? Feeding the hungry?
Opportunities are blooming like a ring of golden doors all around us. The doors are waiting for the daring to enter into them. You and I are presented, now, in this moment of time, with an invitation to jump head first into unexpected opportunities. The invitation is out to one, to all. It’s out to you, to me. Today.
What is your front line? How can you tackle it?
Go for it, friends.
Let’s do this.
Seize the opportunities.
p.s. Don’t compare your front-line to someone else’s, it will tarnish the brightness of yours.
"Jesus is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18
When Jesus walked the earth, he was drawn to the brokenhearted. His compassionate heart pulled him towards those who were hurting, alone, rejected and broken. Why? We could assume it was a hero complex, the need to fix things, which He did quite well. But, I believe Jesus’ motivation for ministry to the brokenhearted was much deeper than a ministry agenda. I believe that Jesus ministered to the hurting because He loves the brokenhearted. Jesus chose out of his own desire to forge friendships with those who dare to live this wild life with an honest and open heart. It is there, in the soil of an honest heart, that God performs the wondrous process of turning ashes into beauty. Ministry to the heart was not simply an assignment for Jesus. It was and is a part of His very nature.
I have my own testimony of emotional healing. My story is laced with unexpected losses, tragedies, disappointments and prolonged seasons of emotional pain and recovery. I do not believe that this disqualifies me from a sense of “wholeness” or “usefulness” for God. On the contrary, I believe that the crevices caused by pain in my heart are now wells for the water of the Holy Spirit, if I dare to submit them to God and receive healing in those places. My story trumpets the healing power of Jesus, and the redemption that He so passionately presses into the deficits of our life experiences. I believe that this power to heal is available through Jesus for all who desire for their hearts to be healed.
Healing hearts is something that Jesus has been doing since He set foot onto the earth, and He is still doing it every day! I love following Jesus around and serving His ministry to people’s hearts. Below is a glimpse of what the process of emotional healing often looks like for me. It is not a formula or grid, but a real-life testimony with insights shared along the way. My prayer as you read this is that you will both find yourself in the story for a deeper healing experience, as well as gather helpful tools for partnering with Jesus in this ministry.
She sits down in front of me; upright and composed. I ask her what she would like prayer for. I then watched her demeanor change. She tells me about a trauma she experienced one year ago, and the torment of emotional pain in her heart ever since. As she shares her story, her composure disintegrates. Her head hangs low, her body trembles, and in time the woman before me is weeping and undone. I move in towards her, and do what I always do first – I honor her.
Honor is the crown of emotional healing ministry (Jn 8:11). People are the way they are for a reason; their stories are tapestries of experiences that form the condition of their hearts. Most people who suffer from emotional pain have exerted enormous amounts of courage in their lives to be where they are. Too often they do not perceive themselves as strong, but rather as victims. People must know that they have strength, before they will identify with the strength to heal. As ministers, it’s our job to help people discover their strength, and honor them as overcomers in their own stories.
One of the common misconceptions about healing for the heart is that the brokenhearted are weak, unfortified, needy, and apathetic people. It’s not true. The brokenhearted are, in my opinion, the heroes of our world. These are people who are daring to live their lives despite real internal injuries. We have a lot to learn from them. The brokenhearted are not victims, they are overcomers.
“I honor you for choosing to share this with me today,” I looked her straight in the eye. “I know it takes courage to face this right now, and I want you to know that I see immense strength in you.” The honor I give her unlocks her heart further, as honor does, and she begins share honestly about the torment of a year in ministry leadership while trying to navigate her own unresolved personal brokenness.
What is happening on the inside of someone impacts the rest of their lives (Prov. 4:23). When the heart is sick, hurting, disoriented, and afraid, it sends those signals throughout that person’s entire being. As a result, the person’s perception and experience of life is overshadowed by that pain. When injuries to the heart are not dealt with, they fester until there is a breakdown of some kind, often proving destructive in some measure.
I feel that it is important to dismantle the shame around emotional, mental, and spiritual struggle, particularly for ministry leaders. Jesus was fully God, and yet fully human. He identifies with our weaknesses (Heb. 4:15). If Jesus identifies with us, why are we so afraid to admit our struggle? Does hiding our insecurities make us more qualified? Not at all. Jesus is most impressed with an honest and humble heart (Lk 8:15). Freedom comes when honesty is courageously chosen. The deeper the honesty embraced, the deeper the freedom can be experienced.
As the woman shares honestly, I take a few notes of the offenses she has suffered. When she finishes, I ask “Are you willing to forgive these people who hurt you?” I explain to her that forgiveness does not mean that what took place does not matter. It means handing over the role of judge to Jesus. I lead her in forgiveness. She courageously owns the process and chooses to forgive. I know that freedom has come when she begins to feel compassion for those who hurt her.
For the person holding the offense, forgiveness removes the impact that the hurt has had upon them. It requires the person to move forward, however, which means that they have to be willing to surrender to God the justice that their pain cries out for. The process of forgiveness requires the person to fold over the grave clothes on the offense and bury it, letting go of all hope for a better past.
The freedom that comes through forgiveness is stunning. Often people do not realize that when they hold on to bitterness, they are the ones who continue to suffer from the wrong done to them (Matt 18:34). The offender has long since moved on, but they are still living their life on a bed of needles that could be exchanged for a bed of peace through forgiveness. When an offense from the past continues to be deeply painful, it is often a sign that more forgiveness is needed.
Inviting people to forgive is our great privilege as ministers. It does not diminish their experience, but rather exalts the price that Jesus paid for it. The blood of Jesus is so powerful that it can redeem our past. This is the joy we have to share with people when we minister forgiveness.
“Do you want to release this emotional pain you came in with today to Jesus?” I watch her process the question and realize the answer was not as straightforward as it seemed. I add another layer, “Let’s ask Jesus this question. ‘Jesus, will I be safe if I give this pain to you today?’”
Why did Jesus ask the cripple of 38 years if he wanted to get well (Jn. 5:6)? Healing can come at a cost to people. It can cost aspects of their personality, their patterns of self-protection, their sense of familiarity with life and how it works. Obviously, the benefits of a free heart far outweigh the costs of healing, but it is a still a choice. That choice belongs to the person receiving ministry, who will also be the one to live out the impact of that decision.
The heart is not truly healing unless the heart is honestly and authentically engaged in the healing process. People can declare themselves “well” all day long, but if their heart is resisting that change internally, they will walk away unchanged and even frustrated. Pursuing wholeness means ministering with the patience, gentleness, and kindness to assure that the whole person is on board and able to move forward honestly in the healing process.
Emotional pain is different than physical pain in a number of ways. One of the main differences is that emotional pain is often an expression of an unmet need. It is not simply a violation that needs to be cast out or reversed. Emotional pain can also serve a purpose of protecting or advocating for the heart, in which case it needs to be validated. Jesus offers our hearts a better protection than emotional pain. People often need a revelation of God’s protection before they feel safe to engage the healing process and release their pain from its protective role.
“I don’t think I can do that right now … let go of this pain…” the women looks at me in despair. I look back at her with bright eyes of hope. “That’s okay! Let’s do this first …” I then begin to work with her on building her connection with Jesus, her sense of safety with Him, and her experience of His love. “Let’s ask Jesus, ‘Jesus how do you see me? Is there a lie I believe about you?’”
One of my favorite aspects of healing prayer ministry is helping strengthen people’s connection with God. One word from God can solve a thousand needs of the heart. I spend a lot of time in ministry sessions building intimacy with God, because I know that as soon as someone has that connection for themselves, Jesus will meet their needs directly. My goal while ministering is to bring people to a place where they can receive the love of God deeply, and from there I get to simply watch Jesus perform. Once someone is connected to the love of God, their heart is suddenly safe, and they will shed layers of emotional pain without resistance.
It is both an art and skill to discern and deconstruct the blocks that people live with in their relationship with Jesus, to reconcile people in their hearts to God (2 Cor. 5:18). This is because some of the blocks are conscious, but many are unconscious. Many people live with a distant, shallow, or fragmented connection with God. They have never really stopped to ask why their intimacy with God is not vibrant. The good news is that the “why” question can be answered when brought to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit knows both our conscious and subconscious minds and he is very willing to reveal hindrances to our intimacy with Jesus.
In time, this woman who is sitting before me renounces the lies that she has come to believe about Jesus during her time of suffering. She renounces the lie that He was absent, that He was apathetic, that He is distant, and then … she asks Holy Spirit, “What is the truth?” The truths from God are deposited into her heart like love bombs determined to consume her pain. It is glorious to watch. “Do you think are ready now to surrender your pain to Jesus?” “Yes!” “Okay, let’s give it to Him and ask, ‘What do you give me in exchange?’”
God designed our hearts to be full. When the heart gives something up like emotional pain, it is left with the need to filled in that same place. Not only that, the pain that was released is often in direct contradiction to a gift of God that belongs in that space. Divine exchanges are the point of transformation when it comes to healing the heart. (Is. 61:1-3)
For example, when someone releases to God the lie that their voice does not matter, I am most confident that God has called them in some capacity be a voice. When someone gives to God the fear of friendships, I wonder if they are anointed to foster and nurture community. Individuals who have wrestled with fear often have a call of courage on their life. The enemy works very strategically in our lives to shut down our purpose through specific emotional pains and interruptions. When ministering, it is an absolute joy not only to see emotional pain be healed, but also to see the individual’s heart find its true home and purpose through a divine exchange.
Suddenly, the power of God comes into the room and I watch a transformation take place. The women describes to me that she has been so fearful since the traumatic experience, but in this moment, she can feel God calling her a lioness who was made to roar! Boldness and courage fill her heart from the Holy Spirit. I prophesy over her, and we both erupt into grateful and heartfelt prayer. She then looks up, “The pain is gone!” Tears of joy. She is healed!
If we could x-ray the soul, the impact of these emotional healing moments would blow our minds. It is no small thing when God binds up the brokenhearted, and sets captives free. It is miraculous, and involves outcomes that many would consider medically and psychologically impossible. Often you can physically see the effects of the emotional healing in the person’s posture, demeanor, face, and eyes. The core of the healing, however, has taken place deep within the heart and soul. The person’s testimony is the shouting evidence that Jesus has done what only Jesus can do for them; performed a healing in their heart.
Emotional Healing is part of the heartbeat of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are so many people suffering from emotional and mental pain in our world that are not being offered hope for freedom. I believe it is part of our responsibility as followers of Jesus to share this good news that Jesus heals hearts. I also believe that it is our responsibility to be honest about our own hearts’ condition, and become vulnerable before God and others for healing ministry when we need it. Jesus is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Ps. 34:18). Let’s position ourselves closer to Jesus!
May the compassionate heart of Jesus be ignited in you today!
*Original Published @ globalawakening.com/blog
Katie Luse is a speaker and writer who is passionate about navigating life with eyes on a hunt for beauty.