Monday, 1 May 2017

Elevation - through the Patmos Experience

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I am reading a book – okay, I have already finished it.  The book is Lifted from the Pit of Brokenness
and Despair, subtitled, A Testimony in Healing and Restoration, by Anastasia Queen.

My mother gave me the book.  She bought it at the prayer session she attended recently.  It is a good book.  Anastasia has dedicated the book to the courageous men, women and children who died in the 1994 Rwanda genocide, but above all, to all the survivors, whose testimonies, though in no way similar to hers, but in many ways - their courage became her courage, their strength became her strength and their hope her hope.  I find that profoundly insightful – the transference and the passing on of the determination and expectation for and of life.

Anastasia tells intimately of her life’s hurt in a relationship, the effect it had on her decisions and actions, the pain and the anguish that she felt, and of the path she took to live again, when God breathed life anew into her.

I have carried away from the book two things.  The ‘Patmos experience’ and the ‘Gethesemane experience’.

Anastasia heard about the ‘Patmos experience’ when she attended a gathering at an Evangelical church in Nairobi, and a pastor preached about it.  He said this about it.  
“Patmos was the island where John was when he wrote the book of Revelation.  The pastor described Patmos as a place that was isolated and lonely.  God allowed John to go through a trying experience that eventually landed him in Patmos.  It was while at Patmos that God gave John a revelation.  He equated this experience of John with experience in our lives where god allows us to through painful situations which leave us isolated and lonely.  We find ourselves in a ‘Patmos’ where He wants to give us a revelation.  Patmos is also a place where we encounter God and we are never the same again.  In Patmos, songs and books are written; out of Patmos comes testimonies and sermons’.“

After I read it, I started wondering about the various stages we go through in our lives, the time in years, the growth and the stagnation, the changes and constancy, the varying seasons.  From personal experience, I have realised that when everything is smooth and calm, I am constant, just there, and not really getting major things done, just dealing with life’s humdrum.  I have found that if there was no pain, struggle or isolation – arising from the trying situations, there is just no significant movement in my life. 

And as I am wondering, I am remembering my oft spoken prayer. “Lord let it count.  Let everything that I go through, let everything that happens to me count.”  I pray this prayer often.  I pray it when I am beset by troubles and strife.  I pray it as I go through them. 

I do not like that I pray this prayer often.  It means that I am often in angst.  Troubled.  Anguished.  I pray it again - Lord let it count.

I pray this prayer also - because I cannot afford to miss what makes each fraught encounter count – for otherwise, I might need to go through it all again, and I really cannot afford that, no way – once is enough I pray.  So Lord, Let it count.

I wonder too if we would get to where we are going, be able to get to where we are going if we had no ‘Patmos experience’.  Do we need that experience to be fruitful, to be able to get into our purpose process? I think we do.  At least for a person such as myself. I have found that my ‘Patmos experiences’ produce the most impactful change in my life.  Going through tying experiences that eventually lead to lonely and isolated place, brings me time and time again to what Anastasia says – encounters with God where revelations come.  Various forms of output.  Resulting in actions, internal growth, encounters, interactions, that lead to impact on my life and that of others – that which I think of as outcomes.

I’ve sometimes thought of my God given life as input, process, output with an outcome at the end of it all.  Organic and iterative.

Inputs; Situations be they calm ordinary and stressful and damaging.  People, the lovelies and the not so lovelies [dare I say nasties].  Relationships with spouse, children, parents, siblings, colleagues and professional peers. Abundance and provision and sometimes lack.  And I.  The person I am. I am an essential input into my own life. 

Process; What I do to go through each moment, each day.  The things I do from moment to moment, day to day, my plan of life.  The work that I do.  The things I do to maintain my life with my creator including  reading His word, praying, fasting, participating in sacraments, reading Christian literature, listening to Christian songs, attending retreats, getting spiritual direction.  The coaching and mentoring I get and also pass along to others.  The process of living and becoming.

Output; My products and services, internal growth – mind, will and emoations, that just get me into the ‘flow of life’ as one of my life coaches calls it.  And the lessons that I carry home with me. 

Outcome; The long term, is living a life focused more on the spirit, with a mission and purpose defined with an ultimate life vision which means I am homeward bound.  The outcome is more than today.  It is birthed continually in all my moments in my journey, collectively leading me to a place larger than a goal, a purpose for my being, my life reason. To my home where my heart is. 

And then as I journey along, processing my life so to speak, come those ‘Patmos experiences’, external and sometimes internal aspects, that turn everything all upside down and on its head, and propel and spiral me to new directions, new experience, new elevations.


The ‘Gethsemane experience’ and its reflection in my life is a story for another day.

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