How are we to know who God is, who we are, and who others are if we're not familiar with the voice of the Father? How are we to understand how to join Him in His reconciling work here and now if we don't know what He's saying to us? In a new Circle launching on Feb. 15 & 16 and guided by Melissa Anderson & Alison Knox, we'll explore these questions and others and be equipped with a practical tool to help us listen for the Father's voice. Below, Melissa reflects a bit on her own journey of listening.
As a little girl, we had an exchange. I’d sing to Him as I looked into the sky and I’d feel Him smiling back through the warmth of the sun on my face. I honestly remember feeling Him, knowing Him, hearing Him, loving Him as young as four. What I had with Jesus was sweet, it was simple and it was true.
By the time I was ten, I had endured years of shame, fear, control and abuse in a household that claimed Jesus as their Lord. We would dress in our best for church every Sunday and after a morning of violence, in we would file. My parents would teach, lead and serve as elders and my siblings and I learned to play the part of, ‘happy family’. I was bitter. I was angry and I was done singing.
Religion was a game I played. I knew all the rules, asked no questions, knew who was in charge and how to look just fine, all the time. No one knew the dark, angry girl I was. I laughed at the existance of God and hated the church. By the age of fifteen, I had already decided that I wanted to take my own life. I still hid very well and not a soul knew.
The summer before I turned sixteen, waiting for the right time to go through with my plan, I was forced to go to a summer camp with a group of teens and Youth Pastor I did not even know. This was not your typical summer camp. They didn’t have normal campfire, or ‘cabin’ time to share a bible verse or, two. We had church! The Pastor would preach and the kids would worship, really worship; hands raised and all! They spoke in tongues and answered altar calls! This was all a bit overwhelming as at this point I did not even acknowledge God’s existence. However, each night I experienced things as I clung to my seat, that I could not explain. After several nights of this, I was clinging particularly hard as I tried to resist walking up to the front of the room where the Youth Pastor stood. It was in vain. I remember not knowing how I had gotten up there as I looked into the Pastor’s eyes. He began to recite my life story and he told me that God did not want me to go through with my plan to end my life. He somehow knew all that I was ashamed of and yet, he also knew that Jesus just wanted to be close to ME. It was then that the words reached my heart and washed over me like nothing I had ever known before. I saw my first vision that night. It was simple and sweet and true. I saw Jesus and I, hand in hand, skipping rocks on the lake, walking and talking together as friends.
Walking out of the room that night, I knew two things; someone who was able to hear God’s voice saved my life and that that same God loved ME. Those two things changed the course of my life forever.
I was absolutely enchanted by the thought of being as intimate with Jesus as He suggested in that vision and I wanted to be able to touch someone as I had been and possibly save a life. I immediately began a journey of learning to listen. I studied, I was mentored, taught, and challenged in this practice and I was given tremendous tools. I am passionate about promoting Intimacy with Jesus and sharing what I have learned with anyone who asks.
The tool that has been by far, the simplest, most tangible and easy to replicate has been the one I will be sharing on February 15th and 16th. I continue to experience God's transformative Love through this regular practice. The first day of the workshop, I will share with you a bit more of my listening journey and help activate you in this practice. On day two, using this practice, we will begin to dip our toes into capturing His heart for the ones around us and sharing what we receive with the utmost honor, Love and respect.