In Kings 18 and 19, we read about the life of Elijah. Not only was he serving as a prophet of God, but he was also a mighty man of faith. Yet this same man, powerful in faith and close to God, still was vulnerable to fear. While Elijah was on the run from Queen Jezebel, he found himself hiding in a cave – and it is here the Lord quietly whispers, “Go back the way you came”. (1 Kings 19:15 NIV) Often before we see the fulfillment of the Lord’s call on our lives, He will ask us to ‘go back the way we came’ to receive healing, restoration, forgiveness and purpose. It’s once we’ve revisited these places, we can walk into all He has install for us.
A few years ago I found myself smack bang in the middle of an unfortunate incident.
As soon as it happened, I ‘told’ my heart that I would not hold onto an offence, that I would walk in forgiveness. If I’m truthful, my natural feelings were very different. Deciding to forgive did not take away from the pain of the incident.
At first I was hurt – and that hurt graduated to grief. I lost friendships and a church family, and in the incident even truth got ‘lost’. My grief eventually turned to anger and then grief reappeared and that is where I settled for a time. The grief ran deep in me – I grieved over misunderstood conversations, over the accusations leveled and over hurtful, spoken words. I was determined not to allow that grief to turn into bitterness.
I would pray, “Lord, if I have any unforgiveness then let me have a dream of the people involved.”
Night after night they would appear in my dreams and every morning as I opened my eyes I would spend the next few minutes praying a blessing over them, their family and their church.
Over time the dreams stopped and the grief began to dissipate and l found that I could once again see clearly without struggling with malice or sorrow. The dark season of pain and grief in me had finished.
Then God spoke to me. And he chose a dream. The only problem – I could not remember the dream when I woke! But I felt the Holy Spirit whisper to me, “Go back the way you came – and it will be at that place that I will reveal the dream to you!”
I knew exactly what that meant! I packed my running gear and headed to a running track were I had spent a lot of my time with one of the people involved in the incident. I found a carpark and preceded to setup the running ‘app’ on my phone ready to run – then it began.
First, the dream came rushing back to me –
I was putting on new running shoes. I had ordered these new shoes in my old shoe size and usually I had no problem fitting into that size. But my actual foot size was now different and as I tried to fit into these ill-fitting shoes I felt pain (my heel was hanging out the rear of the shoe). I eventually studied the size of these shoes and realised that I ordered the wrong size. I thought, “Why am I trying to squeeze into something that no longer fits?”
I immediately knew the interpretation – in short, it was time to move on…
As I began my run, different landmarks stood out along the track and as I approached each one, a new memory would come flooding back. Along with each memory came a feeling that I find difficult to describe – it was like a heavy chain uncoiled itself and lifted from my heart. Another landmark, another memory and another chunk of the chain would be broken.
By the end of my run I felt light on my feet and I could not wipe the smile from my face – I felt liberated!
The very final two landmarks were a tunnel and a tree – you have to run through the tunnel and on the other side was a slight incline to a tree. The tree represented a lot on the runs. It always meant the finish of our run, a place where we could stop, catch our breath, walk and talk. I loved this tree!
As I was finishing up my run I could see the tunnel in the distance and I knew on the other side of the tunnel was a tree – not just any tree but “the tree!” As I approached the tunnel I felt the Holy Spirit say, “The tunnel represents that you are leaving it all behind and you are going from this place into a new place.”
I have never run so fast in my life and as I passed through the tunnel, I stopped, looked back and gave thanks. Thanks for the memories, the freedom and the graciousness of God to lead me patiently through this process of healing.
Next to come was the tree. It was now in view and as I approached it, the Holy Spirit again spoke to me saying, “It is finished – the grieving, pain, regret and deep longing is over!”
As I approached the tree, I reached out my hand and just like on our runs, I touched its bark. But this touch was different. It brought with it a ‘new day’, and a new vision filled my heart – there was no fear – and a new hunger for God began to rise in me and a real excitement about my future.
It was over. Since then I have found myself in a new position with God and within myself. I feel emotionally healed and completely free, without wounds or scars.
I’m more certain today than I’ve ever been that when we stand in faith and pray, God will deliver us from our past hurts and painful experiences and He will teach us and lead us to complete restoration.