Spending time on my face in the presence of God one day I heard a whisper in my spirit “Henrico go back to Damascus”. At first I was not sure what God wanted to tell me but instantly I was reminded about a very special encounter I had in the garden of Gethsemane in 2016 when my wife and I went on a sabbatical for 3 weeks in Israel. After spending almost an hour in the garden God took me into this vision where I saw Jesus as he knelt down against an olive tree as the day of His crucifixion drew near. I heard as Jesus spoke to God saying “Abba Father is there no other way that we can do this?” Then what followed is what hit me the hardest as Jesus continued, “Yet let Your will be done”. Luke 22:42
I realized once again that God in His glory chose to become man and dwell among us. How personal God made it to want to experience every emotion that we do to show us that there is nothing that we go through that He doesn’t understand. Jesus knew what was coming and yet he yielded to Gods will. In that moment my eyes shot full of tears and I spoke these words to Him. “Abba Father I remember in the beginning when I gave my heart to you I was willing to do anything for You, lay down my life but I acknowledge that as I stand here today my heart is at a place where I expected You to do everything for me”. In the garden that day I once again surrendered my life and my heart putting it back on the altar. Now almost a year later God reminds me of the same thing.
To come back to the whisper of Damascus, in this season of my life I was reading through all the letters from heaven that Paul wrote to the church and if there is one thing that Paul communicated well was the fact that the church would not see him but that they would see Jesus. Paul made it very clear that it was no longer him living but Christ through him, a life fully surrendered to the anointed One.
Galatians 2: 20
My old identity has been co-crucified with Messiah and no longer lives, for the nails of his cross crucified me with Him. And now the essence of this new life is no longer mine, for the Anointed One his life through me!
With that whisper in mind I went back to Acts 9 where Saul was on his way to Damascus and Jesus appeared to him. With only one encounter with Jesus, Saul (representing the old man) died and Paul (the new man in Christ) was born. The story goes on where Paul was blind for 3 days and stayed in Damascus. God sent a prophet to pray for him and anoint him. When the man prayed for him he was instantly filled with the spirit and his eyes opened as if scales fell from them. Do you see the power of one encounter with Love Himself, Jesus Christ. Paul’s life was never the same again and was never his anymore.
Later in Galatians Paul speaks to the church and says that he could’ve gone back to Damascus but he chose to go back to Damascus for 3 years.
And I chose not to run to Jerusalem to try and impress those who had become apostles before me. Instead, I went away into the Arabia desert for a season until I returned to Damascus, where I had first encountered Jesus.
The moment I read this the penny dropped in my spirit and I knew what God wanted to tell me. Paul went back to the place where his new life began. He went back to the place where he encountered the glory and unfailing love of our Lord Jesus Christ. He went back to relive every moment. HE WENT BACK TO HIS FIRST LOVE!
I asked God why He wanted me to go back to that place.
His answer was simple: “My son I want to remind you of the day when your life was no longer yours” and He took me to John 12:25 “Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
In a time where I battled with a lot of things in my heart like pride, selfishness and self-righteousness Gods message to me was very clear yet wrapped in love, to go back like Paul did to my first love to yield and surrender my heart once again for His will to be done. If we allow the Holy Spirit to keep us accountable and guide our every step we will live in Gods will and understand how His kingdom works. God felt it necessary that these issues in my heart be addressed in order for me to carry on with my journey and I honour and respect Him so much for that.
God has called us to live a life hidden in Him, a life surrendered to His hands and His will. This was the way He designed it to be so that the world will experience His glory wherever we go. One of our greatest hearts desires should be that our colleagues, spouses, family members, children, friends, our enemies and every person we encounter would experience Him face to face, would experience a love that they have never felt before when they look at us as sons of God. This was Paul’s mission as he wrote in Philippians..
No matter what, I will continue to hope and passionately cling to Christ, so that he will be openly revealed through me before everyone’s eyes. So I will not be ashamed! In my life or in my death, Christ will be magnified in me.
May you be encouraged to live a life on the altar and surrender yourself to His will for your life. You are only truly in control when your life belongs to Him.
I encourage you to surrender yourselves to God to be his sacred, living sacrifices.
We are called for a life on that altar. A submissive, humble, teachable, willing, peaceful heart releases the most pleasing fragrance to our King and that is a heart the God delights to works with.