When we arrived in Penrith, New South Wales (NSW) (Outer Sydney Metropolitan area) nearly five years ago none of us knew what to expect. We had left everything behind, most of what we had was thrown out, given away and or in storage. What was in storage would stay there for another five months after moving. We drove the two day trip from Adelaide to Penrith with the basic essentials crammed in our car. Many were saying that we were going on an adventure. I lacked the excitement, perhaps a sign of my lack of adventure or maybe more of a response to the scope of what God was asking. I felt overwhelmed and numb.
We knew God was asking us to move before the opportunity to move to Sydney arose. The only problem was, Sydney was a very big place and we didn’t know where. My first preference was where my mother grew up, Wollongong, NSW. However, God had other plans. We prayed repeatedly for God to show us where to move to. Over and over again I saw a picture of two rivers and heard the words, “Where two rivers come together as one”. We searched the map for two rivers forming into one river. I was looking for two rivers coming from adjacent angles merging into one river. However, no matter how much we looked we could not find it. With the moving date looming we became very frustrated. One night I lay in my bed and asked God again. As he had done so many times before he showed me the same picture and spoke the same words. He was immovable and I got cranky. In my frustration I pulled out my phone and declared, “God there are no places where two rivers come together as one!” To prove my point I typed into my internet search engine the exact wording God had told me. There on my screen appeared the word Penrith. I was looking for the wrong thing. What I needed to look for was one river that had been named two names. The first explorers had mistakenly thought they had found two different rivers, eventually they discovered that in fact it was one, albeit a very long one. At the location where the Grose River flows down the mountain into the Nepean river, the river changes it’s name from the Nepean to the Hawkesbury River. Now with this new information, I asked my husband, “Where’s Penrith?” Upon looking it up and seeing it’s location we knew that that was where we were to move.
We knew nothing about Penrith nor did we know anyone who lived there. Many of my relations who lived in NSW questioned why I would want to move to Penrith? They gave many reasons as to why the location wasn’t ideal. However, in faith and obedience we set our minds and wills on doing what God had asked.
When we arrived in Penrith we were accommodated in a one bedroom hotel room. We lived there for 4 weeks. The kids were immediately put into a school and my husband started his new job. It was a tremendously stressful time and if I am honest we didn’t handle it well. It rained almost continually for 3 weeks. Something that us Adelaidians had never seen in the heat of summer. Now years later I take comfort in the summer rain, especially after this season of drought, but at the time that rain just seemed to match our mood. Not having a home to live in, the children struggling in their new school, no friends to talk to and not knowing anything about this very busy city was hard. God, however, didn’t let us down and we eventually found a home, some friends and a new school for our children.
Once settled into our home we asked God why he had brought us to Penrith. My husband and I received prophetic pictures that became future references for me to hold on to. We also had two scriptures given to us. One was from Joshua 1: 3 “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you…” (ESV) and the other was Is 54. A passage about the barren one singing and needing to enlarge their tent in preparation for the many children. I thought at the time that this was in reference to the season before our move. A season that I deemed barren, however, I had no idea how barren our season was about to become. The Penrith region was a place that was settled by the first fleet settlers. In my research of Penrith I became fascinated by these pioneers; their struggles, the good and bad that they did. Their season of struggle paved way for this big nation that I now live in, Australia, to become what it has. Little did I know that in a few years time the word that I would hear spoken over me by so many would be, “I was a Pioneer. I had endured a painful season. I was brave, faithful, a woman of great faith, a mighty warrior princess and he was very proud of me”. Many of those words were from people who didn’t even know me.
As a prophetic intercessor, one of the things that God specifically told me to do was where-ever I went I was to speak or pray His word ‘into being’ (or existence). We struggled to settle into Penrith; finding friends and a church community wasn’t easy. This resulted in us going to many different places. I would hear God speak and respond to His heart. Sometimes His words were easy, other times they just didn’t make sense and people around me became puzzled as to why I was doing what I was doing. Why I would say no to doing a ministry or choose to go to a church. Conflict arose as I didn’t follow the religious rules required in churches. In some churches people didn’t speak to me on the account of past mental illness and my ability to hear God like I did. I had people openly reject me. I even experienced abuse whispered in my ear. It was very isolating and confusing. Praise be to God though, he didn’t abandon me. In the midst of my struggle he remained and provided some amazing people and places as refuge.
At the time, this struggle and not settling didn’t make sense. Why would God bring us to Penrith and have us endure such great barrenness? This was until a little over three years into living in Penrith God reminded me of Joshua 1:3 and Isaiah 54. In my struggle, I didn’t see the placing of the sole’s of our feet throughout Penrith and the greater area. I didn’t see the God seeds I had planted in response to God’s leading. God had purpose in this time of unrest and rejection, in fact He was using it to plant seeds in the desert. This revelation of the seeds in the desert came when, in the midst of despair of our barrenness, we as a family sat around the dinner table and had communion together. I encouraged everyone to pray and seek to hear God. When we finished my daughter said she saw a piece of land and it was a desert. There was one root left in the desert. Then she saw this person come along who had faith and they stood on this desert land and planted seeds. Then this river came and all of sudden there were lots of plants. She shared in her innocence, but without knowing it she shared something really rich and deep. This was not the first time I had seen seeds being planted on hard, dry ground. This planting was followed by rain, which formed a huge river and caused the seeds to burst forth with new life. It was one of the pictures I had seen when I first came to Penrith. A few months before my daughters picture I had been given the scripture Is 43:18-21. This confirmed that her picture was from God. It was at this point I realised that God had already told us his plan when we arrived, we just didn’t realise what it was going to look like.
At the same time of my daughters picture, I saw a picture of myself standing with my feet on the edge of a big body of water. The water started to sparkle gold and I could hear happy laughter. This golden swirl came down from heaven and swirled around me. Then God spoke in the wind and said, “I will restore.” This was God’s answer to our barrenness and struggle. He was sending rain to the desert (barrenness) and forming a river that would restore new life.
I look back now at the journey we have taken. Like the Pioneers there were some good things that we did and some not very good. However, also like the pioneers I know that there was purpose in everything that God asked us to do. While it made no sense at the time, now I see it and joy comes in my heart at being able to partner with God in his plan to restore.
Finally in closing, “I hear the rain!”. The river is filling and new life has started or is about to spring forth from the seeds. Behold God is doing a new thing:
“Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.” (Is 54:18-19)
It is time for the barren to start singing and enlarge those tents!