Into the Deep, Out of Shallow Waters

If I am consumed with inner passions that drive my soul, then I move in sync with my own desires rather than listening to the whisper of God’s voice. From deep inside my spirit, His voice calls me to a place of quietness and strength in the midst of the world’s noise. It’s here that I live in the depths of His presence. Much like a deep ocean, I live move and have my being in Him as the current of Christ’s life in me charts my course in Holy Spirit. I don’t like shallow waters. I don’t live a shallow life.

cropped-cropped-photo3.jpgI can’t live in the shallow waters of life, splashing around with good intentions while following the desire of my own hearts. In this place, I can wade in limited realities. Words such as perhaps, maybe, could be or some day form mental images that bind me to safety. Shallow waters provide safety. It is a place I can splash around all day, never experiencing much at all.

God calls me to the deep oceans where there are strong currents. The force of His currents strengthens my faith, as I move in sync with Him. The deep oceans sweep me along as I submit to the winds and the waves stirred up by God’s hand.

The deep is where I choose life, abundantly lived in response to the call of the His voice. The prevailing winds and strong currents subject me to storms with high, relentless waves at times that take my life and turn it in many directions. Yet I still affirm in my heart to follow the sound of His voice into the deep. It is here I experiences courage in the midst of high waves, faith in the midst of strong storms and hope to sail through it all for His purpose.

I choose to untie the anchor that ties me to the shallows. I have had enough of it to be quite honest. These past 3 years have been mundane and nebulous but a new day dawns right before my eyes. Holy Spirit charts the course, leading me out and about. I never liked the shallow. It took these past three years, wading in the shallows of fear, worry, and insecurity to know this truth. It’s time to launch out.

Debra

In Christ, Debra

Rivers of Eden Ministry

Creative Expression – It’s Been A Long Time Coming!

NowPeter denied Christ. Paul persecuted Christians. Yet, there is marvelous restoration in Christ for everyone who receives Him.

And then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9 Message)

Before Peter or Paul captured the beauty of their life in Christ, they saw their own glaring frailties and complete failures. They each failed miserably. Then they encountered the reality of Christ. In their weakness, He came into their lives with awesome encounters. It was at this point – their point of absolute weakness – that they are awakened to their absolute need of Christ to make them whole. Things have not changed much for us today. In fact, it has not changed at all.

About an hour later, someone else spoke up, really adamant: “He’s got to have been with him! He’s got ‘Galilean’ written all over him.” Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” At that very moment, the last word hardly off his lips, a rooster crowed. Just then, the Master turned and looked at Peter. Peter remembered what the Master had said to him:” Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” He went out and cried and cried and cried. (Luke 22:59-62 Message)

The piercing eyes of Jesus, eyes filled with absolute love and mercy for Peter. Peter looks and is suddenly accosted by regret, guilt, and condemnation.

That set off a terrific persecution of the church in Jerusalem. The believers were all scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. All, that is, but the apostles. Good and brave men buried Stephen, giving him a solemn funeral––not many dry eyes that day! And Saul just went wild, devastating the church, entering house after house after house, dragging men and women off to jail (Acts 8:1-3 Message)

Paul brazenly defended his religion, without mercy and without regret.

Both of these men soon hit rock bottom. It was at that point that Jesus reveals Himself to each of them. His grace is made perfect in their absolute weakness.

Transformation comes with confrontation.

Peter’s revelatory moment.

Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Master!” When Simon Peter realized that it was the Master, he threw on some clothes, for he was stripped for work, and dove into the sea. (John 21:7 Message)

Then he said it a third time:” Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was upset that he asked for the third time, “Do you love me?” so he answered, “Master, you know everything there is to know. You’ve got to know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. (John 21:17 Message)

Paul’s revelatory moment.

He set off. When he got to the outskirts of Damascus, he was suddenly dazed by a blinding flash of light. As he fell to the ground, he heard a voice: “Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me?” He said, “Who are you, Master?” “I am Jesus, the One you’re hunting down. (Acts 9:3-5 Message)

Restoration flows through each life in the wake of revelation – the unconditional love of Jesus Christ. His mercy. His grace. Jesus comes to restore and make whole, anointing men and women for His purpose, not in their relevant strengths but in their blatant weaknesses.

That’s when Peter stood up and, backed by the other eleven, spoke out with bold urgency:” Fellow Jews, all of you who are visiting Jerusalem, listen carefully and get this story straight (Acts 2:14 Message)

He said, “Who are you, Master?” “I am Jesus, the One you’re hunting down. 6 I want you to get up and enter the city. In the city you’ll be told what to do next. (Acts 9:5-6 Message)

One day as they were worshiping God––they were also fasting as they waited for guidance––the Holy Spirit spoke: “Take Barnabas and Saul and commission them for the work I have called them to do. (Acts 13:2 Message)

There it is for me to see. Failure, utter failure, discouragement, regret and wholehearted restoration in Christ. This past year, in my own self-indulgence, always thinking about me, I discounted His love and mercy, His grace and forgiveness in my life. I often hurled accusations at my God for being absent, uncaring or an unloving Father. Over the past year, my faith in crisis, often felt like Peter standing close to the fire, blatantly saying, “I don’t know You.” I discounted all those past years when He met me supernaturally and loved me unconditionally.

Yet, today, after some God ordained supernatural days, transformation is flowing into my life. I did not ordain the time. I did not ordain the season. It is God.

February is a turning month for me. God spoke that to me, yet hope deferred blinded my eyes from seeing its truth and reality. Healing touches my heart. Hope is restored and faith gives me eyes to see what I could not see even 2 weeks ago. My encounter, my reality.

I failed miserably in many ways in my life. Yet, His grace is sufficient. I have stumbled and offended. I have allowed anger to rule my emotions. Yet, His grace is sufficient for me, in my weakness.

It’s been a long time coming. It seems as if scales are falling off my eyes to love and be loved. My spiritual voice is being restored with authenticity and honesty flowing forth. If you are reading this and have followed my journey, I would not be saying this just to have a good blog. God shows no favorites. He loves His children. What He does for me, He can and will do for you.

There are still good and bad days to come but here’s the difference. There were cracks in my foundation, blatant cracks in my life. I often felt like I have destroyed so many things – relationships and more – that there was no hope. Then while walking a few days ago, I kept thinking about Peter and about Paul. Jesus’ strength made perfect in blatant weakness. This strength is for me, right now in my life. Christ in me, the hope of glory. Seeing the reality of my life without Him. Seeing that I cannot go further in my own strength, I fall headlong into my own life. Then, He comes at that point and restores and renews and refreshes.

How did this happen? Well as I said, it is God’s unique timing and purpose. He led me to a conference where I encountered an anointing in the Holy Spirit. Hands were laid on me and freedom came. God’s timing. God’s way. Out of the cave, one step forward – in my weakness, He is strong. It could have come another way, but it did not. It could have come years ago, but it did not. It could have but His timing is perfect, NOW.

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, or Twitter.

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Our Kenya Years

Kenya Map

Kenya Map

The best thing about Kenya is its people, their joy, their resilience, and their strength. Our experiences in Kenya were the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, yet our love never wavers for this nation. God called us there for the first time in 2002. It has been over 5 years since we have been back. It is almost 2014 and I still think about it quite often. Waiting on God, I listen carefully should He open a door for me to return.

When I think about Kenya, I think ‘light’. There is a radiance and splendor shining forth from the heart of the nation. Amidst the villages and the cities, the Lord has blessed Kenya with beauty. Look into a Kenyan’s eyes and you see light, the light of hope that tomorrow will be better than today. They live with hope for the future, despite any attack that presents itself in the day. Kenyans are resilient. You knock them down, they get up. And, when they get up, they are still joyful despite everything that tries to come against them.

When I think about Kenya, I think “joy”. The joy of the Lord is their strength. That inner fortitude carries them into their future, investing their lives into their families and children. Joy flows through Kenya like a river. It flows through the generations despite outward turmoil or inward despair. Joy is inherent in their nature, as if God, by His hand, wove it throughout their DNA. They are joyful. It is who they are. It is how they live.

Kenya Girls with Bananas

Kenya Girls with Bananas

When I think about Kenya, I think about its greatest resource, its people, especially its children. Children are a living, running, smiling testimony that God is making a way from generation to generation. God manifests in the present His own hope for the future in the children of Kenya. God births life through children so that we remember; He is greater than poverty or lack. He is greater than despair and disillusionment. He is greater than disease. He is able to do above and beyond anything we can think or imagine.

Children are unique – simple, unique, shining brightly with joy. They are loved. They are wanted here. They are valued. Families loving children generation after generation. I can still see meetings where the children would gather at the front of the venue, sitting and watching us minister. I see their smiles –always smiling.

Kenya Marvin and Girl with Flowers

Kenya Marvin and Girl with Flowers

Before I jump into 2014 with passion and purpose, I remember where I came from in years past. I remember who influenced me and what impacted my life. Finland has changed my life. Abu Dhabi has changed my life. And Kenya has changed my life. Each nation has imparted strength into the fiber of my being. My life has been greatly blessed and enriched by Kenya. I feel quite sure in what I am writing. I am not rambling about my travels. I see God making a way through all of this to show me again that my call is to the nations. I am a nomad at heart for travel and adventure burn in my spirit.  In writing this, the Lord is speaking to me to remember His promises. Remember the doors that will open with the new experiences and the greatest adventures. Remember the call to go forth in His glory and grace. Remember that He who has called me is faithful, and He will do it.