The Fathers Blessing: Catch the Fire
God had lead me to a well, a well of refreshing (Digging the Wells of Revival, p21) and I was here to drink deeply. I was amazed to find that it was a spiritual well centred on the Father Heart of God! How incredible is that! And if any heart needed a revival, it was mine!
I knew that God wanted me to connect with CTF, but I didn't quite know what that meant. After having a chat with a few people, I came to understand that "worshipping at the well" on my journey "home", equated to doing the summer Leadership School of Ministry. I knew I needed spiritual support on this journey to meet my dad, and God provided this through my "global family" who had come from all over the world to do this three week school. From the moment I joined the line for registration, the tears began to flow... and continued on and off through the whole school. During the first week, I got my love tank filled on the Father's love as we delved into teaching on the Father Heart of God. Although known through worldwide media as the Toronto Blessing, the founders of CTF, John and Carol Arnott, would have preferred to call the revival that started in 1994, the Father's Blessing. With everything that happened during the revival, they believe that the main outcome was that "sons and daughters" received a revelation of how much they were loved by the Heavenly Father.
I was in the right place. So many years of wrestling for the blessing, like Jacob with the angel; of wrestling for my identity and what it meant and means to be a child of God. So many tears, so much pain, a broken heart and...
How could I trust my dad? Thankfully, I didn't need to. God was asking me to trust Him in this. He was my Father, and He had my back. Having grown up going to boarding school, I just knew I couldn't stay in the ministry dorm rooms during this time. Emotionally, I needed a home.
I was so thankful for the generosity of a Dutch missionary to Canada, who opened up her little basement apartment for me. We had met in the prayer room and God had told her to offer her place during my school. It was a safe retreat, welcoming and full of art! She was also doing the ministry school and was completely open to me coming and going as I needed.
Just before I arrived in Toronto, I had wished my dad Happy Fathers day for the first time in my life. I had never ever done this before. I had felt he didn't deserve it, and... maybe he didn't? But this year, 2018, was a year of new beginnings and God had done so much in my heart, that for the first time in my life I emailed him, on this special day. The Lord had been teaching me how to honor my mother and father, that it might go well for me in the land (Exodus 20:12). It was hard, and I was hurting, but I was learning to honour his position in my life, and not his performance.
"As I think so I am". It was so important to spend time asking God what He thought! What He thought about me, what He thought about my dad, what He thought about this whole process... that I am loved, that I belong, and that I am His child with whom He is well pleased. God never makes mistakes, and He is so big and good, that He can bring beauty out of ashes.
"Steady Heart that keeps on going Steady love that keeps on holding, lead me on Steady grace that keeps forgiving Steady faith that keeps believing, lead me on."
During the Ministry School, the Father continued to pour out His affirmation and love on my trembling heart. I was in good hands -
Although I had heard some of The Father Heart of God teaching before, through YWAM and diverse Christian books I had read, there was so much new revelation and timely application to my present context. If there was ever a time that I needed my head to connect with my heart, it was now! I was thirsty for God's love, and was drinking deeply from a truly Canadian well. I was still learning to guard my heart, the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23), but this was a safe place.
The four core principles of the ministry are:
Hearing the Voice of God
The Father Heart of God
We looked at the different fathers that we may have had. The performance father, the passive father, the abusive father, the authoritarian father and in my case, and so many of my generation - the absent father. How do you process the pain of abandonment? The rejection, whether intentional or not?
Only, in the perfect love of a perfect Father. On a journey from "orphan to daughter", His promise over me was so loud and clear, "I will not leave you as orphans." The times of worship, and resting in His love and presence, were instrumental in my homecoming. His word was my weapon. I could cling to His promises over my life and in this season. He is the only one who is a perfect Father, able to give perfect love.
But why was my dad hiding? He hadn't replied to any of my emails since April? Was he afraid? Was he ashamed? We all have self protection mechanisms, and I was learning to live in my identity as a daughter of a perfect Father and He was teaching me how to love. I never thought I'd be able to pursue my dad, but as I chose to forgive, accept and love him verbally and "from the heart", it was preparing me for what lay ahead. I was going to have to let the walls down and allow myself to be vulnerable...
It had taken every ounce of courage my heart had, to get on a plane and fly to a new country, where I knew so few people. Matthew teaches that true Christianity goes the extra mile. I had come over 8000 miles! If that wasn't going the distance, I don't know what is?
Here I was in Toronto, my dad's territory...
Thankfully, the city is so big that it is very easy to never rub shoulders with your neighbour. I had time, and I had space, which I needed until I was ready. But... are we ever really ready?
"Turning the heart" meant more than just meeting up, it meant an emotional turning, an openness of heart. How did I live with an open heart, when I was so afraid of being hurt?
Processing my anger and emotions in a letter that I would never send really helped me. I had come so far! I was almost at the top of the mountain! It was significant that we should meet in a high place, and when he responded to my email and texts, we decided to meet at one of his favourite places in Toronto, High Park. I needed a neutral, public space for our first meet up and this beautiful park was ideal.
God was teaching me how to love for "Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up." 1 Cor 13:4-7, The Passion Translation
I was learning to live with an unoffended heart. I was learning to not give up on my dad.
If courage is "doing it afraid", I was truly afraid.
But I had come so far! Perfect love was casting out my fear and every step I took, took me closer to the Father. I had been running this race for a long time, but I was almost at the finish line! I was running for the beautiful prize of love. (1 Corinthians 13:13).
The Father was speaking, "It's time. Time for the "ring and the robe." If my dad was like the prodigal, I had the choice to be the "older brother".
Only mercy could triumph over judgment!
The day came to meet my dad. John Arnott shared on the persecuted church and our call in Luke 4! We ended the session declaring, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free!" I ran up to him after his session and asked him to pray for me as I met my dad that very afternoon! I was going in the Father's blessing, with the blessing of one of Canada's spiritual fathers! We received our graduation certificates and immediately, I was commissioned to meet my dad!" This was my moment of Jubilee!
The moment of God's great acceptance!
One of my greatest fears was having to do this alone. But in the hour of my greatest need, He provided the wonderful support of a "global family" to celebrate one of the most culminating days in my entire life. With new friends from Norway, Brazil, the US, China and Kenya, the timing was impeccable, because the following day was our final day of school and almost everyone left the country. My Father had this...what a ride!
After a lot of raw emotion and nervous energy, and spending time with the Father listening to my Perfect Love playlist, I drove up to High Park. I had decided to start this new beginning, by calling my dad "dad" for the first time in years. I had only called him by his first name in all our recent email correspondence, because calling him dad had hurt too much. But God was teaching me to honour, and this was the beginning of a new chapter, come what may...
I had no idea how I would respond to him emotionally. It had been such a roller coaster already. Would I burst into tears? Would I want to punch him in the face? Would I run?
From an atmosphere of worship, I got out the car and walked up to meet him.
It was miraculous! I called him dad and was even able to give him a hug, without reservation. There was such a peace that came over me; that peace that surpasses understanding. I was healed! I was free!
I asked the waitress to take a picture of us. A firsthand witness to a father-daughter reunion, her eyes filled with tears. I had asked him that for our first meeting we would keep it light and focus on reconnection. We chatted for an hour and he commended me for my courage. I told him about the symbolism of this new year in Hebrew and showed him my favourite quote from a mutually favourite classic, The Little Prince. He said that I radiated light. I knew "Whose" light that was. In the flesh, this would never have been possible, but in the Spirit, I was empowered to do what had seemed so impossible for me to do for so many years - love my dad.
It was a bright beginning amidst all the unknown. I was so dazed, after all that had happened, that I ran a red light! Thankfully, I was following a friend, and we all ended the night
on Queen St., eating poutine in celebration!
What a milestone, what a feat.
The perfect love of my Heavenly Father, had cast out all my fear!
My heart was completely free!
The Lord had restored (my exiled heart), and I was like one who dreamed.
My mouth was filled with laughter and my tongue with shouts of joy!