I was Afraid, Now I am Astonished
This past weekend I was graced by God to go to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania for the National Leaders and Ministries Conference with the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR). There was around 600 people ready to receive God’s word and praise Him in song. Growing up in the Catholic faith and walking with Jesus since the age of 16 in the CCR I had experienced Jesus many times through the power of His Holy Spirit. But this was not like any experience I had in the past, this was more, it was as though one Franciscan priest said at the conference, “the infilling and expanding of a balloon more than it had been in the past.”
Many shared their testimony on the way back to Toronto, and as I reflected on what I had experienced that weekend, I knew that is was a testament to God’s glory. But I was at a loss for words. I tried to describe my experience as incredible, or amazing but it was greater than that. Jesus brought me back to a verse that He had revealed to me on the Thursday night before our departure, and it was: “They had been afraid; but now they were astonished” (Luke 8:25 Catholic Pastoral Edition). This was taken from the reading in St. Luke where Jesus calms the storm. I had read that story many times, but I had never noticed that verse. In a matter of seconds Jesus changed their lot. What was impossible for them, was not impossible for Him.
These past few months have been particularly difficult for me, with many trials. I felt as though I was in the desert and the wilderness for so long. My soul was tired, and although God was providing streams in the desert and bread from heaven, I was waiting for his salvation and expecting deliverance. That’s why when I read that verse from St. Luke on Thursday night, I heard God say to me “My daughter, you will understand what I mean by this in no time, just wait and you will be astonished.” I couldn’t wait to see what Jesus would do that weekend, because my soul was crying in the dark night. And that is exactly what I was thinking about on the bus ride back to Toronto, 5 hours of reflection on pure astonishment. Astonishment of the power of the Holy Spirit, His healing power, His love, His deliverance, His joy- pure joy in the Lord that I had not experienced for a long time to the fullness I am now.
The Lord revealed to me what He had done in my heart that weekend. He met me where I was.
He brought me to a place where I was overlooking a mountain in a dark valley. The sun was blocked by the mountain and was overshadowed by a dark cloud. But it was not like any mountain I had seen before, with the usual snow scattered on the top and ravines down below (you know, like Banff Alberta). It was dark and soily, without any plant life but rather weeds growing the desert below. As we were praising God in song, in one voice and with all our hearts during the young adult track, I saw an earthquake overtake the mountain and the land, the land shook so hard that it cracked the mountain in two. Out of the mountain came a trickling of water until it became a stream flowing down the mountain into the parched desert sand. The stream became a river gushing forth and filling up all the dry places and sweeping away the weeds like a broom. The sand became saturated until plants started springing up and growing. The Lord revealed to me that this was His Living Water, his Holy Spirit gushing forth from the impossible and hurting places. Healing my heart. The water was gushing forth so fast and in such large amounts that it became a sea and covered the plant life. Four walls surrounded the land and the mountain showing me that this was my house, my heart. The desert and the mountain had been in my heart but it was no longer seen. The water had covered the mountain and the desert so completely that the inside of my house was drowned with water and filled up to the top of the ceiling. I was there in my house swimming in the ocean of living water, I was being drowned in the ocean of his mercy. But soon enough I was to open the door of my house and let the water gush forth in to the desert around me, and I was only to be refilled with his love. And yes, I was afraid, but now I am astonished!
Through this experience I also learned more deeply the importance of waiting on the Lord and trusting in Him. For a very long time I asked Jesus to deliver me from the hard places in my life. I attended prayer meetings, adoration and had personal prayer, but there was silence. In the silence I heard a soft whisper “wait on me, salvation is swiftly coming.” For months on end, I heard the following verses:
- Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Ps. 27:14
- It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lam. 3:26
- Will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? Luke 18:7
- For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. . . . For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. Ps. 62:1, 5
I heard those words and I can tell you that my soul grew weary of waiting on Him. The moment when I felt like giving up, the moment when I felt I could not go a step further was when Jesus broke into my heart at the National Conference in Pittsburgh. It was in praise and worship that Jesus broke the chains and the walls crumbled. The Bible says that God inhabits in the praises of His people (Psalms 22:3). In other words, the Holy Spirit dwells in our praises. It was exactly in His praises that He gave me freedom.
So let us ever praise Him, even when this fragile life of ours become dreary, let us ever praise Him and He will drown us in His Love. Cling to Him and let Him set a fire in your soul!