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Have you ever felt lost?

Posted Saturday 22 June 2024

Have you ever felt lost?  I have! I have a legendarily poor sense of direction! On a mission trip to Guernsey years ago, I wasn’t even allowed to fetch the team car on my own as they assumed I wouldn’t make it back!! So, for me in particular, Bradford Parkinson is a hero. (More about him later).

Some time ago I ran a break-out group at a HIH conference. I aimed to celebrate the dreams and successes of attendees. As it happened, going around the room, person after person shared failed dreams, stalled projects, or a lack of impact in their role. An overwhelming sense of guilt and inadequacy filled the room. This was a battle-worn and tired group of caring souls who truly felt lost. Thankfully, in that moment God gave me a download on how to release freedom into the group and we ended up profoundly encountering His love and grace.

The Covid pandemic was hard for many of us. Now we face pressures of low staff, poor morale, strikes and a system under extreme pressure, meaning many of us are now locked in survival mode. Dreams have often been ditched in exchange for simply surviving each day. Any aspirations to share Jesus have similarly been reduced to merely hoping to keep your temper in check and avoid losing your rag! Releasing the kingdom has been squashed out of the day-to-day. God reminded me recently of that break-out group, and I wondered if we are back to that sense that we’re not doing enough, being enough, for Him. A sense of shame, guilt or failure can lurk. (Or is that just me??) Perhaps it’s time to release a message of freedom once again!

Years ago, Father God gave me a life message about Luke 15:22 (the Prodigal Son.) My focus: the three gifts that the good father gives to the newly-returned son. Normally I concentrate on the ring, (“the ring thing”, for those of you who know). However, there is an equally wonderful truth surrounding the third gift, the sandals! At the risk of destroying a perfectly good preach, the first gift, the robe, symbolises the restoration of righteousness (Is 61:10). The second gift, the ring, signifies the restoration of the son’s identity and the re-establishment of his authority, (Gen 41:41). The sandals are rarely spoken about, but have their own truth, freedom!

In the culture of the day, bonded slaves went barefoot. If you wore sandals, you had authority, you were a family member, free from the obligations of work. Thus, sandals were a gift of freedom from obligation; the perfect answer for a son planning to say, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.”

Why does this come last? Because unless the son understands that he is forgiven and restored, he can’t experience freedom as a reality. You need to know the ‘who’, before the ‘do’! The sandals say “You don’t need to work for my affection.…we’re just doing life together, that’s an end in itself!” We are children of the King! He celebrates us for who we are, not for what we do. He loves the journey, not the endpoint. He is joyous just because you take a breath, and He silences angels when you utter the smallest, quickest prayer!

Father can release the Kingdom at any moment you choose to engage with Him, even on the most random occasions. He reminded me that His greatest miracle through me came at a most inconvenient, unspiritual time. A secretary in my GP practice was dealing with an evolving life-threatening condition. I had no idea whether she was a believer, but as is my habit with those who mention being ill, I offered to pray with them if they were ever interested. One morning, in the middle of my clinic of patients, I inconveniently ran out of ink for the printer. Leaving my patient behind, I dashed upstairs to the office where the ink cartridges were stored. The room was empty apart from the secretary. As I grabbed the cartridge, she said quietly, “I’d like it if you prayed for me, if you are free?” “I’m not really”, was my instant, unspiritual thought! “I’ve got a patient downstairs and I’m already running late”, quickly followed in my head. Yet I knew this moment might never come again. Empty offices are rare! So I stopped and I prayed for her. To this day I can’t even remember what I prayed. But I can tell you it was short! I can also confirm there was no angelic visitation or tangible presence of God! I thought nothing more about it until a few months later when the beaming secretary told me she had been completely healed and stated that the consultant had spontaneously called it a ‘miracle’. No duty, no slog… just me and God being together and living life together. After a chance comment, a flash of Spirit, a chink in a busy day to allow Kingdom to flow. Free to be me, not another duty on a tick-list. I get to live my life free of guilt and obligation; just me and my Father, seeing what we can achieve together.

And Bradford Parkinson, what life-changing heroic work did he do? Why, the invention of the Sat Nav of course!!

With every blessing for a freedom-filled life,