When I was a little girl, my family occasionally journeyed up to Santa Cruz, California – to the infamous beach boardwalk. There were rollercoasters, cotton candy, skeeball, and the glorious carousel. The carousel was grand not only because of the vast array of options in every color Crayola himself could dream of, but because of the CLOWN’S MOUTH. The clown’s mouth is the hole, the bull’s eye, through which those seated on the outside circle of the carousel can throw steel rings with the high hopes of aiming well and watching the clown swallow the ring.
As one’s horse-in-motion approaches the clown, it becomes increasingly apparent that TIMING is everything. Moreover, there’s something to the juuuust right fling of the wrist which brings success. It may feel a tad stressful initially, but once one gets the rhythm, it’s simple to follow.
In 1 Chronicles 12:32 there is the mention of the “children of Isaachar” apparently known for their ability to not only see the times, but to understand the times as well.
“And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.”
They were gifted in following the rhythm of the Spirit. I’m sure they would have excelled at getting the rings in the Clown’s Mouth, spiritually speaking.
So, in learning to be still and listen, watch, and sense the Spirit’s movement, I am humbled and I am strengthened. Over the last few months, I have found myself profoundly in the middle of a great orchestration of God’s love. I mentioned in previous posts, the American woman I met after going outside to find a screw on the ground. From there my life became a very hands-on, intense, but lovely journey in living in unshakable peace and in sharing that peace with someone in desperate need of love.
Shortly after I met this woman, God spoke to me that she was part of the reason I had not established ministry at the mental hospital yet: 1. I had more time and a relatively open schedule to simply be present for this woman’s ever-evolving, ever panicked needs. 2. Serving this woman and listening to God on her behalf – speaking His truth to her, talking her through moments of anxiety, maintaining boundaries, listening to her heart, and being a safe place for her to take refuge was to be an intensive training for me for ministry in the mental hospital and beyond.
And surely I grew leaps and bounds in those two weeks! God gave me new wisdom and higher love. Moreover, I can confidently say that my peace never left – despite 4am phone calls, yelling, her sleepless nights, her phone’s endless ringing, and being placed on the phone with numerous friends of hers as an intermediary in times of conflict. It was a blessing. I saw so plainly the intervention of Jesus on a daily basis in her life.
Well, after weeks of attempting to meet with the medical director at the mental hospital, to no avail due to scheduling conflicts and the director’s travels, a meeting was finally set up: 1230 on Tuesday, April 14. And lo-and-behold, my American friend decided to leave Bethlehem that very day. Thus, my friend Markye and I dropped her and all her luggage off ON OUR WAY to the mental hospital! The evident hand-off was unmistakable. God’s timing was palpable. From one mini-season of ministry to another. : )
Off to the mental hospital we went.
Now, I should mention that in December when I was asking God what to focus on in the season ahead: first He said, “I want you to establish my kingdom in the mental hospital” and as I continued to dialog with Him about what that should look like, He assured me with, “I will give you the blessing of those in authority.” So, I knew that some surprising favor was not-so-surprisingly on its way. Moreover, God had me read through the book of Joshua for strategy and insight in “taking the promised land” of the mental hospital. And WOW that book really equipped me and the Holy Spirit breathed a lot of fresh revelation therein. One of the key instructions from the Holy Spirit was to be COURAGEOUS, to speak boldly.
Hence, in the weeks leading up to our meeting with the medical director I asked the Lord for scripture to be meditating on. And again, the morning before we went, I clothed myself in those verses and asked for His clear guidance for what verses to share with the medical director. By the time we met with her, I was chewing on a few selections in particular. Yummy.
Incredible. For nearly two hours we had her undivided attention. No phone calls, no knocks on the door, nothing to tend to. Maryke, who has sat with her many times, observed that this was amazing – she is typically interrupted every few minutes. YAY GOD! And so after perhaps 20 minutes of catch-up and getting to know her, she asked me what I want to do exactly in the mental hospital.
“Mainly, I want to pray. I know that Jesus is the only One who can truly set people free and I want to see people set free.”
She froze mid-coffee-stir.
“You want to pray?!? hmmm… well, okay. I suppose that’s fine, but let’s keep that focus mainly between you and I. I don’t know how others will feel about that.”
haha! And from that initial move of a piece on the chessboard, many other pieces were soon moved into place. I explained we’d like to bring in instruments and teach the women songs. We’d like to talk with them. We’d like to laugh with them. And maybe we could facilitate someone teaching English to patients and/or staff. The director was pleased. I felt the Holy Spirit’s nudge to read a certain passage. So, I asked if I could read something from the Bible to her. “Yes, sure” she replied.
And out came Ephesians 6:12
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
She said it was interesting. And her eyes were wide and open, like those on an oversized dancing dragon at Chinese New Year.
We talked more and I asked if we could pray for her. She said, “yes, I would like that.” I got up and put my hand on her shoulder and prayed. God led. Stomach problems and several other specifics were highlighted. And then I saw a prophetic picture, which I shared with her: she was standing in a building, maybe a house, with limestone walls and blue shutters, and she when she opened the shutters ever-so-slightly to see what was outside, a large gust of wind blew through the room and threw the shutters completely open. She could then see everything.
With tears in her eyes, she said, “thank you. I agree with everything you said, except one thing. You said I am a leader and I don’t see that.” (concrete proof, yet again, that we often undervalue ourselves – for surely to anyone else this woman, the DIRECTOR at a mental hospital, is a leader)
Well, the Lord plunked Harriet Tubman in my spirit. And I shared that story with the director. “You are like Harriet Tubman,” I said. She was glued to the tale. She asked for more details and “can I find this woman on the internet?” “Yes, search for “Harriet Tubman” and maybe “Freedom Train” and you will find the whole story.”
I love God. haha! He is amazingly, gorgeously, sweetly good at His job. : ) And what love He has in pursuing us in just the way that we individually need to be pursued!
Well, that day we not only got her solid approval, but also that of the General Director of the hospital. They asked that we write a letter to the Palestinian Authority (the government) requesting permission to take a team in to the hospital regularly. Admittedly, there was a brief moment when I thought, “oh no, another hoop to jump through” but I instantly recalled how God said I would get the blessing of “those in authority” and I laughed — I never considered He also meant THE Palestinian Authority! Awesome. I know that with the blessing of leadership, more breakthrough will come. And what-do-you-know? On April 29, the day I left Israel to be away a month, we got approval from The Palestinian Authority to basically do whatever we want to do in the mental hospital! YYYYYYYYYYeah!
Timing. Sweet timing. The turns of this journey, the spins of this carousel, were magnificently Spirit-led – magnificently out of my hands and yet, I could feel their sway in my heart. Because of His great grace and the teaching of the Holy Spirit, yet another ring went miraculously into the Clown’s Mouth! In moments I felt a twitch of impatience and I found the journey strange, but it all came together — and the bell is sounding, the lights are flashing. My heart is rejoicing!
What a joyous ride! And what a right and true rhythm to follow. <Jesus, thanks for leading!>
“The wind blows wherever it pleases.
You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.
So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”