by Erin Erway
(reprinted with permission)
There is so much more to God than I ever thought. Countless hours I have spent reading, memorizing, trying to make sense of who God is to me. I listened intently at church and watched those who looked like they had a great relationship with God. I wanted that relationship too. I knew there had to be a key to it all. They must be doing something I needed to do. Some of them took notes at church, so I took notes. Some of them raised their hands while they worshiped, so I raised my hands. Some of them kept their Bibles open and followed along closely as the pastor taught. I did the same. Believe it or not, none of this helped me. It was actually quite frustrating to work so hard at knowing who God is and to get almost nowhere. Nevertheless, I continued to try to understand.
I became very involved in church. Four or five evenings a week I spent at church gatherings. I wanted so much to know God more. I was willing to do anything...everything it took to get what those other people had. When I interviewed them they would tell me to spend time with God. He is a person. The only way to get to know someone is to spend time with him. I took this into thought and, surprisingly, it led me nowhere. I was spending time with Him! I mean, I spent about five evenings a week with Him, and Sunday mornings, and I prayed every day, and I read my Bible, and I even worked at a Christian preschool where I taught Bible stories to the children. I added up the hours I was already spending with Him and tried to figure out how to squeeze in a few more godly activities.
Finally something happened, but it was not even remotely close to what I was aiming for. I became tired. In denial, I continued with my activities and hoped for a breakthrough. It did not happen. "Why is this so hard? Doesn't God want me to know Him? Is this all there is?" These questions swirled in my mind. I was too ashamed to admit that I did not understand who God is. I started using common sense and my interpretation of the Scriptures to get through life. Soon after, I stopped being the greeter at church. I stopped going to some of the meetings. I put on a happy face and went to the main church service, but inside I was hurt and needy. I began to emotionally withdraw from people, but at the same time I was angry that they did not know me. I felt stranded, disappointed, hurt, unsatisfied, and lonely. I did not know at the time that this was my view of God. I heard how wonderful, faithful and loving He is. I even spoke the Christian language with eloquence. I just did not get it and did not know how to get it.
Finally, I gave up on everyone. All those people I looked up to as close to the Lord were a disappointment. They had absolutely nothing for me. I often came late to church and left early. I decided that I was not going to do anything unless God told me to. Then, I decided I would do whatever I wanted unless God told me not to. Then I decided I was not going to eat solid food until I knew Him more. "God, I can't take it anymore. I can't do anything anymore. I am so tired! I just want to know you!" That day I poured my heart out to God on my living room sofa. I lay there helplessly crying. I was out of ideas of how to know God. "Please, God! I can't go on one more day if this is all there is. I know there is more. There has to be more...
My cries became gentle sobs. After four days with no food, I did not have enough energy to cry. I just lay there with my eyes closed, unable to move. First there was peace, then came hope, next came this overwhelming feeling of love. I saw my daughter in a pink dress holding a basket of flowers. She happily danced and twirled, tossing rose petals up in the air. She was giggling and looking at me as she continued dancing forward. I noticed I was wearing a beautiful white gown that sparkled and shimmered with gold accents. I followed the trail of flower petals and felt someone take my hand. I realized I was at my own wedding! I said "God, who is that man?" Tears began to roll down my face "Oh, it's you, Jesus."
This was the happiest moment of my life. I was, for the first time, having an encounter with God. I cried out to Him and He heard me. He answered me. He revealed Himself to me in a way I did not know Him before. For the first time I knew He had not forgotten me. I knew he loved me intimately and I was special. I did not know it could be this easy. After all my hard work I finally realized that everything I needed had been there all along. I knew this was the beginning of a relationship with the Living God. I did not know, however, how to get back to that place of communion with Him. For a while it would just happen every so often, but I could not get there myself. Through the course, Communion With God, I gained the confidence and ability needed to maintain an ongoing relationship with God.
The first obstacle I needed to conquer was becoming still. Many times I would be able to be physically still but my mind would race with thoughts of meetings, chores, grocery lists, plans, etc. I found the idea of writing them down usually helped but was also time consuming. I had to find a way to be able to focus without going through every thought in my mind because I am often juggling many things at one time. I read Psalm 46:10 "Be still, cease striving, let go, relax, and know that I am God." I asked God to help me understand the best way for me to do this. Then some thoughts came to me.
I noticed that all seven translations I read were written as a command. God would not command me to do anything I could not do. Now with the knowledge that God wanted me to be still and I am able to be still, I had to figure out how to be still. "Be still" and "relax" made perfect sense to me because they seemed to focus on physical movement. "Cease striving" and "Let go" had a different meaning to me. >From what do I have to cease striving? What do I have to let go of? The Good News Translation says, "Stop fighting." That caught my attention because it made me think that if I am not being still I am literally fighting. What was I fighting? I decided that I do not want to fight, especially with God. I also realized how much easier it is to not fight than it is to fight. Then the revelation came to me. What God is really saying to me is to stop striving for the things of this world. Let go of everything that keeps my focus away from Him. Do not have a fight about what is the most important to me. I do not belong to this world. I belong completely to God! In order to do all of this I had to recognize and understand (amplified) that He is God. This revelation has changed everything! All I have to do to become still is remember who He is and let Him take His rightful place as King of everything, including my thoughts!
The voice of God often comes in the form of a vision. I used to wait to hear an audible voice. I did not have the confidence that God was speaking to me unless I heard something with my ears. I often felt promptings, got ideas, visions and insights that did not seem to be my own. I did not know how to explain to others how I came to know certain things. Someone once said to me, "It is amazing the way God speaks to you." I did not deny it was God speaking to me. I just did not know for sure that it was Him so I did not want to say, "God said." So, although I did see visions before taking this course, I was not always sure if they were from God. I also did not recognize them as God's voice. Now, with my attention focused on Jesus I wait to see what He will speak to me (Habakkuk 2:1).
Recognizing that God does speak through vision has dramatically increased my ability to hear God. I did not regularly record my dreams before. Now that I know God uses dreams to speak to me I have started writing some of them down. Just the other night I had a dream. I was standing in front of a pool of water where a couple of people were swimming. I was wearing regular clothes but had no shoes on. I looked up toward heaven and felt energy being poured in to me. Then I stepped out on the water and felt the surface tension of the water strengthen as I took each step. I walked on water. I woke up with a cramp in my left foot that lasted all day. Every time I walked I remembered the exciting dream I had. The first interpretation I received from God was that He is giving me the ability to pull down His glory and the anointing to do what is impossible to man. The next interpretation I got is that I am able to walk over stormy weather or difficult circumstances. Both interpretations are very encouraging.
While in worship I often visualize what I am singing about. Many times God will use this time to take me places or show me things. One time during worship He appeared to me as a huge bird. He swooped me up and we flew straight up to the clouds. As we approached, the clouds parted and there was so much light I had to wait for my eyes to adjust. I was in a new place and I saw the throne of God suspended in the air. It was impressed upon me that He is exalted above everything and I was able to see His glory.
God has used vision for healing. He took me back to when I was being created in my mother's womb and allowed me to see His hand forming me and holding me. He showed me in every experience of my life growing up where He was. He told me He will never leave me, not then, not now, not ever.
God also uses vision to tell me about others so I know how to pray for them or to show me how He has used them in my life. One night I had a dream about some friends of mine who are evangelists. My life was transformed by their ministry about a year ago and I have been part of their intercessors team since. The dream showed me ways in which I have been touched and also a need they had. In the dream I was in a church building that had wooden stairs that lead up to a wooden room. My evangelist friends were ministering at this church and a group of us were waiting up in the room to see them. Someone came up with a box of Christmas gifts and handed one to everyone. I received three gifts. The person said some of you got a teacup and some of you got a CD. But this gift is reserved for close family. The first gift I opened was a teacup. It had a gold band around the edge. I looked around and saw that some others also had tea cups that matched but mine was different. Inside were a bunch of assorted band-aids sticking all over. The next gift was a CD. On the cover there were pictures of a band member that was injured and was in a hospital bed. There was a note attached from my friends daughter that encouraged me and also explained that though the musician was injured, he was going to be fine. The next gift I opened was a bowl. There was a band-aid in the bowl as well. I pulled the band-aid off and saw small writing at the bottom that said bring this bowl to this place to give money. When I woke up I knew that the teacup with the band-aids represented the comfort and healing I received from them. It also symbolized drinking the Holy Spirit, which is one of their messages, "Don't think...Drink!" The CD symbolized their encouragement and healing in the area of worship. The bowl was symbolic to prayer. It showed how they brought healing and restoration to my gift of intercession. I was also transformed by what was prayed over me by them. It also showed that they would need prayer for their finances during Christmas time and I should lift them up in prayer. It was also reserved for close family, which told me that we would have a close relationship or be in close contact.
My favorite way God uses vision is when He shows Himself to me and we just sit and talk. I love to be with Him and I am so thankful to be able to see who I am talking with!
Journaling has deepened my relationship with God. I write my questions, thoughts, hurts, fears and He answers me. The best part is not having to test everything right away. Instead, I can go on and on and then test it later. God has used journaling to heal me and remind me of His love for me. I remember feeling like I was unable to be forgiven or loved but most of all, upset that I let God down. This is what He said, "Erin, everything has been accomplished with Jesus. Every sin is already forgiven. The very moment you said yes to me as your God, you became united with my Son. You were co-crucified, co-buried, and co-resurrected with Him. Your old self is dead. It is no longer part of you! When you are tempted, remember that your sinful nature is gone. Do not forget who I am. You are a new creation in me and you belong to me!" I felt so relieved that I already had His forgiveness. I was also reminded that my sinful nature was crucified with Christ. I was able to embrace His forgiveness and the power of the cross!
God uses journaling to deepen my love relationship with Him. He says things to me that only someone madly in love would say. I often weep because His love for me is stronger than I can handle. He sings over me with beautiful music. He gives me intimate songs and I sing them back to Him. He transforms my journaling into music. With every moment we spend together, I fall deeper in love with Him. Here is a song that came from journaling.
"Oh God, my heart is overwhelmed with passion to know You even deeper. I will never be satisfied. Come! Take me away with you. I need intimacy. Show me your heart. Here I am with You in the heavens with no word, sound or gesture that could explain my heart. But, I will try. Yes, I will try! I will try, for You, I will try. I will express my love for You! I will sing, I will dance, I will play my guitar. With violin, I will serenade You. Let the piano play my heart. Can you feel my heart?"
"Sweet child, ravishing are you. My eyes of fire burn with passion for you. Do not cease to worship Me. I hear your heart. I feel your heart. Yes, here you are with me in the heavens. I will give you words, sounds, and gestures to explain your heart. So, worship Me! Worship Me! Worship Me! Come and worship Me! Come and express your love for me. Sing and dance. Play your guitar. With violin, come and serenade me. Let piano play your heart. I can feel your heart!"
(CWG-page 30, 4/01/02)
I cannot think of anything more beautiful than the sound of the Lord's voice as He is singing over me. For this reason I know how much He must love when I sing to Him. I know this is why so much of my journaling turns into beautiful love songs between us.
God also uses journaling to remind me of His promises. I can keep track of what He says and keep faith when I do not see the results right away. I just go back and read for myself what He said He will do. Then I remember that He always tells the truth and He always keeps His promises. He has perfect timing for all things to come to pass. I do not know His timing but, by writing it down, I am able to know they will come to pass because He said they would. When I receive a word or vision that I do not understand, I can write it down in my journal. This way I will be able to come back to it when I receive understanding. I do not have to worry about forgetting details or distorting it. It is clear to me that through journaling I can express myself to God and He can reveal Himself to me.
Journaling has also helped me learn to trust and share with the people who are my spiritual covering. It was hard for me to share my journal at first because I was not sure if I was really hearing from God. Just the act of sharing what I thought God was speaking put me in a place of submission to them. I know this is how God intends us to be with those He places over us. I had to trust that God would work through them and speak through them. I also had to trust that they would be gentle and patient if I happened to be way off from what God was saying.
I have a deep appreciation for the amazing people God has placed as counselors in my life. I am filled with gratitude and honor when I think of how carefully He chose those who would walk along side me and look after me. God used my pastor, Brent Lokker, to show me He was not a distant shepherd, but a close friend. Brent played a crucial role in healing my relationship with God. As I look back I see that Brent made tangible the type of relationship God wanted with me. Brent responded to me with love and care. He was always patient and kind. He checked in with me consistently and held me up in prayer. He was always there for me no matter what the situation or time of day. I knew he wanted nothing less than God's best for me. Most of all, I knew he liked me and wanted a relationship with me. I was able to understand God's love for me through Brent. Of all of the wonderful character qualities and giftings Brent has, I am drawn to his humble worshiping heart and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. He is a man that is desperately running after God. I see him not only as my pastor, but also as my friend and brother. I am truly blessed and honored to have Brent as a spiritual covering.
I never knew when I met Carla Blomgren that she would end up being my favorite friend. She is one of those people everyone wants to make a point out of talking to. I always said hi but that was about it because she was usually leading worship and did not have time to chat long. I remember one day when she was not leading worship and she came and sat by me. I was not sure why she sat there but I remember feeling so happy that of all the chairs she could have picked she chose the one next to me. All of a sudden we started seeing each other all the time. We got closer and we both felt God had placed us together. She also played a huge role in my healing from being hurt by a worship leader at my previous church. I was so damaged that I wanted nothing to do with being part of any worship team. Being the worship leader at our church, Carla was in the perfect position to pray through that with me. I received back the anointing for worship and was able to lead worship at the cell group and be on one of the Harp and Bowl Worship Teams. Carla is my big sister and spiritual mentor. She is the one I confide in. I know I can be completely honest with her about the most horrible things. I do not have to hide emotions or pretend because she loves me just the way I am. No matter what I say to her the end product is love, encouragement, prayer, and a new perspective of God's love. There are so many character qualities I admire about Carla. She has a gentle encouraging spirit and is in constant communion with God.
I went to a Charles Craft healing conference with Dan and Amy Knight about two years ago. At the time I did not know them well enough to go out of town with them, but they invited me in their car and even arranged for me to stay at the same Bed & Breakfast as them. We all went there to learn how to heal people. What really happened is we learned how to heal people and then Dan and Amy got practice on me as soon as we got home. They quickly became my close friends and I knew I could trust them with my deepest hurts. I spent many nights with them going through healing and deliverance. They arranged prayer times for me with Carla and Brent there also. They literally know my whole life from conception to present. I am grateful for the amount they have sacrificed for me. My favorite character quality in Dan is his encouraging and humble spirit. Amy is a prayer warrior who has her eyes fixed on the Lord. I know Brent, Carla, Dan and Amy are the people God has hand picked to watch over me. This course has revealed to me the importance of having spiritual covering and has deepened my appreciation for them.
Communion With God has been life altering. I never thought I could be this close to God. Honestly, I would have been thrilled with much less. A word here and there, an occasional vision or thought, even just understanding when I read Scripture would have been enough to sustain me. Now I know God wants to do more than sustain me. He wants a constant growing love relationship with me! He wants to answer me! He wants to have a two-way conversation with me! He wants to reveal His intimacy to me! I used to think a relationship with God consisted of me praying and believing He heard me. I thought knowing God meant knowing what the Bible said about Him. There is more to God than a concept and there is more to God than a story. Knowing Him means I am continually becoming more intimately in love with Him. It is also understanding who He is and what He has done for me. I cannot explain it better than Paul! "(For my determined purpose is) that I may know Him (that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly), and that I may in that same way come to know the power out flowing from His resurrection (which it exerts over believers), and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed (in spirit into His likeness even) to His death, (in the hope) That if possible I may attain to the (spiritual and moral) resurrection (that lifts me) out from among the dead (even while in the body). Philippians 3:10-11 (Amplified)
You can experience exactly what Erin has experienced, and live out of the voice of God every day. The following books will teach you step-by-step how to have communion with God: How to Hear God's Voice and Dialogue with God.
These books, as well as the accompanying CDs and Seminar Workbook, are also part of the foundational distance learning college course from Christian leadership University: REN103 Communion With God. Committing to this level of discipleship will allow you to fully integrate these principles at the level Erin described.