About seven months ago, I joined a weekly online “Spirit-Life Circle.” It’s a small group of people (my group members are spread across multiple countries and even continents) who practice listening to the Holy Spirit together. We ask Him a question, take 10-15 minutes to journal about it, and then read our prayer dialogue journaling out loud to each other and pray for each other. It is SO encouraging. Jesus said we can hear our Shepherd’s voice (John 10:4-5, 16, 27) and I know I can listen to Him at any time and in any place–I’m so grateful! Yet I’ve noticed that the insights or “revelations” He has given to me in the context of this group of other “sheep” have a special quality about them. I can reread my small group journals in the document I saved on my computer and see how He’s brought real changes to my life over these months: new habits I’ve formed, old habits I’ve started to lose, relationships He’s helped build and conflicts He’s helped reconcile.
I want to share some excerpts of those journal entries here on the blog. I hope that the content of what He’s showing me will encourage you. I hope even more that you will be encouraged to join a group, to start your own informal group, and/or to just grab a notebook and pencil, sit still, and ask Him a question. It can take less than five minutes for Him to say something that will change our lives! He is so eager to speak to us!
In our group, usually the group leader supplies us with amazing questions to pose to the Lord, often based on a Bible verse or story, like “See the empty tomb; see the linen cloth folded; see Jesus outside and ask ‘Why are You willing to go through this for me?” Other times a group member suggests an amazing question like “Lord Jesus, what is the next step You want me to take in building my friendship with You?” Sometimes we jump straight into journaling, but if there is a new person there, the group leader helps us get started. She leads us in fixing our eyes on Jesus by saying something like this while we all close our eyes and imagine it with her:
“Think of a special place where you’d like to spend time with the Lord.
It could be somewhere you’ve been, or want to be. A grassy field, the beach, anything special to you. This is the beauty of our imagination. The Holy Spirit’s coming to meet us will start there, in godly imagination God has given us.
See yourself as a little child between 5 and 8. At that age you operate from a simple mindset and are open to the spiritual realm.
Look around. Use your sense of sight, of hearing, of smell.
Look down. What can you feel under your feet?
Take it in, relax. Enjoy it.
Lift your eyes. In the distance, you see Jesus coming towards you. He has a huge smile, so happy to see you. So delighted. You might run up to Him and grab His hand, or He might run to you. Just spend time with Him and play with Him.
Now find a special spot where you want to sit with Him.
Take His hand, lead Him to that spot, sit beside Him. You might want to snuggle into Him. Look up into His face, into His beautiful eyes of love and acceptance. He’s smiling back at you.
Now ask Him your question…”
On one particular day, we didn’t choose a question. We just did the above process of fixing our eyes on Jesus, and then she said, “Just take the next 15 minutes to just play with Jesus. He wants to be your friend.” I know many people have found that invitation to just “play with Jesus” very healing and powerful, but this day, as we logged out of our Zoom room to have those private minutes with the Lord, I started writing to Him how I felt about it:
Oh Lord Jesus, I don’t want you to be my “friend” today, I want you to be my Daddy. I don’t want to play, I just want to be held. I just want to be held and held and held and never let go and then kissed and then held again. I don’t remember the last time I had a hug. I guess it was last Sunday. I’m too tired to play. I don’t even feel old enough to play. I feel like a little baby that just wants to be held. Just swaddle me and put me on Your heartbeat and keep me there, Lord, keep me there. It hurts so much that the people You’ve put me with in this season don’t like to give hugs. I trust You about that, but it hurts. I survive on intangible hugs from You, intangible hugs from angels, intangible hugs from faraway humans saying, “I wish I could hug you!” over Skype and Zoom. I just wish for the physical kind, Lord, people that smell like something. I wish for that. If I imagine really being with You like that, I don’t want to play. I only have fifteen minutes. I only want to be held.
Having poured out my heart to Him, I switched over to writing down the response I sensed from Him:
“Shhhhh. I know. I know. And I love that about you. Some mothers and fathers have very active and ‘hyperactive’ children who have lots of energy and just want to run and run all day long and maybe some of the night too, and their mothers and fathers are tired and don’t want to play and wish their children would settle quiet and just be held. Sometimes the mothers and fathers, not the children, are yearning for a hug. And sometimes I feel like that about you too, when you believe the lie that you need to run around and do things for Me or, worse yet, to please other people, more than you need to hear My voice and be still and filled with the Holy Spirit first. And so if this pain and sadness makes you lie quiet in My arms now and let Me stroke your hair, I am brimful of tender happiness, and happy tenderness, and love for you. I am not happy that you are sad, but I am so happy you are close to Me. In this fallen world, many people are too broken to give hugs to their children, or hugs to their parents, or even hugs to you. But you are not, and I am not. Your children, both spiritual and natural, will always know where they can always get a hug–from you. And that will point them to Me. And I love that about you.”
“I love everything about You,” I whispered back.
“I know,” He said. “And now let Me tell you the next assignment I have for you today…”
And the conversation goes on.
What question do you have for the Shepherd today?
What other sheep could you invite to listen to Him with you, and/or share what you hear together?