with Arianna Walker
Sunday 6 August
Arianna Walker is the CEO of Mercy UK, a Christian mental health charity, specialising in helping Christians from all walks of life to live free and stay free. Find out more about Mercy UK HERE. She is an international speaker, author and leader with 25 years’ experience in developing people, leading teams and coaching individuals – especially in the area of mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.. Here the NH Media team brings you a summary of what Arianna had to say on Sunday evening at New Horizon 2023.
Last night we kicked off the theme Joy from Ashes and I spent a little bit of time helping us come to terms with the fact that we have ashes. Tonight I want to speak about the breakthrough moment. Breakthrough is almost always not the end. It might be something we look forward to and are praying for but breakthrough but it is in fact the beginning. Every breakthrough needs walkthrough. We can put so much emphasis on breakthrough that we dismiss the power of the walkthrough.
The breakthrough is the wow – it is what we want. Walkthrough is the “ow” – it is the process. The trouble is we want the “now” – the instant fixes. But God likes process. He modelled it for us.
God in all His infinite power could have put everything in place. He could have created the universe in a breakthrough moment, with just a breath. I believe it is absolutely possible for Him to do that. But instead He chose to submit Himself to process – day by day and step by step. And not only that but He celebrated in perfection and completion. At the end of each season of time, He said, “It is good.” (It is not finished yet but it is good.)
Process is powerful. I want to take us to a story in 2 Kings when we see a really good example of someone who wanted an instant encounter, healing and transformation. Instead we see a different story unfold.
Reading from 2 Kings 5: 1- 19
Naaman was a powerful and successful General “but he had leprosy.” The Bible is full of people who have “buts” – who have problems and issues and yet God used them … we have Thomas who was a doubter and Rahab who was a prostitute and we even had an example of God using a donkey. It makes me feel better – if God can use a donkey, I’ll be okay.
There comes a time when God gives us an opportunity to deal with our “buts”. Naaman had come to a point where he realised that he needed to get help. He is a perfect example of someone who wants a quick fix, an instant miracle, a breakthrough. We can get frustrated sometimes when, like Naaman, the miracle we wanted in an instant, is actually a process. Naaman want to be passive. The fact is that we have a much larger part to play in our breakthroughs than we want to admit.
I can understand Naaman’s reservations especially with regard to the river. I have seen the River Jordan with my own eyes. The process he was invited to go on doesn’t make sense. How can a dirty river make me clean?
For us it might be forgiveness. How can all this hurt and pain be healed by forgiveness? How can releasing them, release me?
How can giving be a key to overflow? How can surrender, that feels like weakness be a source of strength? How can worship, when we least feel like it be the very thing that changes our feelings? It makes no sense.
I can understand Naaman’s response. I can see myself in his response. But we see in v14 that he chooses to accept the process.
There is always purpose in God’s process. God doesn’t want us to jump through hoops for the sake of it. Naaman wanted to be healed on the outside but God had a bigger plan.
I want to share with you three “ps” in this story.
Pride was put Aside
Naaman was a General. Everyone knew who he was. He had chariots and servants. He had reputation, strength and victory. The last thing he wanted to do was to show weakness and vulnerability. Some of us go around life like that. We don’t want to show weakness, need or failure. That is pride. Pride is self-reliance, self-importance.
Instead Naaman had to take off his armour and dip down in front of everybody and show that he had a need for healing. If he got in that river wearing his armour… he would sink. In order to enter into God’s process, we have to have the courage to take off the things that we hide behind, the things that we use to protect ourselves.
We have to say, “I need help. I care enough about the purposes of God in my life to say, ‘I’m not okay.’”
I don’t like to fall when I’m skiing and I never do. But on a with my family skiing trip, I felt something pop in my knee. I fell and all of my family gathered round offering to help and showing concern. But I refused help. I got back on my skis and the next turn I did was so painful that I sat down and had to ask for help after all. I had the awful embarrassment of being taken off the mountain on a stretcher. People were looking at me with pity. As I went down the mountain, I felt God saying to me, “Isn’t it interesting that rescue didn’t come until you said you were not okay.” We want God to quietly sort it out but we don’t want to ask for help. Naaman understood that.
Seven is the number of perfection. The man of God was telling Naaman that he needed to get into that river and keep going until the job was finished, until the healing was complete. We need to keep on forgiving. We need to keep on reading our Bibles. We need to keep on praying. It will not be done until we come before the throne of grace. We have to commit to being persistently obedient to Him.
Don’t stop dipping until it’s done.
When I had my accident I busted part of my knee and I had to go on a rehabilitation because I had committed to climb Machu Pichu later that year to raise money for Mercy. I went to a physiotherapist. He gave me a bunch of exercises. I kept being persistently obedient. I strengthened my muscles so that I was able to do the challenge.
But a few weeks later my knee started to trouble me again. So I went back to the physiotherapist. He asked, “Are you still doing your exercises?” I told him, “No because the challenge is over.” He replied, “The exercises I told you to do were not just for the challenge, they were so you can live your life.”
The disciplines of our Christian life are not just so that we can get through bad stuff but there are things we need to do persistently in order to live our life for Christ.
Personal Relationship was Started
Naaman went to the man of God and almost went away in a huff. Naaman had heard about God but at that point it was someone else’s God. “I thought he would call on the name of his God.” But after he puts his pride aside and after he has been persistently obedient, he says, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world besides the God of Israel… I will never worship any other God but the Lord.”
Would he have had that revelation with a quick wave of the hand? Because of the process, he submitted to, because he had the courage to put his pride aside having the humility to bow his knee, he received more than healing on the outside. His heart changed. He recognised that God was also His God. It is a beautiful picture of God’s heart for His people. Yes there will be miracles. Yes there will be breakthrough but it is in the walkthrough that we gain a deep intimacy with God.
I don’t know when it happened for Naaman but I do know that it lasted. God has no interest in abandoning us. He does not lay out obstacles and step back to watch us struggle. He walks with us. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, why? Because you are with me. Whatever we are walking through, whatever process we are finding ourselves in right now, we serve a God who walks with us.
Tomorrow night I’m going to spend more time exploring what that means. But for the rest of this time, let us pray and give time for God to speak directly to us. So often we can quickly move from listening to someone speak to corporate worship, but it is important to create a moment to connect with God Himself.
Some of you are feeling like you are walking through that valley of the shadow of death. The trouble is you have sat down because you are tired and sad because the breakthrough you’ve been waiting for has not come. You don’t have the energy or the motivation to keep going.
In Psalm 23 it says He makes us lie down in green pastures and by still waters – that is where we stop and receive from Him so we have the ability to keep walking through the valley.
Lord for every person who feels overwhelmed with what they are facing, I pray for your grace. Lift them Lord. Put them on their feet. Strengthen them from the inside out. Amen