I recently attended a women’s retreat up in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The setting was breathtakingly beautiful. The Aspen trees were golden and the skies were blue. We were experiencing unusually warm weather for fall time.
All around the grounds of the retreat center, wild life roamed. Mule deer and elk walked within arms reach of us. We hiked and took in the glorious sights. Just breathing in the mountain air felt refreshing and good for our souls.
The presence of God was thick.
As delightful as the surroundings were that weekend, the best part was the presence of God. The women who put together the retreat did an amazing job at leaving plenty of room for Holy Spirit to minister to the women in attendance.
I personally thrive and come so alive in settings where God can play and love on His kids. Every time we gathered together over the weekend, extended periods of worship happened. Voices throughout the room came forward to share encouraging pictures God planted in their hearts through prayer and times of intimacy with their Father, God.
Honestly, a true highlight of the whole experience was seeing so many different women, from all varying ranges of age groups and demographics, given space by the leadership of the event to participate and partner with God. How magnificent is the glory of the bride when everyone can encourage, pray, minister, and share God’s heart of love.
A picture of the Bride.
The retreat brought in amazing worship leaders and speakers. The women speakers did a tremendous job of teaching us and sharing inspiring testimonies. Even with the strength of all the guests asked to come and give, so much was poured out to us through the many women who came. Everyone was welcome to give and receive.
Friends and strangers now joined together as neighboring retreat attenders, extended hands and prayed for one another for healing, restoration, salvations, strength, peace…you name it. So many prophetic words of encouragement were given. The whole weekend I kept seeing snap shots of the Bride of Christ in her splendor.
No one was merely a spectator. Everyone was invited to bring something to the table of the Lord. We all worshipped, we all prayed for each other, we all sang songs of adoration to our king, we all interceded for break through for the family and friends not with us, and we all took part in what God was doing.
I was undone.
The conference theme was called undone, and boy was I ever. Many times through out the weekend I felt so seen and known by God. When you are aware of His eyes focused intently on you, it’s hard to keep yourself together. I became a blubbering puddle of thankfulness on more than one occasion.
Woe is me! for I am undone; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. ~ Isaiah 6:5 kjv
There were times in the weekend God spoke directly to my heart. Other times He spoke through the speakers or the other conference attenders sharing words in our group gatherings. During these moments, God gave me a few directional instructions for things He wanted me to engage in when I returned home.
The most impactful time for me; however, was during the prophetic rooms. On Saturday afternoon they had teams of women available to spend time with any one who wanted to get personal encouragement from the Lord.
At my home church, I am on a prophetic and healing ministry team. Anytime I attend a conference that offers this type of ministry, I always try to sign up for a time slot. I love the gift of prophecy and how God uses the gift to build people up.
I also think it’s extra fun to walk into a room of believers that I don’t know and have them tune into the father’s heart on my behalf. Usually if something is said that I realize they couldn’t know about me, it carries a little more impact. The correct information confirms they are hearing from God.
Sometimes when people know us, it’s hard for them to separate their own understanding of us from a new idea God wants to give them. The signals or channel they are trying to hear God through gets muddied with their own thoughts and familiarity. When we are asking people to operate in the gift of prophecy, we want them to share what God’s heart is saying, not their own ideas.
I’ve given and received words that feel generic, as though God would say the same thing to any one of us. You hear it coming out of your own mouth and think, “Of course God would say that, He says that to all His kids.” General words from God are still sweet and important. Sometimes we really do need to hear that God loves us, even when we understand God loves everyone.
The fun in the prophetic.
In life, I have made a point to surround myself with friends and a church family that value the prophetic gift of Holy Spirit. Frequently I receive impressions from God through the people around me about how they sense God sees me, things He is about to do in me, or purposes He has appointed for me to step into.
An important aspect of the gift of prophecy is that anything anyone shares with us from God’s heart is meant for us to take to the Lord ourselves, after hearing. The gift of prophecy starts a conversation. Prophecy is an invitation to dialogue with God about whatever the person delivered.
In our times of interacting with God in response to the word someone shared with us, He will confirm or disregard. Encouragement, directional words, or insight into our calling all need His stamp of approval that He in fact gave the word through the other person.
God doesn’t need to speak to us through others. He certainly can speak directly to us, but He loves to involve the whole body of Christ in what He is doing. He absolutely will reserve some information for us to discover by way of another person first speaking the thought to us directly from Him. Sometimes He will simply confirm things He already has been talking to us about.
A blank canvas.
A sweet moment of ministry came when I walked into my prophetic ministry appointment. I attended the retreat with my oldest daughter and a close friend from church. The retreat was put on by a church we love, but not the one we call home. Consequently, we didn’t know anyone else in attendance.
The two ladies who ministered to me during the time I signed up for did not know a thing about me. I never met them prior. When they chose to lean in to hear from God for me, they had a blank slate from which to work with. They knew nothing other than any impression they got from briefly visually seeing me and hearing me say, “Hi,” before I sat down.
The prophetic can certainly work through relationships. God has ministered to me mightily through friends who know me intimately and deeply, but what He was about to do at this appointed time had greater impact because the ladies did not know anything about me or my gifts.
A uniquely crafted word.
In preparation for my scheduled ministry time, I asked God to please give me a really specific word. I didn’t care what the word was about topically, I just wanted something pointed and directly for me.
As I mentioned before, I am in an environment where prophetic words flow freely. I give them to friends and strangers alike, and I receive them frequently too. Sometimes words God shares with us minister deeply right when they are shared, sometimes the impact hits much later, and sometimes they are simply nice and sweetly encouraging.
I had been in a season or streak of getting nice, but kind of generic words. I am so thankful for each and every boost God gave me at the right moment through people willing to step out and be His voice of encouragement. For some reason over this particular weekend, I really longed to hear something more tailored just for me in my “now” moment with Him.
I admit, I talk a loud to myself and God a lot. I always have. Sometimes the lines between just talking out loud and talking to Him aren’t real clear cut. I have come to find that He often credits even my tossed out comments to myself as prayer unto Him.
During my ministry time at the retreat God answered a specific comment I remember pondering out loud to myself months prior. I thought I was verbalizing a rhetorical question to myself. I don’t believe I actually asked God, but He answered my question that day anyway.
Through one of the ladies ministering to me, He showed her some of the gifting I operate in, answered specific questions I wondered about within the gift, and shared some upgrades He has in mind for me to step into concerning the gift.
Difficult roads to walk on.
I recalled telling a close friend sometime over the past year that I would really be fine if God told me to never use the gift in discussion ever again. I realize in writing that statement someone might read bitterness or frustration into those words, but I assure I was not either.
The gift in mention was one I loved utilizing. When I do and God is truly on it, I feel close to Him and others are drawn into His presence in beautiful ways. When I engage with His Spirit where this gift flows to benefit the body and myself, I feel alive and immersed in His goodness and glory.
My journey with the gift has not been easy, in fact it’s caused great pain at times. God sifted things of the world attached to the operation of the gift, and the enemy often came against me from so many different angles to try to get me to stop using the gift.
Gifts are fun, but not our identity.
Through the pain and struggle I came to understand in my deepest places that the gift did not define who I was or my value. People are funny when it comes to gifts, sometimes we are praised for our contribution and the next day criticized or misunderstood. God asks us to be faithful, love Him, and use the gift when He asks us, regardless of how people respond…favorably or not.
When we think our value is connected to the gift, we will feel great when it’s well received and like dirt when its not. Thankfully God took me off that roller coaster. Over the years He so instilled His pleasure in me no matter what I was doing or not doing well by man’s standards. I really found joy in simply belonging to Him.
I discovered so much excitement and enjoyment in partnering with God by using the gifts Holy Spirit gave me, but I knew they weren’t what made me special. God is what I need, His presence with me. If He chose to not touch others with His presence through me ever again, I would still know I am loved deeply by Him.
Gifts on the altar.
Each gift carries with it a level of responsibility and care to remain connected to God’s Spirit. He wants us to use the gift responsibly and in love. Sometimes that task feels easy and sometimes the weight of His glory feels like we might get crushed.
When I told my friend I would be okay if God asked me to stop using this particular gift, it was because I knew He loves me whether I have the privilege and honor of using this gift or not. I know when I do use the gift, He and all of heaven cheer me on, even if man doesn’t. I also know there is great responsibility with the gift, and sometimes my flesh finds hard what my Spirit is primed and excited to jump into.
I really felt like I had laid this gift appropriately on the altar. God was doing so many new things in me at this point in our journey together, I really thought He was shifting me into other areas of ministry and focus. I truly believed my days to use the gift He was about to so strongly affirm were winding down.
Stunned, I was stunned.
As you might imagine I was shocked and taken back a little in amazement when God so articulately emphasized His desire for me to continue using the gift. His heart to increase my ability to tune into His Spirit in greater clarity, and function in the gift with greater anointing, floored me.
I was ruined in a good way by God that day. The things He said in the way He said them, marked me. Heaven collided with my heart in such an impactful way, I know I will always remember what God did in me. How tender of Him to answer my desire to hear something uniquely specific too.
The most interesting development, I see now in hindsight as I look back over the years leading up to that retreat. I discover God was preparing my heart for that moment with those two ladies at the prophetic appointment. For instance, dreams I recorded from night vision I knew were from the Lord but whose understanding escaped me, now made sense.
I recognized God was telling me the same message over and over again through various means, not just dreams. Now, on this weekend on top of the Rocky Mountains what He was saying rang loud and clear. His words coupled with everything else that went on throughout the weekend truly created a mountain top experience with God.
Coming down from the mountain.
Sunday morning ended the retreat with one last gathering of a powerful time in worship. We also enjoyed a fantastic message from Kim Walker-Smith. Honestly, I would have to look back in my journal to remember exactly what she discussed, but I do remember something one of the pastors shared during worship.
The pastor reminded us that we all met God over the weekend in differing ways. One common reality we universally held was all of us were heading back down the mountain. The inevitable descent was not just a physical one, but also spiritual.
She went on to encourage us to not loose heart as we returned back to our daily activities and duties. A collective sigh released through out the room as the reality of leaving the “mountain top” with God set in. You didn’t need to operate in the gift of discernment to sense that many women were not ready to leave.
Jam packed and glory filled.
There is something electrifying about putting a bunch of believers into one small space for a weekend and going after the heart of God together. Reduce the equation further to a bunch of hungry, Spirit-filled women and something even more unique and special takes place. I can not describe the sheer glory of a room busting at the seems with tenaciously, passionate, Jesus-loving women. The environment is unparalleled.
If you have been a part of something similar you know first hand it’s hard to leave. If you haven’t experienced what I am describing, I’m sure you can image the pull to want to remain where God’s presence is so tangible and free flowing. Even people in the bible went through similar conflicting emotions.
Remember Peter on the mountain with Jesus? He absolutely understood the tension and draw of the mountain top experience. He wanted to set up a permanent camp and live up there.
Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother John to the top of a high and lonely hill, and as they watched, his appearance changed so that his face shone like the sun and his clothing became dazzling white.
Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared and were talking with him. Peter blurted out, “Sir, it’s wonderful that we can be here! If you want me to, I’ll make three shelters, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah. ~ Matthew 17:1-4 tlb
Everyone comes down from the mountain…even Jesus.
We all feel what Peter felt when we see and encounter God in His glory. Jesus revealed His true self before the men who accompanied Him on top of the mountain. Peter’s response to such radiance and awe dropping wonder is not any different than our own.
We want to stay in the moment forever. We want to set up camp and never come down. We want to live there permanently. But I want to share with you something that God spoke to my heart at the tail end of the weekend and on into the days following my descent down the mountain.
We must come down. Our journey back down the mountain and what waits for us at the bottom is just as important as what we experience on the top with God. He is in all of the journey. God does not want us to stay on top pf the mountain.
God gives us the mountain top experiences because he knows we must go back down.
The descent down the mountain can be a complete buzz kill. The mountain top moments with God are exhilarating and a spiritual high. Often the journey down signals a return to normalcy and the humdrum of life. We tend to think the bottom ushers us back into an environment where passionate encounter with God becomes few and far between, at least until we carve out time to get back up the mountain again.
However, I believe God showed me a different way and a new approach to traversing in His kingdom. God slowly revealed to me His reasoning for the mountain top experiences in the first place. He desires very much for us to see and experience His glory, and to be touched and transformed by our encounters with Him.
The special times He shares with us when we focus and carve out time for Him are delightful to Him. He purposely fills us with more of Him than we could ever contain or hold on to. He is the God of more than enough, so it is in His nature to bless us with more of Him than we know what to do with.
He gives us more because He is also a generous God. He is the God of abundance, so when He gives, He gives a generous and abundant measure. He also gives us more because He hopes we will emulate His qualities and share what He gives to us with others.
The point of the mountain top is for what’s waiting back on the bottom.
We experience what we do on the mountain top with God because He wants us to take the transformation, revelation, and encounter back down the mountain to the people waiting there. God meets us and gives us amazing times with Him to reveal more of Himself to us. He knows the more we experience Him, the more we will be able to represent His character in our own lives and to the people we come in contact with.
The mountain tops of life also unveil more of who we are because of Him. The encounter and deeper, new found revelations we come to embrace in regards to who we are as sons and daughters of God help us to actually live out the truth of who He has always made us to be. We can not act out of what we have not accepted as truth.
The special times we experience with God on the top of the spiritual mountain build us up and prepare us for life after we descend. The mountain top is not about an emotional good time, goose bumps, or a spiritual high. The mountain top really is about experiencing God through encounter so we can go forth from the encounter knowing God more clearly and therefore knowing ourselves more clearly too.
Our assignment awaits.
The mountain top helps us come alive to more of who God is, and what He has equipped and graced us with to make kingdom impact on the earth. Our assignment is to take the glory back down the mountain. People are literally waiting for the very things God deposited in us through our encounter with God on the mountain.
Look what met Jesus after returning from the mountain top with Peter, James, and John.
When they arrived at the bottom of the hill, a huge crowd was waiting for them. A man came and knelt before Jesus and said, “Sir, have mercy on my son, for he is mentally deranged and in great trouble, for he often falls into the fire or into the water; so I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn’t cure him.”
Jesus replied, “Oh, you stubborn, faithless people! How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to me.” Then Jesus rebuked the demon in the boy and it left him, and from that moment the boy was well. ~ Matthew 17:14-18 tlb
A whole other blog post could be dedicated to answering why the disciples couldn’t cast out the demon, or why Jesus was so frustrated that the disciples were still not understanding the authority Jesus appointed to them. For the purposes of our discussion, let’s keep to the point fitting…There will always be needs waiting at the bottom of the mountain following encounter with God.
Jesus is always prepared and ready.
Truthfully, Jesus did not need the mountain top moment to equip Him for casting out the demon. Jesus demonstrated over and over again, regardless of His location, His preparedness to connect with God’s Spirit and utilize the authority He fully understood He owned.
The account in Matthew 17 shows us that there will always be need waiting for us to bring kingdom action and glory to. People will always need us to release the revelation of God’s goodness and mercy to the situations they face. Coming down the mountain is not only a good idea, but absolutely essential and needed.
If Jesus heeded Peter’s advice to stay on top of the mountain, the boy would have remained in bondage and torment. The disciples would have lost another opportunity to learn from the things Jesus said and modeled. The disciples still needed to grasp the concepts of what Jesus gave them permission to, and who they truly were because of Him.
Commissioned to keep burning and light others fire.
When we encounter God on the mountain top we must come down. Our coming down is not an invitation to passionless living; just the opposite. You don’t have to calm down, disconnect to God, go back to boring routine, and live reduced to longing for another encounter.
Stay in encounter, stay passionate, remain excited, return to life and routine, but take all God did in you and give that goodness to the people in need at the bottom waiting for your return. When you do, you open yourself up for more of God.
It is possible to give away and become richer! It is also possible to hold on too tightly and lose everything. Yes, the liberal man shall be rich! By watering others, he waters himself. ~ Proverbs 11:24-25 msg
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. ~ Luke 6:38
God lives by the principles in His word. He gives with the desire to give more. He will give more when you’ve given away what He initially gave. We don’t have to stingily hold onto encounter, and then live desperately longing for more. We can confidently give away what we God deposits in us knowing He happily will encounter us again to give us more.
Welcomed to encounter daily.
Meaningful encounter is truly daily living in God’s kingdom. We are welcomed by God to live in connection to Him every day. Each moment is an opportunity to find Him on the mountain top. We don’t need a retreat, conference, worship service, or ministry appointment to encounter God.
Such times are helpful and great, but not necessary for encounter. Simply tune your heart to Him and what He is wanting to talk about, at any moment in your day, no matter what your hands are to. He will meet you and remind you of who He is and who you are because of Him.
When you do experience His presence, thank Him, and then look for who He highlights to your heart that might need the encouragement He just filled you with. Give away what He freely gave to you. Come down the mountain with purpose and clarity.
A blessing to descend with purpose.
I bless you to encounter God frequently and often. May your spirit tune to His through out your waking and sleeping. May your ears be open to hear Him, His heart for you, and His kind words for the people around you.
I bless your heart to remain open to receive from God all He wants to pour into you. I bless His words to find confirmation through many avenues, and build confidence in you to know His goodness and His pleasure with you.
I bless you to take the good deposits He places in your heart during these encounters and move towards others with courage and compassion. Give lavishly from the store house of good the Father placed inside you.
Come down, come down.
Come down the mountain excited and in anticipation for what meets you at the bottom. You are commissioned and equipped to give to others all God gives you. Enjoy the mountain top moments with God, but do not set up camp and never some down.
Come down keeping all the glory He bestowed on you and stirred up in you. Come down dripping and saturated in His presence, ready to transfer every bit away to those desperate for what you freely carry.
Come down with purpose and confidence to touch others with God’s glory. Minister out of your overflow of love God gives you because you belong to Him. Heal the sick, cast out demons, raise the dead, set captives free, and say to those with weary hearts that the kingdom of God is near.
Share your story.
Tell me about your mountain top experiences, I would love to hear about what God has done in your life. What has the descent from the mountain top been like for you? Have you struggled with re-entry at all? Do you have any fun stories of giving away what God worked in you during a significant encounter? Please share.