The last six months have been a challenging, difficult, unexpected wild ride for me, and for some of you as well. In December of 2015 I was diagnosed with a rare aggressive form of breast cancer. The next few months became a blur of tests, procedures, and more tests. I underwent surgery in February followed by chemo that started in April.
When I first received the bad news, surprisingly, one of the hardest parts for me was that I felt I had missed hearing God. In November 2015, while out in Redding, CA I was sitting in the prayer house at Bethel. I was asking God for a word for my year and without any hesitation at all, I felt I heard Him say, “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. “(Isa. 54:2) He continued to speak to me from more of Isaiah 54 and I excitedly scribbled in my journal the words I was hearing. Then I felt He said these words were not just for me, but they were also words for our corporate body.
These words spoke of advancement, enlargement, and acceleration, yet everything about my circumstances now stood in direct contradiction to the words I felt I had heard that day in the prayer house. I was confused and frankly, I was hurt.
During this process I picked up Paul Manwaring’s book “Kisses From a Good God”. Paul shares in this book his own journey through the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. He mentioned that the day they received their own devastating news, he and his wife immediately went to Bill Johnson’s office to sit down with him. After listening to their news, Bill asked Paul a question, “What do you think this battle is about?” After praying, the Lord revealed to Paul what the enemy was attempting to do through his attack. This ended up being a profound piece of the puzzle for Paul and Sue, as they now knew how to wage war in the days that followed.
After reading Paul’s story, I sat down to spend some time with the Father. Then, I asked Him that same question, “Father, what is this battle about?” Immediately I saw a picture of the Red Sea parting and the Children of Israel crossing over unharmed. Then I saw another scene where Joshua and the Israelites were crossing the Jordan River on dry land to take possession of their Promised Land. After seeing these two pictures I felt I heard the Father say, “The battle is about crossing over”.
It suddenly made sense to me. Everything the Lord had said was being challenged. It was to be a year of unprecedented advancement and acceleration. Of course the enemy would attempt to keep us from stepping into our promises! An anger and determination rose within me. Though it may seem that I would be sidelined for months, I purposed in my heart to take that time to go deeper with God.
I began to spend longer times in the word and the stories of Moses and Joshua were highlighted to me along with many other scriptures. As I meditated on these stories I discovered some keys that will be helpful as we seek to cross over into our own Promised Land. Here are some things I learned:
Always follow the Presence. This may seem an obvious principle, but it cannot be overstated. In both the stories of Moses leading the Israelites across the Red Sea, and Joshua as he led them across the Jordan, the Presence was front and center. In fact, it would be very foolish to attempt a journey into our Promised Land without following the Presence. It is the Presence of the Lord that will give us our battle plans, and He will fight on our behalf and throw the enemy into confusion at just the right moment.
The fact that the enemy is present does not mean that God is not. When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, it seems that most of the Israelites wrongly expected a journey free of the attacks of the enemy. Not long after they left Egypt and the Egyptian army was hot on their trail, they lamented, “….It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” (Ex. 14:12) And even as the massive crowd sought to cross the miraculously parted Red Sea, we find the Egyptian army nipping at their heels. I’m sure it must have felt like God was nowhere to be found. But, we know now that God was very present and very involved. He not only made the wheels of the Egyptian’s chariots come off, but He caused the waters to flow back over the entire army of Pharoah. Not one of them survived. We don’t need to let the enemy’s attacks cause us to believe that God is absent.
Be Strong and Courageous. It’s almost a little humorous, but the Lord tells Joshua four different times in Joshua 1, “Be strong and courageous”. I don’t know about you, but I would have been getting a little nervous. The implied message is that there would be reasons that Joshua would need to be strong and courageous. BIG reasons. Stepping into our promised land of destiny will always require us to be strong and courageous. But, we need not forget the next words the Lord spoke to Joshua. They are the reason he could be strong and courageous, and I believe He is also speaking these words to us. “…For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Josh. 1:9b)
Watch your mouth! Just as Joshua was instructed to not let the Book of the Law depart from his mouth, we must be intentional about watching over what words proceed from our mouths. God instructed Joshua that doing this was the key to his being prosperous and successful. Our words become self-fulfilling prophecies and can either propel us into our destiny or hinder us from entering into it
Help your brother take their land. Joshua spoke to three of the tribes who had land east of the Jordan and told them, “You are to help your brothers until the Lord gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving them”. (Josh. 1:14b-15a) This is one of my favorite parts of this story. When we live in true covenant and community, we will be just as concerned about seeing our brothers and sisters take possession of their land as taking possession of our own. This principle is so powerful and will help keep selfishness and selfish ambition from entering our hearts as we make this journey to possess our land.
We are in a season of crossing over into promises, and the grace is available to cover and assist us all in the move if we will lean into His goodness, and place our trust in Him. If you haven't been preparing for the move, it isn't too late. Ask Him to identify the promises over your life and what you can do to prepare to step into them. Place your hand in His and get ready for the journey of a lifetime.