I have been in a time of reflection lately as I prepare to transition away from Vancouver. My time here has been filled with challenges but also with rewards. While we each have our own journey, my wish is that by sharing a snippet of my story, some of it will resonate with you and encourage or challenge you in your own journey and growth in the Spirit. For any who are struggling, my desire for you is to find hope in the transformative power and grace of walking with the Lord.
I arrived in Vancouver at a difficult time in my spiritual walk. Before I delve in, let me set the stage a little. I grew up in a traditional liturgical church and my family was well ingrained in it. However, I decided to explore my faith further and began attending different churches . In obedience to the Lord, I made decisions that became the basis of many difficult arguments with some of my close family members. In a sense, I was led to choose between obeying my family or following the path God had laid before me. Right at the peak of conflict, I moved to Vancouver. I began this chapter of my life in a place of deep confusion and pain. I was feeling overwhelmed and wandered aimlessly for a while. I couldn't see what God was doing, I couldn't feel Him in my life and couldn't receive His guidance - at least I thought so at the time.
Even though I didn't "feel" His guidance, the Lord led me to our church in the midst of my brokenness, though I proceeded cautiously at first. As I took in teachings, many new to me, and surrounded myself with community (joined an Oikos), I began to sense His presence again and the weight of my emotions lightened. I remember one sermon in particular that really hit home. Tim spoke about the cycle or stages of faith, including "the Wall." I was in tears as I released built-up emotions and recognized that I was stuck in and working through the biggest wall of my life. It was a powerful moment! By surrendering my pain to the Lord after hearing that sermon and in receiving prayer, my wall started to crumble, my walk became lighter, and I engaged more.
A big part of my journey included growing in my understanding of spiritual gifts. I knew little of spiritual gifts (although I had experienced speaking in tongues just previously), however, my Oikos often practiced listening prayer. At first, I mostly observed and I got to see how these gifts were used. I saw firsthand how the Lord spoke to different people in a personal and direct way. Eventually I participated (tentatively) and was surprised that the Lord blessed me by giving me images for others. A few people lately have been asking me about my gift of visions - you should know that it's been a fairly new gifting in my life and that you too can receive the gifts of the Spirit even if it's new to you (Joel 2: 28-29). The only requirement is that you be eager and open to what God has for you and that you seek opportunities to receive and practice. For me, it began in Oikos in conjunction with the laying on of hands. I would receive an image (at the time without interpretation but that developed along the way as I asked for clarity and understanding) and the image would press on my mind until I would release it and share it with the intended person. We may at times get it wrong, but I've learned that my role is to give the image, and it is then up to the person to receive it if it resonates with them and verify it against other godly sources as needed.
This is how God's gift of visions often works for me. I begin by quieting my mind, which usually gets in the way with doubts and questions. I do this with worship or silent prayer in tongues - I tune in to the Spirit and give Him space to come through. I then wait to receive, to see, hear or sense from the Spirit without urgency. I tend to connect most easily visually and so often receive pictures, but at times I may hear a word or sentence or just have a feeling. I've also learned to use this seeing in my private devotional time. I'll often picture myself in God's creation and/or in the presence of Christ as we spend time together. I am still early in the development of this gift but I believe I'll receive in greater measure as I continue on my journey. My wish is to use this gifting in my work with my patients.
At a time when I was struggling to sense His presence, the Spirit began to teach me how to "see". Time after time I was (and still am) amazed at how He would reveal Himself to me, that I could indeed see/hear/feel Him (even when my feelings would say otherwise) and at how He would use me. It hasn't always been smooth sailing ever since. There have been other hardships along the way. Still, in the midst of these, the Lord asked me to continue to seek opportunities to practice the gift I have received. I was led to join the prayer team. In the process, it became easier to cope with the hardships.
Looking back at the bigger picture, there have been many lessons that I didn't understand in the midst of it. I have learned that I can see/hear/feel Him even when my emotions mislead me to believe that I can't. And so can you, in your own gifting according to what the Lord has in store for you (1 Cor 12: 4-11). Not only can I see/hear/feel Him, but the Spirit has been teaching me how to hone in on receiving from Him. I also used to believe that I had to have my life sorted out before I could give or get involved. While I do strive to set my body, heart, mind, soul and spirit right (with Christ's guidance), I now know that this isn't a necessary condition to being used in my gifting. In fact, it is often by getting involved and stepping out in faith that the rest begins to fall into place. And, as difficult as these struggles have been, I now understand that the Lord had to bring me through the fire to shape and refine me, in various areas of my life. Now, at the end of this chapter, I am in a time of strengthening and preparation. While I don't know exactly what the next chapter will bring, I know most importantly that I have a strong foundation in Jesus Christ and He will bring me through it.
So, will you join me in discovering the ways that the Lord desires to reach out to each one of you and use you? Look to and focus on the Lord Jesus and He will reveal Himself more and more, even in the midst of difficult circumstances.
 Please know that this blog is not meant to be a commentary on church denominations, simply a telling of my own journey. While my church of origin provided me with the foundation to my faith, I became stagnant and the Lord led me to growth through a different church. My desire is for the Church to be unified through the love of Christ and for one another (1 Cor 1:10).
Janet has been a part of Redemption Church since it's early days. She is passionate about mental health, and when she's not busy researching or in-session, she loves to wander around the beaches of Vancouver. She also enjoys catching up with friends over tea or a meal.