In Celtic writings, the Wild Goose has been used as a metaphor for the Holy Spirit. Rather than portraying Him as the gentle dove, they felt more comfortable with a bird who expressed the wildness and un-tameable nature for the Spirit of God. It is said that the early Celtic believers in the Dark Ages would fast and pray, and then launch from their coasts in a boat with a sail and no rudder, simply believing that the Spirit would direct the winds and blow their vessel where He wanted them to evangelize or set up a prayer cell on some coastal island. For them, the Spirit of God was as wild as the Irish Sea, and the call of the goose represented that part of His nature.
Celtic artist Mary Fleeson says, “The Wild Goose tells a different side of the Holy Spirit. To begin with, wild geese aren’t controllable, you can’t restrain a wild goose and bend it to your will. They’re raucous and loud, [and] unlike the sweet and calming cooing of a dove, a goose’s call is strong, challenging, strident and unnerving - and just a bit scary. In much the same way, the Spirit of God can be demanding and unsettling, and at times even a little scary.”
Jesus foretold that His followers would embrace this aspect of the Spirit:
The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)
There's something about this aspect of God that we often miss, since our Western culture seems bent on making everything as comfortable as possible. But what if God was less interested in our personal comfort and more passionate about helping us live out our calling? In this photo, I wanted to show the Bride of Christ being moved by the call of the wild goose, and drawn to step into an adventure that's a little wild and crazy, but exactly what she was born to do.
This week, let's ask the Holy Spirit to enable us to hear the "call of the wild goose" that prepares us for new and exciting adventures!
Prayer: Holy Spirit, cause me to hear Your voice, and show me how to follow as You lead on the beautiful adventures You've prepared!
This photo is a bit different that what I've posted previously, because I used three elements to create it: light, time, and oil. Light and time are used to create a photo with a camera, and then I painted with oils on canvas and imposed that element on top of the photo. Watch this video to see the creative process!
I created this photo with the idea of capturing a moment when we're aware of God's Presence in a very special way. This moment of connection happens differently for each person-- some hearts are moved by nature and being surrounded by God's beautiful creation, while others experience the Holy Spirit through worship or reading the scriptures.
Recently, I've been thinking about how we sometimes miss out on these encounters for the simple reason that we don't practice longing for them. King David, a man after God's own heart, unashamedly wrote songs of wistful longing as he prayed for encounters with God.
As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
Psalm 42:1, 2
O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
I believe that one mark of a new breed of warriors God is raising up is the deep hunger for the Presence of God-- not simply a desire for signs and wonders, but for God Himself. This holy ache can only be satisfied by God Himself, and nothing else will satisfy other than God showing up and completely having His way in our lives.
In Hebrew, the word for “presence” is the word paw-neem, which means “face.”
This word is translated as both "presence" and "face" in our English Bibles. In Hebrew, to seek God's Presence and to seek His face mean the same thing: when His Presence comes, we make eye-connection with the King of Kings and we have His full attention. It's also interesting to note that to avoid His Presence means avoiding His face. Here's a few scriptural examples:
God promised Moses that His paw-neem would go him and give peace.
Enemies perish at His paw-neem.
Fullness of joy in God's paw-neem.
Justice is decreed for us from the place of paw-neem.
God calls our hearts to seek His paw-neem.
Adam fled from God's paw-neem when he hid in the garden of Eden.
Jonah fled from the paw-neem of the Lord.
Sometimes we may go through seasons where we take God's goodness for granted, like that of an old friend who's somehow obligated to help us, and we don't spend time seeking His face. How much more we could experience if only we cultivated the heart of David who spent time longing for God! This week, may you carve out some time for this type of prayer: to spend time longing for God. I've often prayed, God, I'm asking You to show up! However You want to do it is up to You, but I am waiting and watching for You to come!
Every encounter I've had with God's Presence makes me long for more, even the times when He corrects me and shows me an area where I've gotten off track. Feasting on His Presence is completely satisfying, engaging, and makes me yearn to be like Him and know His ways.
Prayer: Lord, I ask You to place a deep hunger in my heart for more of You. Make me thirsty for encounter, and then meet me with Your Presence, as only You can do.
Recently I was sitting on an airplane, leaning over my laptop to work on this photo while listening to my favorite music. The lady next to me broke the unspoken traveling law of “never bother someone with earbuds on,” and began bumping my elbow.
“What are you making?” she asked curiously. I told her about the composite photo process, and pulled out my phone to show her some finished photos. She ended up looking at over fifty photos, thoughtfully nodding as she pondered the meanings. Even though my audience was held captive at 30,000 feet (she didn't have much choice to escape if she didn't like my art!), her curiosity reminded me how hungry human beings can be for wisdom and meaning.
I love illumination from heaven. One of the things I treasure most about Jesus is that He brings answers that work into chaotic situations. I love that I can go to Him and ask for wisdom-- and He gives it. Some of my most epic moments as a Christ follower have occurred when I felt overwhelmed, turned to God in prayer, and received an answer that changed the way I viewed the situation. Sometimes He challenges, corrects, or simply lets me know I'm loved. I'm learning that his wisdom is always at hand and freely given.
Scripture tells us that our thoughts are not God's thoughts, but it also tells us that we have the mind of Christ. Because of the cross, we have access to His wisdom. Christ's mind and the way He thinks, is open to us-- we partner with the God who created the universe when we ask for His perspective! The God who created sunsets, scripted detailed laws of science like DNA and the Fibonacci Series, has offered to give us wisdom on how to live life. All we need do is ask.
This week, may you be reminded of the promise:
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5
May the Lord bring His illuminating wisdom to every step of your journey! No situation is too big or small for Him to notice.
Prayer: Lord, I ask for the wisdom promised in Your Word. I come without pride, ready to follow. I lay aside shame- You never berate me when I ask for help. I come as a child to a loving Father, trusting that You desire to illuminate my path and walk with me every step of the way. Please lead me today!
This picture shows a woman who has attempted to bandage a deep wound while the dagger is still embedded in her back, and this is a depiction of many people's souls. Often situations in life may wound us, and damaging words and actions stick like a weapon in our hearts.
Sometimes we attempt to fix pain by throwing a “quick fix” at our emotions, but there's only one thing that solves the root of the hurt: forgiveness. When we forgive, it doesn't mean the hurt goes away, nor does it cheapen our suffering. Instead, it releases the pain and hands it to God, just like pulling a dagger out of the flesh enables the wound to begin to heal. You can ban-aid all you want to, but as long as you're holding onto the weapons thrown at you, the pain continues. “Soul daggers” include betrayal, misunderstanding, accusation, and abandonment- as well as words that simply hurt.
Believe me, I don't enjoy the forgiveness process! But the truth is, I've chosen to follow Christ and this means two things: first, I've been forgiven for my sin which nailed Christ to the cross. No pain I can experience is greater than what my own sin put Christ through. How can I refuse to forgive when I've been forgiven of so much?
Secondly, Christ calls His followers to be an example of His love, and this requires forgiveness. The good news is that He lives within us and can empower us to forgive even when it's really hard. We can release the daggers and receive His healing. Hallelujah!
This photo depicts the Bride of Christ walking in strength and freedom-- no longer defensive, she's on the offensive and ready to wage war! Watch the video to discover the deeper meaning of why I posted these two photos together! (See previous blog on the "Warrior" photo and more details.)
"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds," 2 Corinthians 10:4
Recently I was at a conference where many churches were worshiping together. I had the picture in my head of the Bride of Christ tearing down strongholds- just by worshiping in unity. Simply by DOING what the Father calls us to do, we turn on the light in a dark place and the shadows flee. So I came home and created this photo in attempt to capture what I saw.
I remember leading a home group in Texas several years ago and the love of God was very present in a special way because of how we chose to walk in unity. The Lord spoke to me and said, "You are tearing down the religious spirit in this territory, just by releasing the Holy Spirit in this way."
When we obey the Lord, worship boldly, and cultivate unity, we accomplish more than we can dream.
"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds," 2 Corinthians 10:4
Feeling "stuck" is a hard place to be. Sometimes there are seasons in life where it feels impossible to move forward! In creating this photo, I used several metaphors to capture the difficulties and hope. Watch the video to see my personal story and how I stepped out of a "stuck" place in life.
Gum: I chewed so much gum in the making of this photo! Gum brings the idea of a sticky and clingy mess that is hard to get away from. It doesn't nourish you- no matter how much you chew it, gum will never feed your body. "Stuck" places in life are like this: messy and not nourishing. Ugg, just the idea of walking around with chewed gum anywhere than in your mouth is pretty disgusting!
Clock: the time is 11:45, and I love the idea that it's almost a new day! Sometimes we get discouraged and think that life will always be hard, when in reality we are just on the verge of a new beginning.
Green Dress: green is the symbol of life. We are all carrying something precious, something full of meaning and destiny because God made us for a reason. We were never made to be stuck forever. With God's help and a willing heart, we will be able to step into His good plan!
He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:24
I created this photo with the idea of a certain type of warrior who is very strategic in the Body of Christ. I call them "Defenders," because they have a deep sense of intuition, compassion, and will fight tooth and nail for what they believe in. They carry an innate sense of justice and are highly sensitive to right and wrong issues. Often they see past a person's disguise and pretense and discern the motives of the heart, both good or bad. In the past, they have been overlooked or even downplayed as “oversensitive,” but I really sense that the Lord is wanting to raise up these type of people because of their special and crucial place in the Body of Christ.
The weakness of this gifting is their tendency to be Rescuers-- they rescue people who are not ready to embrace freedom when they are led by human compassion instead the Spirit of God. Not everyone is ready to walk in freedom, and sometimes these warriors invest their time and energy into people and situations that aren't really going to help. (If we're honest with ourselves, most of us have done this in the past! I certainly have!) However, God brings balance and proper perspective when we ask Him, even to those of us who have been led by our own understanding. We learn from our mistakes, as long as we keep going.
The key to being a Defender instead of a Rescuer is this: it's crucial to ask God for wisdom when we see something that stirs us up. God has the full picture, and we don't, so if we spend time in prayer before running to the aid of a situation, we'll be led by His spirit rather than our own. The scripture I kept sensing with this photo is:
“If you return,
Then I will bring you back;
You shall stand before Me;
If you take out the precious from the vile,
You shall be as My mouth.”
In Hebrew, the word for “precious” means valuable, costly, excellent.
“Vile” is interpreted: to shake as the wind, worthless, prodigal, blow down.
The phrase “stand before Me” is from two Hebrew words: stand and face.
All of us have access to “FaceTime” with God through prayer. When we seek His face, our discernment becomes clear and sharp because we've received His revelation and direction. When we have accurate discernment on situations and relationships, He will be empower us with fresh anointing to defend the precious things and people that are on His heart. I feel like God is about to release more “precious” things into the earth, and we need watchmen to guard the things that are close to His heart. It's time for the Defenders to arise!
Behind the Scenes: The sword in this photo is a Scottish claymore given to me from a ministry in Scotland. You'll be seeing this sword in more photos! The bird is an immature bald eagle- it takes 3 years for the white feathers to appear on the head. The eagle photo was taken by my friend Debbie Douglass in Juneau, AK and used with permission.
"Dumpster Diving, Feeding the Scavenger."
DAY #2 Photo Challenge- to post a new photo every day this week!
I don't create a lot of "dark" photos, but this idea kept popping into my head and I decided there was a message on my heart. The idea of a bride dumpster diving is ridiculous, because a bide is someone who is loved, chosen, and has a man who promises to protect and provide for her. She has no reason to dive in dumpsters to meet her needs, yet the "inner scavenger" has her sifting through trash instead of embracing her worth and value.
So many times have we seen someone "looking for love in all the wrong places" because they're so desperate for love, when we know they're worth so much more! Sometimes it easier to feed the scavenger than embrace the royalty inside of us.
The truth is that God is our true Bridegroom and has promised to provide for us, if we'll just obey and trust Him. Choosing to place our trust in His love chases away the scavenger spirit and enables us to embrace who He says we are.
(c) Rebecca Friedlander
"Borderlines." I created this photo yesterday/today with the idea of prayers that wrestle with heaven. Sometimes we need an answer from God so badly about something that we "grab hold of heaven" and pray radical prayers. The prophet Isaiah lamented to God,
"...there is no one who calls on Your name,
Who stirs himself up to take hold of You;" Isaiah 64:7
The phrase "stirs himself up" is the Hebrew word meaning, "open the eyes, wake, lift up yourself, raise, stir up."
When we long for encounter with heaven, we can know that it is very close and not difficult to reach. It was said of Jesus, "...they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole." Mark 6:56
Jesus carried heaven everywhere He went, and just touching the border hem of his robe brought healing. Sometimes answers from heaven come easily without even trying, and other times it requires something more from us: a stirring, awakening, and hunger for something new that we choose to pursue with passion.
Here's the video to see the "Behind the Scenes" creation of this image!
For myself and many people I know, "transition" seems to be the recent life trend. In the middle of releasing old things and determining what the future holds, God has been slowing me down from my usual pace and asking me to dream with Him. Then, instead of immediately running with those dreams, He's been speaking to me about the importance of laying foundations, which is the subject of this week's photo.
Ugg, I love to build, but don't relish the idea of spending too much time on preparation. For someone who enjoys action, it's difficult for me to slow down and truly think about how to invest in the big picture... but recently the Holy Spirit shifted my perspective with a passage in Revelation.
"And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.... and the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones." Revelation 21:14, 19a
In His city, foundations are made of precious stones and people, and they are built to carry the Presence and glory of God. (Read Revelation 21 for context-- you'll be amazed at this city!) All of a sudden it struck me that God wants to build the next season of my life with these things as well: people, and precious jewels of revelation that come from my time with Him. In God's city, even the foundations are beautiful.
How do you lay a good foundation? I did some internet research and discovered five crucial DIY steps for building well that also apply to our life journey. Some of these "jewels" are a bit uncomfortable, but they are so applicable!