I feel like I need to ask your prayers for myself this time. I need prayer specifically to learn (again) how to REST in the Father.
A couple of years before I came to Honduras, I was blessed to receive hours of prayer and ministry from my pastor and some ladies who were filled with wisdom and the Spirit to break down strongholds in my life that had been there since I was a child. During the months of counseling and ministry, there was a “wall” that seemed to be blocking me from entering into real freedom. I prayed more and read my Bible more — hours at a time — but couldn’t understand why I couldn’t really walk into complete freedom and sense the intimacy I wanted to have with my Heavenly Father. When I went to Pastor Wade’s office one afternoon, I just asked him, “So when am I going to stop wanting to die?” Hejust began to pray for me from behind my desk and I curled up on the loveseat across the room, and as he prayed the Lord gave me a vision. I had never had a vision and didn’t really understand how much it is a true reality and you feel everything as if you are actually living it. I was a huge black cave and was hiding behind big rocks. I could see light out towards the entrance of the cave but was too afraid to leave my hiding place. I sensed demons hiding with me and as much as I feared staying in the dark with them, I feared more coming out into the light and TRUSTING the Father. I don’t know exactly how but right in that moment, I knew that the stronghold that was keeping me back was CONTROL. I don’t know how much literal time passed by but it seemed like hours while I tried to come out and then would run back again. All of a sudden from out of my vision, I heard Pastor Wade say, “Holy Spirit, bring her out!” It was at that moment, I sensed this opaque hand reaching out for me. I struggled but took it, thinking that if I stay in this cave with these demons, I’m going to die!” As I took His hand he led me to the entrance of the cave where I looked and saw Jesus there with bright light coming out from him. I remember being so embarrassed that I had been hiding in a cave with demons trying to protect myself when he was there all the time just waiting for me to walk out — and I felt so stupid! But as I looked across to Jesus, I suddenly saw that the cave was actually on a high cliff and there was a wide gap between the entrance of the cave and where Jesus was standing. He just looked at me — no expression and I waited and waited. Finally, I looked at him and said, “You’re going to make me jump to you, aren’t you? You’re going to make me do this!” I was so angry and debated what to do — run back into the cave and die there in the darkness or jump — either way I might die. I finally just counted to three and threw myself to him. He didn’t grab me in his arms and scoop me up and just left me hanging there over the abyss. Not only did he not support me but he then started wrenching loose each of my fingers one by one and as He did, more and more anger rose up in me — I screamed at Him — I KNEW I could not trust you!” After this release of anger and desperation and fury at Him, He gently took me and turned me around so that my back was in his chest, but he didn’t take me away from the dark abyss below me. I kept grabbing his robe behind me with my hands and he would take them and put them back in front of me, but I was terrified that I would fall to my death so I would reach back and grab his robe behind me to support myself and he would again return them in front of me. I don’t know how long this battle went on of me fighting to take care of myself and him resisting but finally, he whispered into my ear, “Rhonda you cannot take care of yourself you have to trust ME.” And then I started little by little resting my weight back against him and finally found myself resting in his arms without restraint and without holding on to him. That rest was the most incredible feeling I think I have ever had in my life.
When I opened my eyes, it was dark outside the windows and Pastor Wade was still across the room praying for me. Several hours had passed by and God had broken down the stronghold that was so subtly holding me back from freedom — it was control and self sufficiency and self protection. I had been hurt so much in the past and had learned not to cry and not to trust others and to always take care of myself and didn’t know how to break that wall down. But He did it that day by forcing me to admit that I did not trust Him. It had been bothering me as I had been listening to the book of John on CD in my car recently where after Jesus was resurrected, he told Mary in the garden “Do not hold on to me.” I thought that was horribly rude since she had suffered the hurt of seeing him die and losing her best friend and then he tells her not to hold on to him. I think now that she was going to try to control him so she would not be hurt again and not let him out of her sight! This is a really hard thing for me and habits form all our lives of self sufficiency and control when we are not aware that we are operating in that mindset.
I decided to share this with you all today because I think I have gone back into this habit and it is costing me my peace and my joy and my REST!! I have continual neck and back stress and the Father revealed to me that I am back there with that lack of intimacy because I am trying to be strong so I won’t be hurt. This does not work and it is not His design for us. I have lost children and been gossiped about and criticized and felt too much burden at times with 300 kids to feed every day, etc. But I have also lost my intimacy because I am protecting myself and hiding from Him so I don’t have to be vulnerable and cry. I remember Sweet Annie crying in my ministry sessions because I could not cry, afraid that if I started, I would never be able to stop. It is really hard for me to share this today but I think I am supposed to — not only so that you will pray for me and God will break down this stronghold of control that has creeped back in, but also I hope that it will help all of you to check to see where you may be trusting yourself and don’t know how to truly completely SURRENDER and REST!
Thank you for being those prayer warriors for me. I may start crying more this week and will not try to stop it — from the death of my parents and loss of several children and the hurt of having to reject children in need at our school, and hurts inflicted by other hurting people — it is time that I rest in those strong arms of Jesus again and take my hands off!!!
Love in His grace,