Mature Christians would agree that the further they remove themselves from the trappings of this world, the closer they are drawn to the Lord. There is a direct correlation between the willingness we have to die to self which includes losing all that we believe gives us life here on this Earth and the ability we have to fully live for Jesus Christ. Everything in your life must be evaluated based on its relevance to your relationship with God. In doing so, you will find that it all either draws you closer to the Lord, or it pulls you away from the Lord.
If you have a desire to go deeper in your relationship with God, you must be willing to reach beyond the basic Christian requirement of reconciliation with the Father. You must be willing to allow God to completely have His way with you. This process, as uncomfortable as it may be, will serve to purge you in ways that will reveal a closer, more intimate relationship with the Lord.
The flesh needs purging to cleanse you from carnality which gives you a distaste for sin. The soul needs purging to cleanse you of pride and a stubborn nature which points to unrighteous thoughts and emotions. The spirit needs purging to cleanse you of self-righteousness and self-sufficiency which helps you recognize that you are weak in yourself and strong in the Lord. This is necessary for spiritual maturity and advancement within the spiritual things of God.
The Lord was in the process of purging me of a stronghold that was hindering my spiritual growth as well as my ministry at the time that I received the following vision. I would not have believed this about myself if the Lord had not allowed me to have this experience.
Several years ago, I lay in bed late one night wide awake and restless. The room was dark and quiet and my husband lay next to me sound asleep. Suddenly, I heard the sound of a whirlwind blowing in the distance. I could feel nothing but the wind seemed to move closer to me for the sound grew louder with intensity. As I looked around me to see what was happening, I saw a small, bright light appear in the distance. It gradually increased until it consumed my entire bedroom. I was physically incapable of seeing nothing other than a blinding white light and hearing nothing other than the almost deafening sound of a strong wind whirling all around me.
I was not frightened for somehow I knew it was the Lord. I had experienced His presence before, so I lifted my head up off my pillow and struggled to hear His voice again but I heard nothing this time but the sound of the whirlwind.
For a moment, I thought I was blinded by the brilliant white light, then out of the corner of my eye, I saw a figure standing beside my bed on the right side of where I lay. Its shape had a bodily form but there were no recognizable features. It consisted of nothing but light which was even brighter than the light that consumed my room. As I tried to focus my eyes on the form, I saw It move. It leaned over me and placed Its arms under my body and I could feel my legs and waist begin to lift up off the bed.
Within a split second, many thoughts began to flood my mind. I was reminded of a prophecy that had been spoken over me years before telling me that I would walk on Holy Ground. I wondered if this was the day the Lord would take me to Heaven. “Would I return?” I wondered.
I then began to have thoughts of my young grandson growing up without me. I remembered my son, whom I have not seen in years, and the hope I held onto that told me I would see him again. I remembered my two daughters, my sisters and my husband and the plans we had made together. "I am not ready to go," I thought. I could see nothing in the room around me but I could feel everything, so I reached out my left hand to touch my husband who was lying next to me. I could feel his pajamas so I grabbed a hold of the elastic at the top of his pants hoping my husband's body would keep my body from continuing to lift off the bed. Within an instant, the loud sound of the whirlwind stopped, the brilliant light that had consumed my bedroom disappeared and the brilliant white bodily form was gone. I lay there for a second or two stunned by what had just happened then I woke my husband and told him everything.
I prayed to God about my experience and asked Him to explain what had happened to me. The Lord answered. Although I have heard the audible voice of God speak to me in the past, this time He chose to speak silently to my spirit. He told me that the experience I had was given to reveal a stronghold that was hindering my walk and preventing me from fulfilling the call God has on my life...
Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it - lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:26-33
When we read and understand this scripture in its full context, we know that Jesus is explaining to us that we must be mindful of the cost of our discipleship and how important it is to pay. To truly follow Christ, we must be willing to follow Him - at all cost. We must be willing to trust Him fully with our life even if it means giving up EVERYTHING. We must be able to recognize all that draws us closer to the Lord and all that pulls us from Him. Jesus sacrificed everything for us. Just how much are we willing to sacrifice for Him? It is important for us to know and agree to the cost it will take to follow Jesus. And we must acknowledge this going in because the enemy will take full advantage of any fickleness or double-mindedness to get you to compromise your walk with the Lord.
A stronghold is a faulty mindset that hinders your growth in Christ, and it can be rooted in anything or anyone. The stronghold that the Lord wanted to make me aware of happened to be rooted in my family. Due to possible conflict or separation, I had stopped speaking to my family about God. I had also stopped delivering messages that the Lord had given me for them. It became apparent to me after the vision that my plans concerning my family had become more important to me than God’s plans concerning my family. The relationships I had with the people I loved had become more important to me than God's Will for my life. Was I willing to lose those whom I loved the most in this world in the process of being obedient to God? It was a hard question to ask and an even harder question to answer. The Lord had to show me this in a very dramatic way for I would not have believed it otherwise.
Any stronghold that we have in our lives will eventually become a spiritual weakness. It makes you weak and vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy. If they are not dealt with, they will open a door to the enemy and allow him access to your life and to the lives of your family. This walk is not for those who are holding onto the things, and the people, of this world for dear life.
Take the time to thoroughly examine your own life to see if you have areas that have become strongholds. If so, they are hindering your walk with the Lord. Make sure your thoughts concerning anything and anyone line up with what Jesus has to say about it. If you find that there are discrepancies, you must correct them as soon as possible. If you don’t address them, you can be absolutely sure that the enemy will.