When I was a very young girl, I encountered the presence of God for the first time.
I didn’t realize it at the time … but this experience was my first taste of God’s goodness for me … little Christine Cruickshank, of 65 Lincoln Road, Masterton, and I have never forgotten it.
It was a rainy Friday night and Mum often let my older sister Helen and I go into town. It was just a short walk into Queen Street, where we would get hot fish and chips in the newspaper and walk on home. What a treat this was for us kids!
This particular night the Salvation Army Band were standing on the corner of Queen Street and Lincoln Road, playing songs with their tambourines and button accordions.The Ladies in their bonnets and badges and the men in their uniforms, all smiling and singing, really got my attention. I stopped to listen with my reluctant sister by my side. I don’t know why, but I was strangely moved by the music, and to my surprise I began to cry and found myself on my knees on the footpath. Momentarily, I was transported to a warm, safe place, where I had no fear or self-consciousness.
My emotions tumbled to the surface.
I remember my sister pulling at me and begging me to get up ( she was definitely embarrassed!). There with little stone marks on my knees, was where this little girl encountered The Presence of God for the first time.
To this day, I still love the Salvation Army (and the strains of the button accordion!).
That little girl is now a grown woman of 64 and sometimes when she feels anxious or fearful … she reaches inside, to find that little girl and pulls her up!
She reminds me that God is there.
That He is kind and good.
That He is not embarrassed when I cry in His presence.
She reminds me that there are a million other men and women, boys and girls, who have never felt such love and acceptance.
She reminds me to be that person who cares and sees others.
She reminds me that I have a call to carry His presence and not ever forget that day.
She reminds me that this world is hungry and thirsty for the living water only Jesus can offer.
She reminds me why I do what I do … and for Whom I do it for.
She reminds me to fill the pots with water so The Master can work the miraculous in lives beyond anything we can imagine.
She reminds me who I am.
I am to carry His presence wherever I go, and not be focused on ‘me’.
Ps Phil often says… “walk slowly through the crowd.”
I love this.
I get this.
When we are not in such a hurry to do what we want to do … and we ask The Holy Spirit to guide us each day, we are more acutely able to sense the unction of The Holy Spirit. We become ‘spirit aware’. When we are not so concerned with what others may think of us, we see others as He sees them. I just might repeat that!
“We see others as He sees them”
Sometimes in prayer, or even in my daily life… I will get the image of someone in my mind.
With it will come a purpose.
It may be to call them. It may be to pray for them. It may be to write an encouraging letter to them . It may be to send an unexpected gift.
The Holy Spirit often moves through acts of kindness. A simple obedience to reach out and love someone can be the very catalyst they need to affirm God’s love and care.
Let’s be ‘awake’ to these moments.
Several years ago, as I was preparing to travel to Uganda for the first time, in a time of prayer and journaling I asked the Lord, “Please show me my purpose!”. Almost immediately I heard the inner voice of the Lord reply, “When you go, you will meet a young woman – when you meet her you will know MY purpose!”
Well, I wrote that down, word for word in my journal.
I was asking for MY purpose … but the Lord was telling me HIS purpose.
He was going to fulfill HIS divine plan, not only including me…but someone else I was yet to meet.
On the very last evening of our Inaugural C3 Conference in Kampala … we were taking photographs together … and packing away the room. I loved all our leaders and pastors. I loved the colours and dancing and was sure that somewhere I must have African blood in my veins!
As everyone began to leave, our Kitgum pastor David came towards me …pushing gently a very tall, very shy woman in my direction. She was wrapped in colourful garments and she seemed somewhat reluctant to meet me.
Her name was Alice. An elegant Acholi woman.
David prompted her, “Tell Pastor Chris what you are doing in Pader”.
As she quietly told her story of rescuing the children and child mothers who had been abductees of the notorious Joseph Kony LRA rebel soldiers, I heard the Lord say…
“She’s the one”.
“How far is Pader from Kitgum?” I asked David.
His face lit up… “Not far… I will take you” he replied.
On arriving some days later into the township of Pader, I entered the gates where Alice’s work had begun.
She greeted me with a huge hug and joy! “Pastor Chris… quickly come into this hut, a baby has just been born”. I entered the dark hut where a young woman lay with a newborn baby wrapped in a colourful blanket. The mother’s eyes were downward… she would not look at me. I felt her shame and her inner pain. As I held this little baby girl Alice told me it was the custom that I would name her. As I suggested a name Alice told me that she must be named after me.
So there in that little dark hut… I named her Christine Peace.
I was to learn her sweet Mother (Joyce) had been abducted at a young age and was an LRA commander’s ‘wife’. She had endured terrible abuse and had now given birth to her second child. She had escaped and found Alice’s compound where she knew she could be safe.
My heart was connected in the strangest way. With that sacred moment I knew I had walked into HIS purpose.
This began a deep friendship with Alice, her work and now fulfilled partnership over many with our Everywoman Conference in Sydney. Together , we have witnessed this extraordinary work flourish and grow into a successful school, tertiary scholarships, a hotel with a fabulous café and so much more. I have seen the girls grow up, be healed, forgive their perpetrators and become joyous, fruitful mothers and wom
Joyce has married and with her husband, are active members of the local church and little Christine Peace is now at school!
When we obey the voice of The Holy Spirit, as Dr Seuss wrote so famously …
“Oh the Places We Will Go!”
When we ask The Holy Spirit ‘show me YOUR purpose?’, He will direct our footsteps.
His anointing is on us to work THROUGH us!
That IRRESISTIBLE , tangible, presence of God.
So, can I encourage you to pursue His Presence over your lives. To seek The Lord and re-engage with Him afresh.
I am hungry for His presence.
I know as we prepare a place to gather at Presence Conference in a few weeks… new anointings will be received. Lives will be forever changed. New wine of The Holy Spirit will spill over you.
Oh let’s come thirsty for His breath over our lives.
Let’s rise up together and prophesy to the dry bones “LIVE”.
I love you and cannot wait to see you again.
Biggest love and hugs,
In pursuit of Jesus,