Aslan and Me: My Story In This Story – More About C.S. Lewis

Here’s a story from C.S. Lewis that captured my attention yesterday. In its simplicity, there is a depth of revelation.

“Are you not thirsty?” said the Lion.
“I’m dying of thirst,” said Jill.
“Then drink,” said the Lion.
“May I-could I-would you mind going away while I do!” said Jill.
The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.

The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.
“Will you promise not to-do anything to me, if I do come?” said Jill.
“I make no promise,” said the Lion.
Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.

“Do you eat girls?” she said.
“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and me, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, not as if it was sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.
“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.

“They you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.
“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer.
“I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”
“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.
(Lewis, The Silver Chair, 17.)

1093249228_9cfdce9b84_zAt times, I’m like Jill. Are you?

This story resonates with every fiber of my being. Seeking to know Jesus, there are times and seasons that He orchestrates the narrative of my life so intricately to bring me face to face with Him.

I thirst to drink deeply of His presence leading me to His stream of life. There it is – but there He is, seeming to block my way to the very place He leads me. I can’t get to the stream unless I surrender to a greater, larger, deeper, multifaceted revelation of who He is. Up close at this moment, He is quite different. A lion of power, majesty and might, He stirs fear in me on every level.

Why is that? Have I, all this time, imagined Jesus to be something less than who He really is? Does my paradigm of life create a Jesus that is agreeable to my own limited understanding? I know a kind Jesus, a loving Jesus. Yes, He is all those qualities and more. A lamb that was slain, meek and gentle.

But standing before me is not the lamb, but the lion. It is the lion that stirs this fear in me. A lion that presents Himself in an unwavering stance, immovable.

He is not who I expected.

My heart is laid bare as I must choose to trust and surrender to get to the source of my thirst. Is He withholding from me? Playing some great trick on me?

Here goes my back and forth dialogue with Him.

“Can I trust you to be gentle and kind as I draw near? You won’t hurt me, right?” I ask.

His answer is still the same. “I make no promise.”

What kind of God is this?

I want to go forward but I wait a bit in case He changes His mind and opens up another way for me. That doesn’t happen because there is no way around this in this season.

Have I not said that I wanted to know Him? How did I actually think that would work out? Did I believe that He would bend to the imaginings of my own heart? Did I desire a God fashioned in my own image?

I believe I wanted a lamb but at this moment there is a lion.

It is time to get past myself, my own illusions about Jesus, created in my own mind.

What is my choice standing in this place? I am not backed into a corner forced to make a decision. Forced love is really no love. I am free walk forward or free to turn and run. His love for me remains with either choice.

He created this path for me because I cried out for more. I can’t go back now.

He is not a tame lion. If I did not know His love, I may just run or faint but I will do neither. I will enter this path and face this revelation head on.

I will trust, surrender and obey. There is no other way.

Debra

In Christ,
Debra

Rivers of Eden Ministry

This Is A Season of Realignment

Garris Elkins

This is a Season of Realignment

We have entered a season where some of you will have your lives and ministries realigned for greater impact. You are about to enter a new and unexplored future. A realigning must first take place before that future is experienced. This realignment will require a change of direction because the previous course would not bring you to the destination God has planned for your life. To experience the blessing and benefit of this realignment you will need to focus your efforts on a new and previously unseen horizon. This new horizon is where you will see the approaching manifestation of a fresh work of God’s Spirit.

Open RoadSome of the elements of this realignment will take place without your permission. You will simply be forced through circumstances beyond your control to align with a season of life you had never considered. This is where you will have the opportunity to live out Paul’s words to the Romans that tell us God can work out everything for our good – even in the middle of the whirlwind of a life-transition.

Because so much is happening that is unfamiliar you will want to control what is taking place. In His great love, God will not allow you to control this outcome. He is inviting you to a place of trust. This need to control is one reason why you are being realigned. God wants you to let go of your need to control every aspect of your life and return to the raw faith you once displayed when you relied on Him in a pure and childlike faith. You don’t need to have any of this figured out. Once this realignment is over it will make sense. Right now you simply need to know that God’s hand is on your life and He is leading you forward. You have nothing to fear.

DebraIn Christ, Debra

I would love to speak at your conference, gathering, church or home group. Contact me here, on Facebook or on Twitter. Enjoy reading about Rivers of Eden and the Timeline of our Life!

Present Moments, Future Promises – The Now & The Not Yet

Life is experienced within a divine tension between where I stand right now and where I want to be in the future, my not yet. Living in this tension is not always easy and sometimes in deep frustration I may want to escape from my own life. Over the past 10 years, while trying to build a ministry, I continually focused on my not yet times, discounting the beauty waiting to be revealed in the moments that were right before me.

This cost me friendships, unique life experiences that were right before me. But, I was driven, seeking a passionate pursuit of promises in my not yet future. Rather than waiting on God, enjoying the journey, I often disregarded my day, focusing ahead, in a hurry to get there. Looking back, I was filled with regret over what could have been that I simply did not see. There were moments hidden in my day to day that I bypassed looking for more important endeavors.

FlickrWhile I lived in Abu Dhabi, I focused on Finland. When I was in Finland, I focused on Abu Dhabi. When I was in the States close to my family, I was always thinking about something else. God revealed to me how often I was not in the moment. I was present but my mind was captivated by something else, always. I am very thankful that God does indeed redeem the time, making all things new, with fresh starts instead of false starts.

All along this journey, people kept giving me the same prophetic word, over and over, in various ways, through various people at various times.

Rest.

Debra, God says to rest.

Holy Spirit is teaching you to rest.

Those words became a thorn in my flesh because my flesh was concentrating on making ministry happen. I almost disdained that word – rest. Why? Because it hit my heart at a place I needed healing and I didn’t want to deal with it. It’s the same sad story for many of us. Trying to please God. Performing to prove ourselves to others and to God. Trying to win His approval. I’m sure many of you reading this can relate to this constant pursuit to be accepted by God for how you perform.

Little Guy With PostitsI wanted to build, to grow a ministry, to find my place in time, to access my destiny. Along the way, there were many false starts as you can read from the previous blog post. I lived looking ahead, constantly. When God finally saw fit to shut it all down, I struggled with rejection, feeling abandoned and deep regret. Then guilt also set in trying to make it right. What a mess!

Rest, trust, abiding. I get it……….now.

Life is short on this earth. Keep the main thing the main thing. Never forget it. Life is filled with moments of hidden potential. Yet, they are lost if we continually focus and fill our time with the not yet in the future. Our focused pursuit of this not yet trying to make it happen or trying to get ahead leaves us completely bankrupt. Sadly, we don’t see it until some future point that we strive to get to achieve what we think we want. We find it only leaves us empty.

I thank God that each day is filled anew with His mercy and grace. I thank Him that there are second chances, third chances, fourth chances…..

All God’s promises will come to pass, in His timing and In His way. By faith I access the not yet future through spiritual vision. I walk day by day, looking at my horizon line, knowing God knows the way. Through visions, prophetic words, and dreams, God reveals to me great and glorious things for me to do now and in the not yet future. I walk. I live. I trust. Life is a continual journey, one to be explored, a great adventure. My life in Christ flows in sync with eternity’s divine rhythm while living on earth. That is Christianity at its finest.

Each day holds beauty, moments filled with astonishing revelation of His abounding grace. I accept the now times of my life, living each day to the fullest. I don’t discount the day, no matter how routine or boring life may appear to be. Life’s mundane routines hold the glory of Christ. There are moments in each day, which hold keys to hidden doors, waiting to be opened into wide places of opportunity. I open my eyes to see, right now.

The future is realized through walking in sync with God in my now. I don’t have to run to get there. It will unfold right before my eyes as I focus on intimacy with the Lord. I am learning to be content and in that there is great wisdom.

DebraIn Christ,
Debra

I would love to speak at your conference, gathering, church or home group. Contact me here, on Facebook or on Twitter. Enjoy reading about Rivers of Eden and the Timeline of our Life!

Some Great Quotes

QuoteHere are some great quotes challenging my growth in Christ. They comfort and assure me, challenge and confront me, and most of all let me know God is in control, even if I don’t understand it all at this time.

“You can’t have authority over what you don’t love.” Shawn Bolz

“Become a safe place for the supernatural to happen in people’s lives.” Shawn Bolz

“2014 – Restoration of the method, the message and the messenger.” James Goll

“Prophecy is high-tech love.” Shawn Bolz

“Faith and hope work together. Hope is the seed bed that faith grows in.”  Kris Vallotton

“Hope feels, faith sees.” Kris Vallotton

And here’s mine:

In Christ, Debra Westbrook

DebraPlease pray and consider having Rivers of Eden minister in your gathering, home group, conference or church in 2014. This is our year of release wherever and whenever God opens His doors bringing His grace and His glory through us to those to whom we are called in this season. Feel Free to contact us on Facebook, Twitter.

First Steps – Speaking from Outside the Walls

ImageSoooooo, the stats of readers on that last post went wayyyyyy up. That leads me to believe that many want to read what I have to say here about being out.  Many are as frustrated as I was and want to step out but are afraid. Many just love and support me. I see you and love you back.  It’s all good. Thanks for reading. Again, the reason for writing this is simply because I am untangling myself from any and all assumptions about my life and this ministry that God has called us to steward, Rivers of Eden.

I am going to write as the Holy Spirit leads my thoughts. It will not be in a linear fashion from Point A years ago all the way to now, like a timeline. It will be in a circular rhythm of grace. Think about it. Didn’t Jesus walk like that? Let me explain. Some people and situations entered my ‘space’ over these past thirteen years and made a great big impact on my life, changing me and transforming me. Other things were part of the process and if I write about everything, it would simply be too long and boring, cluttered with details. I want to challenge your passion here to follow Jesus with all of your heart. He will make a way for you to move. Where? Where He leads you.

We left our church in April of 2000. I believe it was April, but it was 2000. We were not sent out and it was a bit tense at the time for many of us. People did not understand our decision. One dear pastor actually cautioned us against backsliding. He was so concerned for us and said this to us with unconditional love. Thanks Pastor Small. You are smiling down from heaven right now. You and I both know, Marvin and I are still on fire, following the Lord with our whole heart. No backsliding here.

ImageThe first few years out, we consistently met with people in our home to worship, pray and study the Word. I will call those years, My Journey Into Recovery from My Addiction – Religion. It took me about 5 years to be weaned out of the control of religion and performance based addiction to it. For Marvin, it seemed to be easier because it never controlled Him. He had no problem leaving the church. I said I didn’t but I surely did in truth. For me, I derived my identity from being in church, serving in church, being a good girl in church, going to church for every prayer meeting, attending every cutting edge conference, and the list goes on and on.

When there was suddenly nowhere to go on Sunday, I was like an addict suffering from withdrawals. You may think I am being funny here but I am not. You can ask my husband. Each Sunday would come around and I would feel so guilty and so shamed because I was not in church. I ended up so tense every weekend that this good Christian girl would pick an argument whenever the opportunity arose just to feel right about something. Can I tell you what I did?

Okay, I will. I will end with this story. Over those first few years of being OUT, I would often encourage Marvin just to visit some churches to get a fix on Sundays. Doubt was deep within me about the decision to leave. I really was miserable. He would shrug his shoulders and agree. He knows me so well that He knew what was going to happen after the service. We would go through the service – you know, greetings, 3 or 4 worship songs, announcements, another worship song while the offering is taken, the message and some prayer at the altar. In the best of cases, there was ministry of healing and deliverance to the people but that was not the norm but the exception.

As we left the building and got in our car, silence penetrated the atmosphere. I waited for him to talk. But he is no fool my husband. He just sat and waited for he knew what was going to happen. Then the explosion occurred. I went on for the whole ride home about the condition of the church we just visited. (Please realize I am not looking for the perfect church. It does not exist. My story, remember? No judgment here, okay? Follow this journey. J)

ImageI may have been right in my observations about those churches, but I had no right to judge any of it. It’s God’s job to build His church. My job was to follow Him where He was taking me, not looking to the right or the left. Yet, please know, that with most, not all, of the churches we visited over and over we saw man’s control, the wisdom of the world being employed to build the church, no flow of the Spirit in prophecy or words of knowledge, and a whole lot of programs. This is reality, not judgment. After my tirade, I got quiet realizing I could not go back -at least until the next Sunday when guilt and shame hit again and this scene repeated itself for those few years. I had a lot to learn. God had a lot to teach me.