For everything there is a season
The Lord is near to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
‘Stand up in me.’
I first heard these words in October 2018. Lying down after a trying day, a wash of emotion passed over me. A deep sense of hopelessness pinned me down.
My spirit sunk as thoughts scrambled to make sense of the inexplicable overwhelm. And I began to openly cry.
After some minutes I heard a voice. A voice I knew without knowing how was Jesus.
‘Stand up in me’, he said.
‘Aye right’ I thought. ‘Easier said than done. And what good would that do anyway?’
I immediately regretted my ungracious attitude to the King of Kings. He, eternally forgiving, repeated:
‘Stand up in me Karolyne.’
And there and then, as I let his words settle in me, I felt a flicker, a flame, a pa-ching… hope struck alive in me again!
‘I can stand up in Jesus‘, I thought. ‘No matter I haven’t got a clue what that means… I’m going to do it anyway.’
BREAKING DOWN BEGINS
A month later, I had left the clinic I’d been working in for 4 years, ceased practising therapies, and moved cities to Dunfermline where a form of spiritual ministry and teaching began.
In this time, I entered an Episcopal consecration process of discernment. I was baptised Coptic Orthodox with the blessing of my Episcopal spiritual director, and pilgrimaged the early Celtic Christian sites of Britain. I sunk deeply into God and Christ, and integrated Jesus’ teachings and a Heavenly perspective into the broader cosmological understandings I live and work by.
As my daily prayer practice took shape, I asked Jesus into my mind, body and soul. At these times of deep peace, as I lay prostrated on the floor, I would sometimes hear him speak into my mind:
‘Stand up in me.’
I still didn’t know what that meant or how I could stand up in him. And when I asked, I was met with silence.
Then one night, sitting in the dark before a ‘Meeting the Beloved’ workshop, as I listened to worship music, the room opened up and filled with the Holy Spirit.
‘We move’, God’s voice boomed into the space.
Just as it was when I followed the call from Australia to Britain, He said the same words:
And added, ‘We go home.’
I was then shown a map of New Zealand.
Settling into this new season was not smooth at all. I’d been in a season of building-up for years. And so to move into a time of breaking down and dismantling was one of the hardest things I’ve done.
I had great reluctance to move. To begin with, I didn’t want to live in New Zealand. My life here has been deeply fulfilling. I’m part of loving communities. It’s taken me so long to build my network of wonderful students and clients, and Scotland was a place I finally felt at home. So when I got word to move, I was like a child throwing a tantrum in the face of her Father’s words: ‘Noooo’, I said aloud.
It took a lot of adjustment. It is still taking a lot of adjustment.
Yet God’s Word was repeatedly confirmed to me by Christian and non-Christian prophets alike, in scripture and the flow of circumstances that proceeded that night. And while we always have free will, I could not ignore the very thing I teach: I had to move in the Spirit of Truth.
I’ve learnt a lot in this seasonal change – about myself and others. One thing I found immediately was the strength of opposition that can come when resolved to move in God.
This ‘enemy’ or spirit of inequity borrows into and exploits weakness. It undermines our will in God. Its insidious poison gives rise to the spirit of division. And that spirit will separate parent from child, friend from friend, lover from lover, wife from husband, companion from companion, business partners, communities, groups – it won’t matter the connection; once the enemy gets in people are blinded by their own false pride and indignation. And so it was with me and among people I held dear. And with this, as ‘the enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat’(Matthew 13.25), seeds of doubt began to sow in me.
Praise God I now know the deceiving tactics and can recognise the great challenge of remaining with an uncomfortable season. Now, I have complete faith that God will fight for me and give me victory against my enemy (Deuteronomy 20:4).
I didn’t have that faith when thoughts turned to betrayal, hurt, anger, rejection. I wasn’t in God’s strength on the Sunday I told two dear friends of my plans to leave, and watched their crushed faces; or after falling out with those I love most; or when I declared my intention to rethink moving altogether. I didn’t know about the enemy then. I only knew that something was broken.
And that something was me.
The Sunday evening I returned from my friends at church I cried so hard. Never before have I wept such a flood in my life. Uncontrollable, ruined crying that had me wandering the house blindly hitting up against walls and doorways. Tears just pouring down – where do they all come from? It was as if the love of my life was dead. And it was existential too – a torrent of grief. An inconsolable pain as if I was crying for all of humanity; as if all the pain of the world was coursing through me.
Collapsed just wanting to die really, begging to die: just take me please, utterly broken, sobbing and sobbing and sobbing. Finally, leaning up against my bed, completely spent, I fell asleep. In and out of dream for however long, I dragged myself out of this fitful slumber, opened my eyes…
…and there was Jesus.
‘STAND UP IN ME’
‘Stand up in me’, he said.
Jesus was just standing right in front of me. I kid you not. And he was actually talking to me.
His arm was extended down to me as if offering me a lift up.
‘Stand up Karolyne. Stand up in me‘, he repeated.
And he leant down towards me. His hand extended out, wanting me to take his arm, he said again: ‘Stand up in me’.
And me being me, I made sure that it was actually the son of God and not some enemy trickery. I remembered Tamav Irini saying to St Mercurius when he came to her: ‘Now do the cross, and tell me the Lord’s prayer’. And as this thought crossed my mind a kind of smile appeared on Jesus’ face. He had straightened up, acknowledged my reference, and leant forward again, saying:
‘Stand up in me. I am of God’.
I took his arm, and he lifted me up. I had this incredible sense of weightlessness. I am saved. And I just stood before him, looking into eyes of Light as he repeated:
‘Stand up in me. Walk with me. Follow me.’
And I asked ‘Where?’
And Jesus said, ‘Home. Come Home’.
I looked at him and he continued, ‘Follow your heart’.
And then he showed me the sanctuary at the monastery in New Zealand, which is what my Heavenly Father had shown me when He told me we were moving. And Jesus showed me the picture at the far end of the room – a sacred painting of St Peter’s Monastery on Mount Athos – a representation of himself, of Christ.
And he said, ‘Come home Karolyne’.
And there was a great sense of Peace and rightness that fell upon me then, as if I had always been moving towards this moment.
I let that rightness settle in me.
Jesus waited then said, ‘One more thing’.
I looked at him, and he bade me, ‘Breathe the Gospel Karolyne. Breathe the Gospel.’
And I acknowledged him, blinked and he was gone.
We all move through seasons of change; seasons that we often don’t recognise or understand, rally against and try to move away from; seasons our soul is moving us in for a plan we cannot see, but are invited to trust in.
Some of these seasons are laid out in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, which begins, ‘For everything there is a season, and a time to every matter under heaven’. My season of breaking down is coming to an end. Broken, I have stood up in Christ. I begin to live his Gospel, even now as I finalise the remaining things to organise for my move.
This was a hard season. The hardest. Of course, they are not all like this… This was a time of loving and hating, mourning and dancing, embracing and refraining from embracing, weeping and laughing, a time to die and a time to be born all within the season of breaking down. It revealed that we can experience many mini seasons within the broader seasons of God’s plan and divine movement in us.
So, how might we navigate these seasons?
- Firstly, we recognise the season we are in
- We adapt our thinking and behaviour to suit it
- We trust in God that this season is right for us now
- We allow the season to run its course
- We vigilantly and diligently remain with our season despite disruptions
- We surrender some more
- We act according to the season
- We notice seasonal change and welcome the shift when it comes… flowing into our next season…
Most importantly, we know that God is working a magnificent plan for us.We might not have to be broken as I was to surrender to this plan; we might simply have to seek God’s will in all we do, and he will show us which path to take (Proverbs 3:6). Mine is clear – I am heading home, and I am living the Gospel – Jesus’ teachings – and embracing this season in its fullness!
Whatever season we find ourselves in right now, my prayer is that we are able to embrace it and trust, and open to all the fruits that come with such faith.