“It Is What It Is, Man”

‘It Is What It Is, Man’

Guest post by FHI student Kristen Wind, who lives in Richmond, Virginia but is originally from Perth, Australia. This is about her recent visit home. Article originally posted on her blog.

When people ask me how I feel about living away from home, I don’t always know how to answer that question. I love my life in Church Hill in Richmond, Virginia, alongside a husband who is sweet and kind, yet strong and wise, and who loves me and our boys with such fullness and humility. I love our friends, our community, our spiritual family and the ways we feel God is active here. After much prayer and consideration, we believe that this is where we are supposed to be.

it is wellDay to day, I feel full, content, happy and confident that we are following the path God has laid out for us. I can honestly say I would not be the person I am today had a handsome Southern boy not swept me off my feet and moved me here to the other side of the world.

However, moving to the other side of the world has not always been a fairy tale. It has painfully stripped away many of the false comforts and “band-aids” that formed my identity and kept me chugging along apart from Jesus. Over time, I’ve come to discover who I really am and to Whom I belong — and that my identity, peace and happiness are not based on circumstances, beauty, my family, material things, intelligence, popularity, pleasing people, keeping up appearances, or what I do. Rather, it is firmly rooted in Christ Jesus. I no longer feel tossed about.

But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.
Ecclesiastes 2:11

BUT… the pain of saying goodbye to my family after every visit to Perth never gets any easier to handle.

I’ve lived in the US for seven years now, and we recently arrived home from our latest trip to Perth. When we come home, I normally “soldier on,” trying to switch off Australia and jump straight back into life as quickly as I can.

This time was different.

At 4 AM on the Monday morning after we returned, I was wide awake, completely undone, anxious and fearful about facing the day. My “soldiering on” plan was not really working to push through the jet lag. It had been a few days since I’d really slept. Frustrated, and feeling hopeless, it didn’t seem like my prayers were being answered, or that God’s grace was meeting me. All that seemed real was that I had three sleepless boys, battled intense and nauseating migraines the day before, and didn’t know how I would make it through the day.

As I said, my philosophy is typically to just get on with it — or, as my brother Rhys would say, “It is what it is, man.” But I felt so exhausted, afraid, and heartsick.

Enter in the sweet nudge of the Holy Spirit saying, “What exactly is it that you want to invite me into? What are you not acknowledging? What hurt do you want me to touch? I can’t help you if you are not willing to acknowledge what’s going on and what you’re feeling.”

It wasn’t even on my radar, but all of a sudden I knew.  I heard from deep within myself: “I wish my mum were here right now. She would know just how to help, just what to do with the boys. I miss my family.” And I just starting crying for hours.

I don’t think I had ever allowed myself to feel the weight of these things before. But I was held by the sweetness of a God who feels our pain, cares about our feelings and hurts, captures and cares about every tear, Who understands our feelings better than we do, and weeps with us. In that moment, I knew that it was safe to feel, because I knew to Whom I could take those feelings.

That moment turned into another opportunity to knock down some walls I had built around my heart, to release some emotions I had buried deep for fear of their pain, and to simply say, “Pull me a little closer, Lord, and meet me where I am today.”

He can only meet us when we first acknowledge that we need to be met. He knows what to do with our tears, fears, weaknesses, and emotions. He sees it all through the eyes of love.

“I don’t understand the mystery of Grace— only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.”
– Anne Lamott

And in that moment He left me with a couple of go-to words for the days ahead.

That “God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). That “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave or forsake you (Joshua 1:5).

When we are at our most raw, vulnerable, ugly, we need to pause and say, “Pull me a little closer Lord.”

I don’t know why I ended up here on the other side of the world, but… “For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).

He has been so faithful to provide for us where we have been planted. In the middle of the tears, the sleep deprivation, and long nights watching the sun come up, I now can’t help but feel thankful and grateful. That is something that can only make sense in the Kingdom of God. He always shows up where we weren’t even looking for Him.

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord while I am here in the land of the living.
Psalm 27:13

So how do I answer the question, “What is it like living so far away from your family?” It really hurts, and I miss them, and there are moments like these I especially wish my mum were here. BUT GOD!
God is real.
God is good.

That truth has left me with some food for thought, and crucial questions for how to deal with these feelings moving forward. What emotions do we tend to strive to not acknowledge or feel? And how can coming to a place of acknowledging them actually set us free?

We all have fears and worries. But bringing God into those fears can change everything, and He can show you the truth of His love in any situation. Learn practical ways to pray through and deal with your fears and anxieties on Saturday, April 8, 2017, at FHI’s Freedom From Fear seminar. 

You can register today at

Questions? Contact us at

Learning to Wait on the Lord

Learning to Wait on the Lord

Written by Jessie Mejias, FHI Founder and Director 

For many years, my sister worked for a major airline. As a result, I have been able to fly to different places across the globe, many times in first class, at a greatly reduced cost.

wait at airportThere’s just one hitch: I have to “stand by”—that is, wait for the availability of seats.

I have to admit, there have been times I’ve opted to buy a full-fare ticket rather than experience the anticipation of waiting for a spot. However, when I have waited, I’ve often been rewarded with a comfortable, roomy seat, and the special treatment that goes along with traveling in first class.

We don’t always find the idea of waiting so appealing. Fast food, instant credit, TV on demand, and streaming media, for example, are all so readily available. Waiting seems entirely passive. If I am waiting, I’m not doing something, not accomplishing anything. Time is passing, and time is money. It’s almost as if we are afraid to wait – afraid to not manipulate the outcomes to just what we think they should be.

But God sees great value in waiting, and especially in waiting on Him.

That’s because, to Him, waiting is action. “Wait on the Lord” is every bit as much a commandment as “Go and make disciples.” As it’s said in Hebrews, the faithful learn to wait, and in waiting, they know true rest and true faith.

When we don’t see anything happening, it is so tempting to take matters into our own hands and make changes out of our own strength. But waiting is an active pursuit of the Lord – it’s not passive at all! It’s a lot like being led through a dark place by someone holding a lamp. Without that lamp, you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face, much less your next step! But, even though you need its light, because you don’t hold the lamp, you have to trust its holder to guide you to your destination.

Waiting is following — it is allowing yourself to be several steps behind the One leading you, keeping your eyes on Him for direction, and never losing sight of Him. It’s a true act of faith.

When we wait on the Lord to fulfill a promise, we are active as we hope, anticipate, look for, and expect Him to do what He has said He will do. We’re also not as likely to go ahead of Him if we are waiting. Our motives are purified, and our faith strengthened, when we wait.

We get to let go of the fear of not having control, and find instead the experience of a joyously unexpected journey.

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed

That I would see the goodness of the LORD

In the land of the living.

Wait on the LORD;

Be of good courage,

And He shall strengthen your heart;

Wait, I say, on the LORD! Psalm 27:13-14 (NKJV)

Ready to learn more strategies for overcoming fear? Sign up for our Freedom From Fear seminar on Saturday, April 8, 2017! You can learn more and register at Contact us with questions at

Inner Treasures

Inner Treasures

Written by Megan Pierce, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

2 Corinthians 4:7

molding clayLast Sunday, we had our last day of the class Unashamed, a five-week women’s group study on identifying shame in our lives and living from a place of freedom instead.

Walking in freedom is easier said than done, but it is completely possible when we do it in community and have our eyes fixed on Jesus.

It’s in Christ that we find the truth of our identities. That truth is what we have to cling to so we can come to know and understand who we really are. But we also need other people to help point out that truth – especially when we cannot see it for ourselves.jars of clay

That’s why, for the last week of class, the ladies sculpted clay jars, and wrote encouraging truths to put inside the jars. This was to help each of them remember that, though we are all imperfect jars of clay, we are also the beloved of God. We have been bought at a price; we are adopted, redeemed, and sanctified; and there are great treasures within us all.

Want to make a class like this part of your own journey to freedom? It takes just a few steps:

  1. Explore our curriculum, and read about Women of Freedom: Unashamed.
  2. Find a group interested in taking the class with you.
  3. Follow up with us at to get started.

4 Keys to Hearing God’s Voice: Men’s Class in Richmond, VA

4 Keys to Hearing God’s Voice: Men’s Class in Richmond, VA

mens groupLearn how to hear God speaking into your life, and to recognize His voice above everything else. FHI’s first-ever men’s group will begin with the 10-week class 4 Keys to Hearing God’s Voice. Students will learn how to discern what God is saying to them individually, and how to engage in spiritually deep dialogue with Him!

4 Keys to Hearing God’s Voice Men’s Class
Wednesdays from March 22 – May 24, 2017
6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Led by Joshua Grice and Bobby Vickers
Location: 1405 Oakwood Ave., Richmond, VA 23223
Cost: General Registration – $30; At the door – $40

Contact facilitator Joshua Grice to learn more at

To register now via PayPal, click here.

Six Tips for Living Out Agape Love

Six Tips for Living Out Agape Love

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)

agape loveWhen I was in elementary school, my teacher once asked the class to name the titles of the latest top ten songs. As we did so, we quickly discovered that the topic of each song was love.

Love is on everyone’s mind, and yet the love that is most often depicted in song and cinema is not what Jesus referred to when He told us to “love one another” (John 13:34).

Usually, the love that we see idealized on stage and screen is what the Greek language refers to as eros – that is, lust, or physical love. Eros is just one of four Greek words used to convey what love is. The other three are storge, which denotes affection; philia, which is friendship; and agape, which means charity.

This last love, agape, is the God kind of love – the love that wants what is highest and best for the other person. This love is endless and unconditional. Storge, philia, and eros may ebb and flow, but it is agape love that endures.

This is the love Paul wrote about in 1 Corinthians 13. It is this love that compelled Jesus to die on the cross for us.

Living Out God’s Love

For those of you who have sought to be filled by anything less than agape, my prayer is that you may experience God’s love to such a degree that you will reflect it in your daily walk. As you do so, lives will be changed!

What does it feel like to experience this kind of love? What does this kind of love look like? One practical way to start understanding the nature of God’s undying agape for us is exploring what He says about it. In 1 Corinthians 13, we can see what it is, and likewise what it is not.

His love is patient and kind.

It is not envious, boastful, proud, rude, selfish, touchy, or unforgiving.

Where do you see patience and kindness in your relationships? How can you start to live these out, and in so doing experience God’s love?

Expressing Your Agape Love For Others

Because agape, in essence, is the willingness to give, giving is a huge part of loving others. Expressing your love in a spirit of patience and kindness can be done in so many simple ways. Here are a few tips for expressing agape to the ones you love.

  1. The gift of a note. It can be as simple as “I love you,” or as creative as a sonnet. Put your notes where they will surprise your loved ones.
  1. The gift of laughter. Cut out a cartoon, or save a clever article for a friend or family member. This kind of gift will say, “I love to laugh with you!”
  1. The gift of a compliment. Noticing the little things – “you always look so good in blue!” or “you made such a wonderful dinner tonight,” – can have great value to people who may feel taken for granted.
  1. The gift of a favor. You could volunteer to help with the dishes, or to run an errand. An unexpected full tank of gas in the car can also be a welcome surprise!
  1. The gift of a cheerful disposition. Being intentional about greeting those you love with joy is a way of living out patience and kindness, and makes them feel welcome and cared for.
  1. The gift of prayer. Continually pray for your loved ones, and be sure to let them know you pray for them.

Further Steps For Walking in Love

Knowing and living out this kind of love can be life-changing! To continue learning about agape and what it could look like in your life, explore these recommended reads:

Prayer counseling can also help you learn to fully love God and others. To find out how, check out Prayer Counseling and the Freedom to Love, or make a prayer counseling appointment with Finding Home Institute. You can email us at (preferred) or call (571) 393-1278, and will receive a response in no later than 1 business day.

Book Review: “Why Good People Mess Up”

Book Review: “Why Good People Mess Up,” by John Loren Sandford of Elijah House Ministries

Review written by Sherika Chew, Prayer Ministry Intern

Why Good People Mess Up, by John Loren Sandford of Elijah House Ministries, is a treatise on sexual temptation – how and why Christians are drawn into it, and how we can learn to forgive and live differently when it happens. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who desired to be used by God as a prayer minister. After reading it, I felt much more confident that I could adequately minister to someone who was battling sexual sins, or was hindered in his or her walk with Christ because of the inherent condemnation that couples this experience. By helping me to see and receive the grace that God has been trying so persistently to impart to me, this book has given legs to my own testimony, and I am excited and empowered to help others grab hold of transformation and freedom for themselves.

The premise of the book, in short, is that sexual sin happens not because we are “screw-ups” who can’t follow God correctly, but because the enemy seeks to use our hurts and disappointments in relationships to turn away away from God.

Most, if not all the symptoms of sexual sins that were described in this book are deep seated in selfishness and pity, which leads me to believe that if we kept our eyes and minds on the heart of Christ and sought his will above our own comfort, it would be almost impossible to fall into these sins. The lie that leads to falling into this sin is the whole “I deserve” gospel and the desire to put our own happiness above anythingwhy good people mess up else. It is truly a trick of the enemy!

There is a holy indignation that rises within me to not only no longer allow the enemy to have these points of access in my life, but also to do everything in my power to make sure he doesn’t gain this access in others. I have an all-new perspective on these things and have come to see the dangers of a victim mentality. God is seeking these very same points of access into our hearts, but we will not allow him in if we are stuck in “why me” mode.

Why Good People Mess Up is a book I would keep on my bookshelf so that I could refer to it easily and often when ministering. I don’t believe that it is possible to get a full grasp of all the information in just one reading. Though there was one concept that did really stick out to me that I don’t think I will easily forget. I have often heard of the importance of transparency in ministry. This book shed new light on that for me. I have always felt that if I was honest about my own failings and how God was working in through me, then I was being transparent. I would definitely say that the goal was that people would walk away seeing Jesus, but allowing people to see the “real me” doesn’t necessarily ensure they will see Jesus.

The author described transparency in such a way that made me see that, most times, my honesty was translucent, but not transparent. It made me go to my dictionary. Transparent is defined as allowing light to pass through so that objects behind can be distinctly seen. Translucent is defined allowing light to pass through but diffusing it so that objects on the other side are not clearly visible.

I chewed on this for a while, pondering the number of times my testimony had been so clouded with how I felt, what I wanted, and how I overcame obstacles, that people walked away thinking, “Sherika is such a mighty woman of God!” Those times, they should have walked away saying, “Sherika serves a mighty God!”

I am not, nor do I feel the author was condemning the honesty and vulnerability it requires to allow others to see into our lives. The lesson here is, at the end of the day, we need to be intentional about seeing that the “self” is not blocking others’ view of Jesus. Do we allow light to easily pass through us so that Jesus is clearly seen?

My prayer is: Lord, make me a spotless window into your kingdom, and pass your light in and through me to your people. Be seen in me!

Strategies for Freedom: Stop Comparing

Stop Comparing

Archer And TargetOne of the greatest hindrances to being an overcomer in Christ is comparison. When we look at what others have and compare, we tend to see ourselves as lacking, and lose gratitude for the good that is already ours.

Comparison, of course can creep up in areas beyond money and financial status. It extends to all of the things to which we feel we are entitled, such as success, prestige, and influence. It even affects those of us who are in full-time ministry!

Case in point: A few years ago, I started becoming preoccupied with how my ministry measured up compared to other, similar ministries. Consistently, I saw myself coming up short. Instead of focusing on the bountiful things that God had already done in and through me, when I looked at what I was holding in my hands, I deemed it meager, scant, and inadequate – compared to what others had.

And that was the problem. I had my eyes on others and what they had, rather than on God and my own situation. Comparing myself to others had caused me to fall into the trap of discontentment.

Realizations from Healing Prayer in Richmond VA

In 1 Timothy 6:6, the Apostle Paul says, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain” (NKJV).

The word “contentment” in this verse is the Greek word “autarkeia,” which means:

  • A perfect condition of life in which no aid or support is needed
  • Sufficiency of the necessities of life
  • A mind contented with its lot, contentment

That same Greek word is translated as “sufficiency” in 2 Corinthians 9:8: “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (KJV).

Jesus Christ paid an enormous price to give us “everything we need for a godly life” (2 Peter 1:3, emphasis mine).

I began to recognize that, when I chose to compare myself to others, I was not walking in the fullness of life that Jesus intended for me to have!

When the Holy Spirit convicted me of my ingratitude—because ingratitude is at the core of all discontent—I asked the Lord to forgive me for my envy, jealousy and anger, and for comparing myself to others instead of being content to do what He had called me to do. This also meant I needed to forgive anyone in my life who didn’t seem to value what I had to offer, or who had not responded to my invitations to get to know me better and to celebrate key life events with me.

As I repented for my attitude of discontent and jealousy and received the Lord’s forgiveness, I felt like He was washing me clean of black gunk and dirt that had stuck to me through this sin.

Then He showed me a picture of what a life without comparison could look like:

I have a bow and arrow in my hand and I am in field of competitors. I aim, and I hit the bulls-eye. I aim again, but the second time, I do not hit the bulls-eye. I look around but cannot see if the other people in the field are hitting their bulls-eyes or not. The Lord is standing behind my bulls-eye and looking at me approvingly. All of a sudden, hedges arise on either side of me. It is now impossible to see the other people who are shooting at bulls-eyes. I am in a field of my own. And I have an audience of one.

As I brought envy and self-comparison to death on the cross, I saw myself laying down a spyglass at the foot of the cross. In exchange, the Lord gave me blinders so that I could only look straight ahead.

My response was simple:
Thank you, Lord. Please help me to walk with blinders when it comes to comparisons. Help me to keep my eyes only on you and the bulls-eye.

Finding Contentment through Healing Prayer in Richmond VA

When we compare ourselves to others, we fuel envy, jealousy, and even anger in our hearts. Becoming discontented, we fail to see ourselves as God sees us. We find ourselves constantly competing with others and yet always seeming to come up wanting because we have lost sight of God, and therefore His truth about who we are.

Consider this admonishment that the Lord gave me that day:
Seek first the kingdom, for in my kingdom is joy and pleasures forever. Take your eyes off of what you don’t have and put them on what you do.

If you would like to stop comparing yourself to others, here are three simple steps to help you get started:

  1. Confess and repent of the sins of jealousy, envy and discontent.
  2. Forgive those in your present and in your past who caused you to feel inferior.
  3. Ask God to reveal His truth to you about how He sees you and then ask Him to help you to keep that focus.

Though it’s a process, through the Holy Spirit’s guidance, I believe we may learn to be truly content.

Contact FHI for Healing Prayer in Richmond VA

If you need help praying through jealousy, envy or discontent, we are here to help. You can make your prayer counseling appointment for healing prayer in Richmond VA with Finding Home Institute. Email us at (preferred) or call (571) 393-1278. We will respond in no later than 1 business day.

All “Strategies for Freedom” Posts

To help you on your journey:
1: Letting Go
2: Giving Thanks
3: Stop Comparing

Giving God Your “Yes”

Giving God Your “Yes”

luke verse on mary prayer counselingAdvent is a time when we recognize the gift of Jesus Christ. But consider another gift born of this season: that of an opportunity.

“And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’”
Luke 1:38

Mary believed the Messiah was coming, but it wasn’t until she was told that she would be the mother of the Savior that she was given a unique, powerful opportunity for her faith to be tested, and for her trust in God to blossom.

Trust is something slow-growing. Deep, rooted trust in God results from a series of faithful yeses to Him, by which His provision and plan can unfold, however slowly or swiftly.

Mary’s faith is something we deeply admire, especially during this season. What is so moving about her faith, though, is the action it required.

When the angel Gabriel came to Mary, she was not without questions. In Luke 1, it’s written that “she was greatly troubled,” at first, at being called “favored.” And she asked, when told she would conceive and bear a son, how that was possible, seeing as she was a virgin. There was discernment there – a desire to know that this was truly God’s intention coming to light.

It’s important to remember that Mary so openly revealed her reservations. It’s strange territory for all us of, as it was for her, to be in the space between the knowledge of what God wants, and the feelings that rise up as a result. Fear, uncertainty, doubt – even excitement. It’s okay to feel all of these emotions at one time.

It’s especially okay to feel excitement, because oftentimes, what God call us to is what we have deeply desired for ourselves all along. He has given us all such potential, and planted the seeds of dreams and goals and purpose.

But trust, like those dreams coming to fruition, is slow-growing. Trust comes from consistent acts of faith, big and small. Sometimes there are questions like Mary’s – probing ones, to make sure this is the right path. There’s nothing wrong with that; in prayer counseling, this is all part of finding God’s purpose for you. But the first act of faith is that of saying “yes” to God, and to His call for you.

Choices are Faith in Action

I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be to me. Mary didn’t have to say these words to God. Though was not in the nature of Mary’s character to refuse – which God certainly must have considered – she had the ability to choose to do so. She could have chosen to stay deeply troubled at such a request that would affect her reputation – not to mention, her family’s, her fiancé’s, and that of his family, too – and the rest of her life.

But our ability to choose is valuable to God. And as an act of her faith in and love for Him, Mary responded to God’s call with a wholehearted “yes.”

Imagine what release and apprehension there must have been in her spirit then. What excitement, and curiosity. And above all, what deep peace, and freedom, at finding that sweet spot – an alignment between God’s intentions and her actions.

When God wants your “yes,” it feels like this. Where you have the opportunity to serve Him, you also have the opportunity to find freedom that transcends your circumstances and status.

Prayer Counseling and Saying Yes to God

This season, as we move into a new year, there are new opportunities before each of us to allow more of God’s presence and purpose in our lives. Seeking prayer counseling to fully understand your purpose, your calling, and your journey could be part of it. Where in your journey is God just waiting for your “yes”? What can you allow Him to give you by taking a step of faith?

More on this topic:

Trust vs. Faith – how can prayer counseling help you trust God more deeply?

Finding God’s Purpose For You Through Prayer Counseling

At the River

At the River

Thoughts on Depending on God and Letting Jesus Lead

at the riverWhen I tune into vision while in prayer, Jesus often meets me at a river. Off in the distance, I can see bright green grassy hills, and on the edge of the shore, there is always a crowd of people that I am very aware of. When I first learned this technique of meeting and listening to Jesus, it seemed the crowd of people was the most important part of the vision for me. I wanted to be with them, to be seen by them, for them to approve of me. It was very difficult to follow Jesus and sit alone with Him.

My question for Him was almost always to the effect of: How long do I have to sit here before I am healed enough to relate to those people the way you want me to? How long before I can go back among them and be who I really am?

But Jesus wasn’t at all interested in answering any questions of time–He just wanted my company. He would sit on the edge of the shore swinging His feet in the water.

Initially, I found this very frustrating. The longer I sat with Jesus, the more aware I became of my own insecurities. I feared that people would forget me if I was not always “present,” always “on.” I tried to explain to Jesus how much people needed to be able to rely on me, and that I had commitments I needed to fulfill.

Instead of depending on God, I was trying to disguise my fears with dependability.

Many times, I tried to walk away from the shore, yet Jesus would get up to follow me. He was always with me wherever I decided I wanted to be. But deep down I knew something was wrong with this. Something was clearly wrong when Jesus was following me: I just couldn’t justify being in the lead.

Letting Jesus Take the Lead

We all want to be able to say that Jesus is Lord of our lives and that we are completely surrendered to His will. This whole idea of Him following me challenged that belief in so many ways, and made me feel rebellious and stubborn. So I would try to stay in step with Him, so that I could at least say I was walking with Him. I thought I could have peace with that.  And maybe in years past, I would have.

But the more I experience inner healing and allow Jesus to dismantle my negative belief system, the harder it is to ignore His voice, and the easier it is to hear His heart even when He isn’t speaking. Maybe there would come a time when it was perfectly acceptable to walk side by side with Jesus along the river bank, but for me, it was definitely not time yet. Because I wasn’t really walking with Him. That was all for show. In my heart, I was still leading.

I could feel Him tugging at me, calling me away to sit with Him on the shore. I really didn’t mind being with Him. I didn’t necessarily mind the sitting. Every time I decided to be obedient and sit with Him, He would reveal some invaluable truth to me or heal a very broken space in my heart. It was always a very peaceful, liberating space. I would always come out of my prayer and journaling time feeling refreshed and renewed.

Even so, I found the length of time this took to be extremely frustrating. Am I not healed yet? I wondered, as He sat peacefully. Are we not done? Can we go now!? Obviously, Jesus didn’t understand how important it was that I be with the crowd along the shore that I could still see.  I mean, what good is a relationship with Jesus if other people can’t see it, right? I needed Him to walk with me so other people could see us together and know how important and special I was.

Yet the longer I sat with Jesus, the more real it became to me that people didn’t necessarily need me as much as I thought they did–or, if I was honest, as much I really needed them to. This wrecked my sense of identity, and I hated it!

Sitting there with Him was soon not enough: He wanted me to focus on Him and not be aware of the crowd at all! He wanted to be enough even if no one else existed. He showed me that I had made people my everything, and He had become just an accessory to my life. He wanted to reverse that for me.

The process of finally surrendering was emotional. I had to face all the empty spaces in my heart that were left vacant when people pleasing was no longer an option. It forced me to have to look into the eyes of Jesus to figure out who I really was.

This was a really scary thought for someone who spent most of her life believing Jesus couldn’t possibly really love her for real. But Jesus was loving and patient. And on the days that I couldn’t bear to look Him in the face because I was so overcome with shame that I would bow my head and stare at the ground, He would get down on His knees and look up at me. He would stare into me with a love so piercing, as if to say, “I am here and I am enough and you are enough. You don’t need anything or anyone else to make you whole, to make you….you. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. I am madly in love with you.”

Depending on God to Break Down Walls

This relentless love was wrecking my theology and breaking down all the walls I built to protect myself. But somehow, I was no longer afraid. Jesus, somehow, being the infinitely loving gentleman that He is, found a way to completely dismantle my entire belief system, the foundation on which I built my whole life and based all my decisions, brick by brick.  And, despite all my preconceived notions of Him and how this process would turn out, I was not destroyed. He strategically replaced each core lie that I had believed with a new truth.

These days, I have no problem sitting on the river bank with Jesus, swinging my feet in the water. In a world where there is so much malice and hatred attempting to attack our identities, day in and day out, there is just nothing more freeing than being daily reminded of who I am by the King of the universe! Who–get this–delights to sit with little old me. Imagine that!

Lately, it is not uncommon for me to meet Jesus and find that we are no longer sitting on the shore. I see Him standing waist-deep in the water, and I am completely submerged. I notice, though, that my hair always still seems to float on the water. No matter how deep I dive down into the water, I still feel like I am right next to him and my hair is still visible above the water. It is almost as if the deeper I go, the longer my hair gets. I see him still above the water, running His fingers through my hair, removing debris, untangling it. He is very intentional about it. I asked Him one day: what does this mean? Why is my hair so long and prominent in this scene?

He said, “Your hair is your glory. I am restoring you to your former glory.” I realized in this moment that the crowd along the shore could no longer see me at all. If they looked at me or for me, all they could see was Jesus and my hair floating above the water. He said  “I am making it so when they see you, they only see Me and My glory in your life.” In that moment, I was okay with that. All of a sudden, it was enough. I don’t need to be seen and known by man. I don’t need to be validated by his opinions or his thoughts of me. I am seen and known deeply by my Father in heaven and that is more than enough!

Written by Sherika Chew, Prayer Ministry Intern. She is excited to use her gifts in this new role to introduce churches and ministries in her hometown of Richmond, Virginia, to the benefits of prayer ministry. Her hope is for the body of Christ in her community to start making prayer ministry a part of their everyday spiritual disciplines. To learn more about Sherika, click here!

Prayer Counseling and the Freedom to Love

How Does Prayer Counseling Help Us to Love God and Others?

“Which is the first commandment of all?” And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:28b-31 NKJV

freedom friendshipLove God. Love others. This is the commandment that Jesus gave to His disciples, both then and now. Jesus also said that if we loved God we would obey His commandments. John 14:15, 21. What keeps us from truly loving God, and, as a consequence, others?

The answer lies with this question: how hard can it be to love God? It would seem natural that our response to the gift of salvation would be devotion to the One that made the way for us to receive new life.

Yet it isn’t always as easy as just saying the words “I love you, God.” Those words ring hollow for those who have never truly tasted the sweetness of God’s love. How can someone who has never felt the warmth of God’s affection respond in kind to a loving Father?

We can also say, “I love my fellow man” yet never truly be an extension of God’s love in this world. Those words carry no weight unless accompanied by real acts of love. How can someone who is not full to overflowing with the compassion and grace that fills God’s heart pass it on to others?

Free to Be Vessels of His Love

As disciples, it is vital that we have an experiential knowledge of the love of God, so that we ourselves brim over with the kindness, affection and unconditional acceptance of God and are not just “points of light” to others but, more importantly, “points of love.”

How can we go from knowing about God’s love to knowing God’s love?

We love Him because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19, NKJV)

Ever since I can remember I have always loved babies. I can only think of a few rare occasions when I met a child who didn’t like me back. When I meet a small child for the first time my instinct is to just grab him and hug him but I have learned over time to give the child time to get used to me before I do the full court press. Sometimes that takes longer than other times but invariably I end up holding him and loving on him. The comments I often hear range from “he never lets anyone he doesn’t know hold him” to “he’s so comfortable with you!” When people ask me why children seem to like me, my response is always the same: they feel the love.

When it comes to loving God we are just like little children: our love for God is a direct response to His love for us. Like babies, we were created to be natural sponges for the love of our Father in heaven. The more we experience His love, the more we love Him.

But how many of us are like the babies who resist being held? Or worse yet, how many more of us have hearts that are actually filled with fear? Fear and love cannot inhabit the same space. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18, NKJV) We fear because we have never truly experienced the love of God in our hearts. We only have a head knowledge of the love of God rather than a heartknowledge. Instead of being open, our hearts are closed off and we cannot receive the love God is pouring out on us.

In childhood we are meant to receive the nurture and love from our parents that will enable us to keep our hearts open to God and to others. In his book, The Five Love Languages of Children, Gary Chapman calls this “filling our love tank.” When our love tank is full we learn to trust, and we do not to have to hide, or flee in fear. However, when our primary caregivers fail to meet our need for love in real or perceived ways, like flowers that do not bloom, our hearts do not open up and we have less capacity to love. This impedes our ability to receive God’s love.

It also hinders us from loving others. In their book Letting Go of Your Past, John and Paula Sandford write: “When we do not have a functioning spirit filled with love, we cannot care how our brother feels, nor do we feel bad if we happen to be the one who causes him harm.”

Prayer counseling is one way for this deficit to be remedied.

Finding Freedom through Prayer Counseling

Being healed through prayer counseling deals with the wounds of childhood that caused us to close our hearts. The truth strips away the poor substitutes for love that we have clung to over the years. For the first time perhaps, we can see ourselves seated in the lap of our loving Father in heaven, and allow Him to give us the nurture we so desperately need. Our hearts begin to open up to receive. We are like a glass full of dirty water into which clean water is being poured until all the dirt is displaced. The cup fills and overflows with clean, pure, water—love—and now it becomes natural to love in turn.

Through prayer for healing, dialogue with God, and the unconditional acceptance of the prayer minister, God reveals His love in ways that are meaningful to each individual.

This is what God showed one counselee:

“[God’s love is like a] powerful sea with powerful waves. You can’t wade in and push it away or stop it. You can try and fight the current, [but] it is like the love of God that rolls right over you and covers you. There is no sin, nothing about you, that can stop that sea rolling over you.”

When we experience God’s love, fear is displaced, our hearts are enlarged and we are able to love God in return. When we know what it is to receive His love with no strings attached, we can love others in the same way. It is then that we are truly able to obey Jesus’ command to love God and one another.

Ready to start your own journey to freedom? Make your prayer counseling appointment with Finding Home Institute today. Email us at (preferred) or call (571) 393-1278. You will receive a response in no later than 1 business day.