The Other Friend

This month’s blog is written by Cassi Frank, who lives in Northern Kentucky and is part of the Accessible Prophecy US team.

As an adult, when was the last time you made a new friend?

I grew up in a big denominational church where the message was about God being great, Jesus being the best example for how to live and the Holy Spirit being an afterthought.  If He was mentioned at all, He was reduced to being your conscience. In middle school, numerous people with a local ministry to students shared that there was more to faith than just believing.  They talked about having a relationship with God, which was a powerful new way to think about faith and I gave my life to Him.  In high school, my youth minister was one of the first adults who spoke about their faith like it was still real, not just something you outgrow at graduation. In college, I learned the necessity of taking risks to increase faith. I wanted more and I wanted to know Him more.

Somewhere in the pursuit of trying to get to know God better and faster, my spirituality turned into an intellectual discipline.  It became just another item on my daily to-do list. A transfer to a different college helped me to turn my faith outward towards the world, but it also grew a belief that we didn’t need the supernatural anymore.  If I spent enough time reading scripture and saying prayers each day, I could figure out the right path, right decision, right spouse, right job, or right place to live on my own.

While I worked hard and desperately wanted to experience God more deeply, I failed to do so. This disappointment along with a bit of bad theology, had me believing that God didn’t speak, heal, or communicate directly with people – at least not anymore. The supernatural may have had it’s time, but not in an “intellectual,” “mature” society. I became convinced that God worked in much more subtle ways, by showing up in a person’s devotion to their faith, by serving others, or by loving those hard to love.  But not by someone having a word of encouragement or knowledge about another they just met.  Not by healing.  Not by tongues. Not by anything else miraculous or supernatural.

My faith was real, but it was … exhausting. It took a lot of work and discipline to read and pray each day without hearing anything back.  It took a lot of stubbornness to insist that following God was the best choice I had ever made when there wasn’t much going on between me and God other than a vague sense of peace I felt most of the time.  On the outside, I had all the “good Christian answers” about politics, how to spend my money, how much to drink or not drink.  But inside, when I was truly honest, I was deeply disappointed.  There had to be something more, because what I had then wasn’t worth sharing.

Six years ago that all started to change. My husband attended a 3DM workshop at a friend’s suggestion.  The relationships and conversations that came from it dramatically changed our faith, our life and our family. They talked about God like a friend they heard from each morning.  They talked about ways God had shown up and done miraculous things in their midst on multiple occasions. They talked about recognising where God was leading and what He was saying confidently.  It was just a normal part of their lives.

I had never wanted something so badly.

I couldn’t read enough, couldn’t attend enough workshops, couldn’t listen to enough of the messages and the teachings.  I found myself asking deep questions.  Questions I had forgotten were even there.  Questions about the possibility of experiencing God on a deeper level.   With these questions in the front of my mind often, I sought out help from others to answer them and engage with God in a new way. As I did, I began to learn the value of the word relationship in many many new ways. In fact, the most influential person in this journey, Cath Livesey with Accessible Prophecy, first said to me, “It’s about learning how to become friends with the Holy Spirit.”

Relationships were what helped shift my spiritual journey from one of striving and discipline to one of friendship.  Being vulnerable in relationships with others who were also seeking to hear and learn what God’s voice sounds like allowed me to be vulnerable with letting God peel away the layers of fear and disappointment that had built up over the years.  Relationships got me into a huddle with Accessible Prophecy where those relationships helped me identify the fear and disappointment I had been blind to for so long.  The people who joined me on this journey didn’t have it all figured out and didn’t claim to be “good Christians.”  They just wanted to know and love this person, our Good Father, better.

The process hasn’t been quick or easy.  The first time we practiced in huddle asking the Holy Spirit what He had to say to us at that moment, I was afraid and a bit panicked. I wanted to believe He would speak, but what if He didn’t?  It was a bit awkward and confusing at first, but the friendships in that huddle encouraged me to continue to practice. I kept trying to ask and listen to what the Father had to say.  I still remember one of the first times I received a picture during a listening exercises.  The Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and I were all sitting on a bench looking out over a still, smooth lake as the sun set behind the trees.  I still remember the peace and comfort I felt there.  Because He is a Good Father, He knew my fear of disappointment and let us all sit on that bench shoulder to shoulder comfortably getting used to this new experience without any more expectation of talking, or of emotional exchanges. He let me sit where I was comfortable and let me know that He was there and wanted to be there.

The Holy Spirit has been gentle with me in removing those layers of disappointment and fear.  It’s taken several years, but I can confidently say I know what his voice sounds like.  I don’t always hear it and I don’t always listen, but I know He speaks.  I know He wants me to hear him.  I know He’s a person and that I can’t just get to know a person by reading about Him.  You get to know a person in part just by sitting in silence with them.  You get to know a person in part by walking around the neighbourhood talking and noticing what’s around you or what they notice.  You get to know a person in part by hearing what they have to say to others. I couldn’t have gotten here on my own.  I’m incredibly grateful for the people along the way who have shared their journey with me and for how the Father uses our own relationships to teach us about our relationship with him.  It’s been through huddle that those relationships have turned into friendships. Those friendships modelled safety where I could step out, try something new and not worry about failure.  Those friendships modelled humility as they held out to me words they heard from the Father, offered them as a gift for me and allowed me to go to Him to hear more about what He had to say.  Those friendships have walked with me as I have learned to be friends with the Holy Spirit a little more each day.

It certainly seems like it gets harder to make friends as an adult. I don’t remember it taking so much work as a kid. Maybe that’s a small part of what Jesus meant when He talked about ‘faith like a child’ (Matthew 18:3). Regardless, I’m glad I’ve put in the work to grow my friendship with the Holy Spirit. It’s been worth every minute.

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