This is part 5 of the series, Go and See. These posts are designed to give you tools to "go and see" the ways God has designed you for impact right where you are, right now. If you are new here, head back to part 1, Stones of Remembrance, for the purpose and context of the series, along with the steps for creating a timeline. Then move to part 2, Thematic Labeling of Experience. Next, jump into part 3, A Clear-Conscience. And don't skip, part 4, Writing A Personal Essay.
Recap: Purpose & Context of the, Go and See, Series
Go and See, Part 5 Introduction
We all have been given gifts (skills, talents, experiences, heritage, etc.) to be used to do the work of heaven on earth. God has talents for each of us, and we are commanded to multiply them until his return. This is easier said than done, for sure. Yet, knowing your unique design, is paramount to running the race marked out for you. You have been given an exclusive combination of natural talents, spiritual gifts, and personality traits that are assigned only to you. This session is designed to help you see more clearly how who you are is the greatest gift of all because the way you are designed is specific to how you will be used for the glory of God and to impact earth and heaven.
Understanding your unique design can be challenging and time consuming. It may require some endurance and awkward moments of seeking the point of view of others. Still, it is worth it because your creator-Father desires for you to take joy in being the rare gem that you are. He desires for you to experience the fullness of peace and freedom that comes through the confidence gained in living out of who you were designed to be from the start. When you live from this place of understanding and wholeness, you will discover that like the loaves of bread and fish multiplying to feed the 5,000, God will start multiplying what you have to meet the needs of the “multitudes” you are asked to feed.
I pray that this session will help you to see that working at excavating and understanding your natural talents, spiritual gifts, personality traits and the ways God has worked in your life (your life’s timeline and story) can aid in propelling you forward from where you are right now. We are called to a dynamic, not a stagnant life. But sometimes fear, doubt or simply a lack of understanding of your unique design's purpose, can hold you back from moving forward. So, before start this session, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to come and remove any burdens are barriers that could hold you back from excavating the beautiful talents, gifts, and traits that God asks you to go and see as the "bread and fish" he wants to multiply through you to impact those around you.
Reflection & Application
If you need to refresh your memory on the scriptural rooting for this study, take a couple minutes to go and read Mark 6:30-44 and Matthew 25:14-30. Keep these in mind as you navigate this lesson because the metaphors, contexts and characters in the stories help us to see the necessity of taking seriously the act of going and seeing what we have, as little as it may seem. In addition, investing what we have been given for such a time as this is our end goal.
Let’s start with looking at what the Bible instructs us to as it pertains to spiritual gifts. Take a few minutes and go and see what is written 1 Corinthians 12:1-31. Highlight anything that sticks out to you.
Reflect on the following applications found in this chapter:
We are all called. We all have gifts. Let’s look at the journey of discovering our calling as if it is a Christmas morning. We run down the stairs, dig under the tree. Find all the gifts with our name on them. And then we start unwrapping them to see what we have been given.
There are many ways to unwrap a gift. And depending on the size or shape of the gift, we may use a different strategy to reveal it. So, we are going to use a variety of tools to go and see what the giver of the gifts has given to each of us.
There are a couple of differences between the typical gift we are given under the Christmas tree and the gifts we are given to fulfill our calling. First is that the gifts we are given to fulfill our calling are not intended just for personal use. They are given to us for the “common good” and in order that we may reveal God to those in our portion of the world.
Second, the typical gift we receive on our birthday or Christmas morning does not multiply itself. Unless of course you are the type of person who receives seeds or trees as gifts. Unlike material or man-made gifts, the gifts given to us from God are multiplied and increased by the work of the Holy Spirit living in us who gives us grace, strength and power to use all that we are and have to honor and glorify all that God is.
It is important with each gift that is unwrapped to pause and go and see in the deepest parts of our hearts the reasons we have been are given the gifts that are displayed before us. By this I mean, asking for revelation to gain understanding of how your natural talents, spiritual gifts, and personality traits point you to your gifts, purpose and vision.
And when you go hunting down and find those reasons, you can know you are on the right track if those reasons you find are rooted in and supported by the words of Scripture.
“...our God will count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 NKJV) .
This above verse points very clearly to the main reason we are charge to go and see what we have been given and then use those things in our lives to live out our purpose and vision. That is: so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him.
This call to lift the name of Jesus high in our lives, so that the world can see his light through us--that our lives can be illuminated by His glory--is a corporate calling with individual assignments. All our resources, natural talents, spiritual gifts, and personality traits are to build up, support and advance the assignments of the corporate body of believers. But the ways in which the gifts work within the lives of each believer should be as unique as the snowflakes that fall from the sky: no two alike in shape and size, yet alike in color, texture and beauty. And it takes thousands of them to cover a landscape to make it glimmer and shine in the Son.
Rebekah Lyons, in her, Be Still and Know Study, puts it this way, Within this corporate calling, we all have unique expressions. Throughout history-- and still today--God places specific assignments in our lives. He created each of us with talents and burdens to advance His kingdom work on earth.
Corporate and individual callings are part of our destiny. Each generation, people group and person have been uniquely created and strategically located to fulfill a calling in the time and the place they were set in. Christine Cain, at IF:Gathering 2018, put it this way, “If you are breathing on this earth. You are called to something right now because He put you here now.”
Consider these “heroes” of the Bible and how they were used by God in their time and place to accomplish deliverance and freedom for others: Moses, Joseph, David, Daniel, Esther, Deborah, Rehab, Mary, and Jesus. (Who else can you think of?) All of these people show us what it looks like to be set into time and a place to lead a people, save lives, advance the Kingdom, and storm the gates of hell. And so it is for you and for me. We are given the stories of these men and women so that we can have courage and strength to follow their lead. There is no time like the present to start living like Esthers in our generation!
"Not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.” 2 Timothy 1:9 (ESV).
Before time began, God had you designed to be who you are, set in your places and realm of influence, and doing what you are do. All these details of our life are gifts. Theses giftings come from a good and amazing Giver. They don’t stand alone under a tree. They are not mysterious packages from an unknown sender. But. . . they do need to be found, unwrapped, examined, and turned over to the power of the Spirit in order to be used.
So before you begin navigating the gifts and examining the ways in which they can be used (or if you are struggling to see the gifts given to you). Stop and seek the Giver. Believe and state as truth that you are gifted for a purpose and their is a vision written on your soul. Deliberately, stop and remind your soul that your life was set into motion before time and nothing can separate you from the design imprinted on you. Ask Him to be present as you go and see what He has already given you as presents.
Knowing this, seek to see the unwrapping of your gifts as an act of love toward the Giver of the gifts. Look at these as gifts to be valued, enjoyed and used as described in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24,
Rejoice always and delight in your faith; be unceasing and persistent in prayer; in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench [subdue, or be unresponsive to the working and guidance of] the [Holy] Spirit. Do not scorn or reject gifts of prophecy or prophecies [spoken revelations—words of instruction or exhortation or warning]. But test all things carefully [so you can recognize what is good]. Hold firmly to that which is good (AMP).
Persist in unwrapping these gifts. Yes, persistence and perseverance will likely be required. Not because God is a tricky jokester who wraps a gift 17 times just to make it hard to find the gem inside. But because we are in a fallen world and the Devil would love nothing more than anything stress you out or confuse you as you seek to know who you are, whose you are and how you are designed beautifully and uniquely to bring Jesus to people.
Yet, it is worth your time to enter this journey of seeking and understanding with caution and in relationship with others who know you well. Why? Because discernment is required. Discernment is the ability to see and decide between truth and error, right and wrong. It is also the process of checking our thinking and ideas against what is biblically true. In order to know what is biblically true, we need to be reading the Bible and bringing our questions about purpose and giftings to God, asking him to reveal and encourage. We also need to have candid conversations with others who know the Bible and can help us to “. . . examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good. . .” (2 Thessalonians 5:21-22).
Discernment is found in close proximity of God, studying His words, and by inviting in the revealing power of the Holy Spirit. Only in close relationship with Christ do we see the truest versions of ourselves. He delights in revealing to us our unique talents and assignments to go into all the World sharing the good news of a Christ who saves, restores, redeems, and brings hope and peace. Sometimes he uses the Bible, other times he may use prayer, in other seasons he may used circumstances and most often he uses other believers to help us see who we are and what we are uniquely gifted to do during our one life here on this earth.
So, as you go and see what gifts he is asking you to unwrap, trust that even if you can’t see them right away, they are there. Seek Him. Ask Him to reveal His gifts and purposes for you to you. He already knows them and has a plans for ways for you to use them. There is freedom in being in His holy presence and trusting that He reveals. Rest there, knowing that you have a tailor-made set of gifts set aside just for you to be able to put love into action--to bring glory to the King of heaven and earth. Claim, believe and make your mantra: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights” (James 1:17). He is talking about you. He is speaking of your design.
Tool 5: Excavating the Gems that are Your Gifts
As you step into this process of excavating and taking inventory of your gifts via the tools listed below, approach each as you would a beautifully wrapped gift handed to you to be opened. Let His joy be your strength as you pursue understanding who you are, whose you are and how your uniquely designed for fulfilling your rare and needed purpose for this time and place. Which just might be the saving of many lives.
Instructions for Excavating & Taking Inventory of Your Gifts:
Invite the Holy Spirit into the following reflection and analysis activities. Work through as many as you have time for over the coming week. (There is one activity for each day of the week.) Try super, duper hard to carve out time daily for these activities because they will help you greatly in understanding your unique design and affirm you in who you are in Christ.
There are a variety of ways God chooses to reveal himself to us. There are a variety of ways for us to go and see what gifts he has given to us to increase our joy, strength, and effectiveness in meeting the needs of those around us. But most essential to our ability to use our gifts to live lives of purpose rooted in who he has made us to be, is first to believe, really believe, that a good, good Father made me and made you in unique and beautiful ways for this time and in this place to increase His glory on the earth and to demonstrate His great love and delight in us for us. And then do the work of going and seeing all that he has given you and asked you to invest until His return.
This is part 5 of the series, Go and See. These posts are designed to give you tools to "go and see" the ways God has designed you for impact right where you are, right now. If you are new here, head back to part 1, Stones of Remembrance, for the purpose and context of the series, along with the steps for creating a timeline. Then move to part 2, Thematic Labeling of Experience. Next, jump into part 3, A Clear-Conscience. And don't skip, part 4, Writing A Personal Essay. Subscribe to updates to your inbox, below.
This is part 4 of the series, Go and See. These posts are designed to give you tools to "go and see" the ways God has designed you for impact right where you are, right now. If you are new here, head back to part 1, Stones of Remembrance, for the purpose and context of the series, along with the steps for creating a timeline. Then move to part 2, Thematic Labeling of Experience. Next, jump into part 3, A Clear-Conscience.
Recap: Purpose & Context of Go and See series
Go and See, Part 4: Introduction
Part 3: A Clear-Conscience was a heavy undertaking, wasn’t it? If you took the time to work through all components, or even some of the components of part 3, I hope you are able to see how brave, strong and courageous you are.
In this session, you are going to go one step further in unpacking and understanding how, even out of painful experiences, we can be led to our greatest visions and purposes. The aim of the following is to give you tools to go and see how a single life experience can show the redemptive power of Christ and give testimony to the work of God. This will be done by examining the instructions for writing a Personal Essay and then recording an experience from your timeline in personal essay format.
This may seem more academic than spiritual, but I have found that separating the secular and the sacred is a man-made way of categorizing and that God never intended us to live believing that some activities are spiritual and others are not. When we choose a life lived in Christ, all that we put our hands and minds to is encompassed by the hands and presence of our Creator.
That said, as you step into the reading and activities for part 4, don’t let the academic nature of them limit your motivation to complete them, nor allow yourself to believe that they are not spiritual enough to produce a communing and powerful experience between your soul and our God.
Many of the prompts and examples in this session relate to how reflecting on times of suffering, hardship or trials hold immense power to lead us to understanding our purpose and gifts. This is because it is these times in our lives that we often fail to reflect on how good these experiences were for our faith, growth and redemption. However, that doesn’t mean God doesn’t use experiences of success, triumph, or joy to also reveal our purpose and gifts. So, as you determine what to focus on in your Personal Essay, feel free to pull any life experience into the light and use it to share God’s hands in helping you understand yourself, Him or the world he created for you to be at such a time as this.
Parts 3 & 4: Overarching Themes
Understanding often doesn’t come in the midst of a trial or hardship. Even science reveals that the brain has a hard time learning when under stress, so it makes sense that it isn’t until later that we are able to cognitively and emotionally revisit challenging experiences of our lives and mine out the diamonds in the rough. What scientists have discovered about the brain and learning in recent years are also truths that we see in the stories of the men and women of the Bible. In addition, current-day Bible teachers like Beth Moore and Jennie Allen point out the following in regards to the relationship between suffering and understanding purpose and calling:
Many of us have walked onto the path of our divine calling with a wounding. Perhaps it’s time we quit thinking that it’s an accident. ~Beth Moore, Entrusted
Out of our pain we could heal the world. ~Jennie Allen, Restless
Yet, most important to our journey is to go to the the source of all truth, the Bible, where the words are sharper than a two-edged sword and are designed to instruct us on how to navigate life in this fallen world in a way that is in line with our divine calling and purposes.
Take a few minutes an go and see what is written in the following passages. Come back and then take note of the following connections:
Reflection & Application
Next, let's take a look at the story of Joseph. Joseph’s story is one of my favorite because his life reveals so purely how purpose and fulfillment of vision can take years and years to be revealed. And Joseph’s faithfulness in the times where it seemed the circumstances didn’t promote his calling have frequently helped me to dismiss circumstances as the voice to understanding my gifts, purpose and vision.
Go and see what is recorded in Genesis 37:12-36 & 39:1-23 and highlight the verses that stick out to you. Then come back and take note of the following:
Joseph’s story reveals God’s power and character. Do you believe your story can too?
If we were to chart Joseph’s suffering on a timeline, from the time of his great dreams to the time he was put in charge of the land, we would likely see a 30-40 year time span. That is a lot of years of wading through undesirable, and undeserved circumstances. Yet, Joseph chooses to use his gifts no matter what is going on around him. And in the midst of it all, Joseph experiences the presence of God.
In a world that honors comfort and seeks materialistic rewards as a symbol of success, it is sometimes hard to believe God is sovereign in both the experiences of favor and suffering in our life.
Tool 4: Writing a Personal Essay
Tool Defined: Personal Essays: Understanding, learning from, and finding value in the moments [both the painful and joyful] in our lives. The aim of this activity is for you to begin to form your memories into stories of hope, provision, heart change, and miracles. And ultimately to then record them to be passed on from generation to generation so that "all the world may know the hand of the Lord on the earth" (Joshua 4). We also want to ensure we are “breathing life” (2 Timothy 3:16) into our stories by including Scripture and Biblical truths into the re-telling or our stories.
A personal essay re-creates a specific experience or event in your life using sensory details, specific action, and revealing dialogue to engage the reader in a way that makes him or her feel like she is a part of the experience. The objective of the story is to show what you learned from the experience--to recollect, reflect and display revelations and truths that were birthed from it .
Begin by going back to your timeline from Sessions 1 & 2. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show you if there is one “stone” that your heart needs you to go and see deeper into understanding or one that highlights a significant impact God had in revealing himself to you.
Then, simply circle the 1-3 "stones" that most jump out to you after you pray. Next to each write just one word that could symbolize the theme or lesson of that experience. If you have not yet labeled the experience with one of the following categories: Creation, Fall, Restoration, Redemption, then do so before moving on.
Personal Essay Writing Instructions
Each day this week, spend time working on creating a personal essay from an event or experience on your timeline. This may be very challenging, especially to get started, but see this time as an invitation from Jesus to “come away with me by yourself to a quiet place.” And imagine that you may end up on the other side of the lake being asked what you have to meet the needs of the people there.
Consider that your story is what you have, it is your five loaves and two fish. Be expectant that God will take what you have and multiply it. Believe he will and let that bring you freedom to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and just start writing.
As you are writing, keep in mind what category the experience you are focussing on is settled under(Creation, Fall, Redemption, or Restoration). Let this help you find scripture and Biblical truths to add into the message you are trying to convey to your listening. Incorporate the Bible verses you find into the telling of your story.
Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, punctuation...none of that! Just worry about getting your ideas down in a somewhat organized manner that communicates how this part of your story reveals God’s story (either in your life or in the world). Remember, you best communicate your faith by showing His[God’s] Story, plus My Story, and how it equals Our [Your’s & God’s together] Story.
This is part 4 of the series, Go and See. These posts are designed to give you tools to "go and see" the ways God has designed you for impact right where you are, right now. If you are new here, head back to part 1, Stones of Remembrance, for the purpose and context of the series, along with the steps for creating a timeline. Then move to part 2, Thematic Labeling of Experience. Next, jump into part 3, A Clear-Conscience. Subscribe below to receive the following posts in this series to your inbox.
This is part 3 of the series, Go and See. These posts are designed to give you tools to "go and see" the ways God has designed you for impact right where you are, right now. If you are new here, head back to part 1, Stones of Remembrance, for the purpose and context of the series, along with the steps for creating a timeline. Then move to part 2, Thematic Labeling of Experience.
Recap: Purpose & Context of Go and See series
Go and See, Part 3: Introduction
Because of God’s grace and sovereignty, we can choose bravery to go and see how, even out of painful experiences, we can be led to our greatest calling. This may require some wrestling with hard questions and emotions, along with facing hindrances, but when we let the Holy Spirit in to clear our conscience we can run our race with confidence.
There are a few overarching themes I would like you to keep in mind as you journey through Part 3 and Part 4 of, God and See:
Reflection & Application
By faith we are saved and washed with the blood Jesus poured out at the cross. Yet, we are still prone to stumble and live in patterns of sin or lies that hold us back from fully living out God’s purpose for our lives. It can be difficult to find time and space to open our hearts up in front of the Lord and ask him to reveal, heal and set free. But this is essential to our going and seeing what we have. We best remember, write and operate out of a place of freedom. The alternative is to operate out of fear: fight, flight or freeze, which literally blocks our brain from higher level thinking and learning.
To remember, write and operate out of a place of freedom requires some reflective space and actions on our part. Consider the actions mentioned in the following verse and the instruction they provide for us:
Clearing of the conscience is a process (The priesthood consecration ceremonies took seven days: Exodus 29!) that starts with asking some hard questions of our hearts and souls. And asking the Holy Spirit to come in as our teacher and guide:
Another area to consider: We can genuinely repent and turn our backs on the sin and seek forgiveness from people we hurt and still carry the terrible burden of guilt for years on end. Until we let Christ’s work on the cross not only save our souls but cleanse our consciences, our own self-destructive tendencies will unwittingly team with the devil to bully us with bouts of mental torment (Beth Moore, The Entrusted Study).
Take some time to reflect and write down answers to the following questions:
Knowing your God-given purpose and God's plans for you can be helpful in motivating you to persevere in living out of a faith rooted in a clear-conscience. Ephesians is a marvelous book to study when trying to understand the call of the body of Christ, and the command to the individual to share God's plan for the world, to serve and to love with power and clarity of purpose and mind. For this session, let’s dive into Ephesians 3:7-11 and glean some wisdom from how the Apostle Paul encapsulate the purpose and vision set out for him by God. You will see his calling is not that different than yours and mine.
“Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord” (ESV).
Note the following based on Ephesians 3:
Let’s look at a couple more passages that demonstrate God’s purpose being written into your story before it was even revealed to you or comprehensible to your soul. In 1 Corinthians 15:9-10 (Go and read it and come right back.), Paul again shows us, He did not call himself. In addition he states, “by the grace of God I am what I am.” In other words, my past and my present are not outside God’s hand of grace and calling. So also for you! The scars or mishaps of your past don’t cast you outside the calling and purpose to “preach” the Gospel to the people God places in your life. All who claim the name of Jesus as Lord and savior have a divine appointing and anointing because Christ’s death on the cross made each of us members in the royal priesthood and the Holy Spirit’s ascension gives us the power to do all things.
Let that sink in for a little bit. You are called. Your life has a divine and holy purpose. Because it was written on your heart and soul before the beginning of time. Now is the time to go and see how to use your gifts, time, talents and experiences to live it out for such a time as this.
But why is that so hard to do?
Because we live in a fallen world and we have an enemy who likes to entangle us in snares, knock us of course, and steal the gifts we have been given to bring Jesus’ name and saving grace to the lonely and hurting. In my life, and possibly in yours too, this wrestling match starts in my mind so it is hard to detect the attack. Secondly, “I am a human, raised by human” (the movie, Elf). In this human condition I am prone to faults, failures, and sins that cloud my vision, inhibit my motives and have the potential to derail me from the path marked out for me. The human condition has it's hold on all of us while we walk on this broken planet.
As a result, we have to work at pursuing and maintaining a clear-conscience: persisting in not allowing faults, failures and sin to inhibit us from faithfully, joyfully and powerfully living a life that utilizes all the God-given gifts provided to us as a means for reaching the world around us for the glory of God and the love of all he has created.
In the book of 2 Timothy (Go read the whole book. It will take you approximately 11 minutes. I timed it for you.) you will see that Paul teaches us that serving with a clear-conscience comes from not taking credit for our accomplishments or our failings. In addition, that a clear-conscience is formed out of believing we have a divine calling and being equally convinced we did nothing to earn it. Consequently, we are neither powerful enough to ruin God’s plans. Admitting that even in what seems to be our time of greatest failure, He can make all things work for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28) requires faith, humility and trust. Getting to this place in our believing is to land in our sweet spot. Operating out of this sweet spot is our flourishing. We will never fully arrive at this place this side of heaven, but in Christ and through the Holy Spirit, we will experience it on the days we need it and God stoops down and offers grace to us. And on the days when we fight for it with all the armor of God provided to us to do battle.
Fighting for a clear-conscience is doable and necessary for us to run with assurance and confidence the races marked out for us. Therefore, taking the time sit with and reflect upon the past and present choices, actions and thoughts of your life and mind is a needed step in this process of going and seeing how your God-given gifts were intended for such a time as this.
To further explain and clarify, let’s take a look at a passage in Hebrews 10:19-24. In this passage we see both how our conscience is set to cleanliness and the result of letting the Holy Spirit come in an clean house.
"Therefore, brothers [and sisters], since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his [Jesus’] body, and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled [by the blood shed at the cross] to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope [of our purpose and calling] we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds" (NIV).
These verses make it clear that we are already cleaned and given a clear-conscience because of the atoning work of Jesus as the sacrificial lamb for all mankind. So, it isn’t that we have to work to gain a clear-conscience by doing this or that. It is that we have to work at remembering, seeing and admitting the ways we have fallen short, made choices out of fear or envy, participated in actions that harmed ourselves or others, or perhaps let doubt win over belief. It is taking the time and space to let our hearts break for what breaks the heart of God and admit maybe what breaks his heart hasn’t been our priority.
It takes sitting in that grief long enough to feel the weight of the consequences of our sin. Not so that we feel shame or condemnation, but that we are able to feel, know and understand what we have been saved from. True humility, the kind that brings our soul and heart to understanding deeply a right posture toward God, is found in going and seeing some of those dark places of our hearts and minds, admitting that we see them and THEN letting the light of Truth, the power of the Spirit, and the cleansing power of Christ wash it all clean.
Sit with that image for a minute or two: your heart, your mind, your soul, your ambitions [strength] gently and lovingly having the purest of waters being dumped over them to wash them clean.
Tool 3: Stone Washing Activity
Tool Defined: Washing Your “Stones” (tactile learning): Research shows that we learn best when we experience the intended lesson with our five senses: touch, smell, taste, hearing, sight. This activity is designed to allow you to engage in as many of those as you can, so that your brain can hold onto the memory and your heart can sense God’s touch.
In addition, our ability to recall is increased when touch, smell, taste, hearing or site are associated with a memory. In particularly difficult memories, these senses can trigger negative emotions. But God is the great healer, and he wants to come into those broken and hard places of your heart's memory, and establish clean memories and replace sensory triggers. But it may require some effort on our parts to invite the Holy Spirit into those places and give our brain some new wiring systems to work with.
As you work through the steps of this activity, imagine that it is God’s hands washing over the words on your stones. Imagine that he is taking rocky parts of your heart and turning those stones to flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). Get to a quiet place and let him wash over your heart as you wash these memories. Ask God to heal the negative sensory details with the ones that are in front of you: warm water, fragrant soap, clean hands, erased words. Let His grace come in and reveal what needs revealing to provide a clear conscience with which to run forward in your purpose and calling.
Exposing what isn’t hidden anyway still has a way of summoning up fear and trepidation. The author of Hebrews clearly understood this because he opens this passage with assuring us that we can draw near with the assurance provided to us through our faith, believing that laying before him all that has been trapping us in guilt, has been overcome and cleansed. We need only to draw near, admit those things that are chaining us to guilt, and then believe the cleansing is in His hands, literally. The nails in his hands took that guilt for us so that we could hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, and the one who is faithful.
You and I, we have access to a “true heart” fully assured and confident because of our faith. Yet, the daily toiling of life in this world can sometimes hold us back or trip us up. This is not new (Consider some of the “heroes” of the Bible the actions they took: Jacob, Noah, and David to name a few. ). Nor it is surprising to God. Yet, if we don’t let God come in and deal with the guilty conscience that has resulted from our failures or unbelief, we’ll lack assurance, hemorrhage faith, and default to condemnation that could cripple our walk with Christ.
Our hearts are already “sprinkled” and our bodies “washed” by the atoning power of Christ, but we need to make sure we take the time to recognize exactly what poor choices he has redeemed, what broken relationships he has restored and what condemning self-talk and lies he has set us free from. The chains have been broken, but if we only see them locking up invisible, unnamed things, we will not fully realize all that he has done for us, and our conscience will not fully understand the clean-state in which we live.
This is part 2 of the series, Go and See. These posts are designed to give you tools to "go and see" the ways God has designed you for impact right where you are, right now. Head back to part 1, Stones of Remembrance, for the purpose and context of the series, along with the steps for creating a timeline to be use here in part 2.
Recap from Part 1: Stones of Remembrance Timeline
First, if you are coming here today having completed a big long timeline of your life, one that has set on a paper "stone of remembrance" of people, places and experiences that have shaped your life, I want to say, "kudos!" That likely took a lot of prayer, emotion, and perseverance of mind.
I imagine it took just as much effort as was required of the 12 men in Joshua 4 who were commanded to "take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder." These large stones would then be set in place as a memorial of remembrance. So that, when future generations asked, ‘What do these stones mean?’ they would be reminded, "The Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever" (Joshua 4:21-24, ESV).
Reflection & Application
Have you ever considered that by taking the time to remember and record the people, places and experiences of your life it would be possible to see how your life is made up of stories that testify to God’s presence and work on this Earth?
Do you believe that just as the stones set up in Joshua 4 were meant to show all the peoples of the earth the hand of the Lord is mighty to save, your "stones" too can be set up to do the same?
What if your "stones" (stacked one on top of the other) are meant to display God's sovereignty, grace and relentless love?
I believe they are. I believe they will. I believe that you just might need some tools to help you get those stones set up and put in place in such a way that others can see [read] them.
In not too long, upon seeing [reading about] them, your children or others will soon be asking, "What do those stones mean?" And you'll be able to answer them, with a testimony that says, "The hand of God is mighty to save. The love of God is sovereign. The life of being a chosen one is full of hosanna ("Help! Save me now!") moments, and a God who restores, redeems every one of them for His good purposes.
Yet, setting up those "stones" and sharing what they mean in light of heaven can be very, very hard.
There are a myriad of reasons but I think these are the top three:
This session's tool is designed to help you jump over all of the above hangups you might face in taking the "stones of remembrance" of your life and setting them up as a memorial for you and "your people" to be reminded of God's deliverance, faithfulness and presence in your journey from here to heaven.
Tool 2: Thematic Labeling of “Stones”
Thematic Labeling of “Stones” (organizational structure): The Bible sets up for us a storyline pattern that is used in in nearly every book or movie that leaves the reader or viewer feeling satisfied at the end. (Do you find this a coincidence? I don’t!).
All good stories have these components:
It can be helpful to categorize your experiences and memories into these themes for a few reasons. First, it begins to help you frame your story in light of the Gospel. Second, it allows you to go into the Bible and find passages that relate to the theme of your story and it’s correspondence to Truths from God’s word. Third, it can help you shape what you are called to share with others in a way that is engaging and satisfying to the hearer. Forth, when we view our story in this way, we can more easily see that there is a divine and Holy author writing a beautiful story out of our lives.
After you have exhausted yourself with remembering, then go back and add themes (creation, fall, redemption, restoration) to the “stones” you have placed on your timeline. Try to categorize all “stones” with at least one of the themes, but each experience you recall doesn’t need to have all four components.
Creation: Times when something new was birthed, reborn or made new: education, marriages, jobs, children, dreams, visions… → Highlight these events/memories in yellow.
Fall: Times when something was broken, torn away, damaged, or lost. This could be physically, emotionally or spiritually. Desert times. Hardships caused by choices you made or circumstances around you. → Highlight these events/memories in green.
Redemption: Memories of times when you witnessed God bringing you (or someone else) to turning point: Turning from something that was distracting you from him and going back to him. → Highlight these in blue.
Restoration: Memories of something in you or around you being made new, healed restored, or cleaned up. → Highlight these events/memories in pink.
Tips to help with getting your ideas out of your head and onto paper:
The Next Step
Connecting the people, places and experiences of your life to Truths and specific Bible verses can help deepen the experience of remembering and labeling the "stones" of your timeline. The retelling of our experiences and reflections of what we have learned from them are powerful and valuable. Yet, when we can also weave the words of Scripture in to support the themes or lessons we have learned, there is a "breath of life" that is added, increasing the power and impact because we are allowing God's words to be present in our remembering, writing, and speaking.
So, the next step to take after labeling all your stones into a category is to find Bible passages that support the theme or what you learned from the experience. You can use your knowledge of the Bible (verses you have memorized), your Bible's Topical Concordance (if it has one) or an online Topic Bible (for example, Biblegateway.com or Biblehub.com) to find Scripture or biblical truths that could be used when it comes time to write about or share your "stones" with others.
Then, either on a separate sheet of paper or next to each "stone" on your timeline, record the Bible verses you find that could be worked into the telling of your story. Later, this will help you to convey your intended message to your reader or listener.
I would like to close this post with a testimony to how this tool, along with the power of the Holy Spirit, set one woman free and empowered her to claim a promise from the Bible over her future.
A few weeks after teaching this series as a class to a small group of women, I received a note from an attendee. In it was written, "I did my timeline on a literal line from birth --> our class. When I finished my line, the Spirit prompted me to subtract the years depression started (month and year) until class. It was exactly 40 years! Then the Spirit said, 'You were in the desert 40 years and now you're out!' Believe me, I am claiming that promise!"
I close with this for two reasons:
I have spent a lot of months debating what to do with this Go and See series that in a lot of ways seems half-finished. I debated ever teaching it again. But when I look back at this note, I am reminded that I am to persevere in helping others uncover their God-given gifts so that we can all keep building one another up, cheering one another one, and ushering in the Kingdom of Heaven through the body of Christ. Lifting stones is hard work. Investing our talents is sometimes exhausting. But the rewards coming at the end of the race will be worth it.
Nevertheless, to run the race marked out for you, you may first need to step into discovering how your life's story is revealing who you are, who you are called to minister to and how you are designed to do so with joy, passion and love. Remember to invite the Holy Spirit in to each step of this process as a guide who holds the light that is the lamp leading you to understanding. Let your mind and soul trust that your work is not in vain and that your Heavenly Father delights in watching you open the gifts he has given you for such a time as this.
Links to all the, Go and See Study, sessions.