As I pondered what was the message that God had for his people today, I had the following vision:
I was taken up by the Lord, and He showed me His people Israel during the time of the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. The people had rejected Him and turned to other gods. God said to me, "Look at these people." And I saw a people who had gone so far as to offer their own children to these strange gods. They were looking for anything to substitute for the God who had given them all they had, and who had destroyed their enemies.
Yet God asked me to look further to see how the people of Israel got to this place. He showed me that there were times when they followed hard after Him, and served Him. Then they became complacent and apathetic about being with Him. They drifted away from a desire to be with Him. Many got busy doing this thing, and that thing, and forgot to take time to be with Him. Much of what they were doing was good, but the business of doing the good things crowded out the best thing, which was being with Him.
I saw that as these people drifted further and further from God, they became more self-absorbed. Eventually they found themselves in the place that even when they felt drawn to be with their God, they rejected the wooing of the Spirit. They could not get past their selfishness, and the conviction that came with God's presence was more than they could stand. After time, this process led to a complete rejection of God, and a turning to other gods that would allow them to live in their selfish desires.
After seeing this God asked me, "Barry, what was My message to these people who had rejected me?" I said, "God, I do not know." He told me to look closely to what the prophets had said to them. I asked the Spirit to help me see the heart of the prophets' messages. Much of what I saw in these messages was a promise of coming destruction, and a call to repentance to avoid the certain destruction. The Spirit said, "Look closer," and I did. He showed me the heart of God calling the people to come back to the place where they longed for Him to be their God. To return to a heart attitude like the woman in Song of Solomon, who longed to be in the presence of her bridegroom.
I could feel the pain in God's heart as He said to me, "Barry, you have asked me what message I have for My people today. I tell you, it is the same message I gave Israel those many years ago. My heart aches to have My people come to be with Me. I weep when I see them drift away from Me. They are My bride, and I long to be with My bride more than anything. Yet, they do not have time to be with Me."
As I thought about why it is so easy for us to drift away from the one who loves us so much, I heard the Spirit speak to me. He said, "How much do you want to?" In my mind I asked, "Want to what?" Again I heard, "How much do you want to?" "Lord, what is it you desire me to want?" Then I heard, "How much do you want to --- be with Me?"
"Oh God, I want to love You. I want to serve You. I want to see You. I want to hear You. I want to touch You. I want to." God stopped me, and I heard again, "How much do you want to --- be with Me?" This startled me. Wasn't I saying that I wanted to be with Him?
I could not understand what God was trying to tell me. So I asked Him to explain what I was missing. He said, "Barry, I know that you want to be with Me. I am asking you how much do you want to be with Me. I am asking you how important is it to you." I thought to myself that this was like Jesus asking Peter if he loved Him. So I replied, "Lord I want to be with You more than anything in the world."
He said, "I know you do." What a relief, God knows that I want to be with Him more than anything in the world.
Just as I finished this thought, I heard the Lord ask me, "Barry, what is that in your hands?" I had not realized that I had been carrying anything in my hands, but when I looked I saw all of my cares, problems, and burdens in my hands. So, I answered the Lord, "These are things that I cannot take care of myself. These are things that I am bringing to You so that You can take care of them. Once You take care of things, I can love You more, serve You more, see You clearer, hear You clearer, I can ."
Again God stopped me and asked, "How much do you want to --- be with Me?"
"Lord, You said You know I want to be with You more than anything in the world." "Yes, I know, but do you only want to be with Me so that I can take care of your burdens? Do you only come to Me to have Me do something for you? I am asking you to lay those burdens down and come only to be with Me.
Come to be with Me, even if I do not take that burden from you. Do you want to be with Me that much?"
"Lord, Your Word says that You will take my burdens for me. Your Word says that You are my provider, my healer, my peace, my." "Yes, My son, I am all of those things, but I am asking you to lay those things down to come only to be with Me, not to get something from Me. Do you want to be with Me that much?"
I began to realize that God was only asking what I want from my children. I want them to want to be with me regardless of want I can do for them. It broke my heart to think that over the years, most of the time I wanted to be with Him when I needed Him to do something for me. My needs had become more important to me that just wanting to be with Him. As this sunk into my heart, I asked God to forgive me for being so selfish. I asked His forgiveness for such a one-sided relationship. I answered His question, "I want to learn to want to be with You more than having You take care of my burdens." The Lord replied, "My son, I will teach you."
So the learning process began. He asked Me to set aside time just to be with Him. Not to ask Him for anything. Not to pour out my burdens on Him. Just to worship Him. Just to thank Him. Just to be with Him. I was learning the answer to His question, "How much do you want to --- be with Me?" Would I stick with it? Or would I find myself slipping back into spending more time needing Him, and less time wanting to be with Him. Or would I find that I wanted to be with him more than these things. I thought to myself, "I am determined to learn to how to just want to be with Him."
Just as I finished this thought, I heard the Lord ask me, "Barry, what is that in your hands?" I said, "Lord, there is nothing in my hands. I have laid down my burdens so that I could come and just be with You." "My son, I know, and I am pleased that you want to be with Me that much. Yet My son, there is something in your hands." I was afraid to look. I did not want to find that I had failed. But the Spirit compelled me to look. In my hands I saw those things that had caused me much pain. Those people who had hurt me. Those things that had not happened the way I had hoped. My disappointments and my pain. I realized that my times with the Lord had dug up deep-seated things that had turned to bitterness, anger and resentment. I wanted to cover these things up and hide them. The Lord said, "Barry, I know this is painful. I know you do not want to see these things. I love you and I want you to let these things go. I want you to forgive, as I have forgiven, and I will help you put these things down." I wanted to hide. I felt that I had good reason to keep some of these things. These people had hurt me, and I knew it would be hard to let go. Then I heard the Lord, "How much do you want to --- be with Me?" I knew what He was saying. I fell to my knees and wept. I asked Him to help me to forgive, and let go.
The learning process continued. He showed me that as I learn to just be with Him, He would reveal those things that I needed to drop out of my hands, and He would walk me through the pain. In my vision, I spent a long time going through this process. It seemed like a long time had passed, and I could tell my relationship with the Lord had grown. We spent many days talking, and just being together. I thought to myself, "How wonderful it is to be learning to just be with Him."
Just as I finished this thought, I heard the Lord ask me, "Barry, what is that in your hands?" During my learning process, He had been revealing things in my hands that He had been uprooting, and He was teaching me how to drop them quickly. But I knew this was different. I knew He was saying that there was something else in my hands. Yet, no matter hard I tried to see what it was, I could not see what He was asking me to see. I cried out to Him, and said that I could not see anything. I asked Him to help me see what in my hands was more important then being with Him. It was then I could see that the only thing in my hands was the dreams, promises and destiny that He had given me over the years. So I held them up to the Lord, and said, "Lord, these things are the hope You have given me. They are all I have left, and I give them to You to use however You choose." The Lord responded, "I am not asking you to give them to Me. I gave them to you. What I am asking you is, do you want to be with Me more than having these? Would you give up your dreams, your promises, your destiny, to be with Me? Are they more important to you than being with Me?"
I fell on my face and wept. My heart was broken. I realized that even as Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac, his promise, God was asking me to put down my expectation of living my dream, my destiny, my hope and just come to be with Him.
God was showing me what was important to Him. He was showing me what His message is for His people today. In fact it has been His message since the beginning:
"How much do you want to --- be with Me?"
Lighthouse of Hope Ministries