This week I’ve had the amazing opportunity to spend some time in paradise on earth – otherwise known as Kanaan, the land of promise. I’m not speaking of Israel, I’m talking about Kanaan in Germany – the headquarters of the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary. Kanaan is a Christian interdenominational place of worship with a garden that is designed after biblical places in Israel: Mount Tabor, the Sea of Galilee, Bethlehem, the Jordan River, Jacob’s well, and the garden of Jesus’ suffering.
Whenever I feel burdened by the world, or I need to hear God’s voice more clearly, I find some way to retreat to a natural setting. I had no idea what I was getting myself into in traveling to Kanaan in Germany; in fact, this is my first time in Germany altogether! But I cannot tell you that any experience has been so necessary or so worth it. The joy of the sisters is infectious. The peace is palpable. The love of God is everywhere. It’s only day two of four and already my soul is feeling refreshed, restored, and fulfilled.
The most beautiful part of this experience has been to completely surrender myself to quiet time with Jesus – to let Him comfort and embrace me, reassure and love me. A lot has been revealed to me on how I relate to God, some of which I will share with you here.
At Kanaan there is a big fountain with seven taps around the bottom basin. Each tap is connected to a name for God that is written on the rim: Comfort, Love, Mercy, Goodness, Patience, Grace, and Faithfulness. It is called the Fountain of the Father’s Goodness and people are encouraged to drink from whatever tap they are in need of. I drank abundantly from each of them.
This fountain has become my favourite place to sit at Kanaan – you might think it would be in the Garden of Jesus’ suffering by the cross or the resurrection, but there is a reason why this fountain is so special to me. The Father’s Goodness is the key to our faith. If I doubt the Father’s love or goodness towards me, I will not be able to have the fullness of communion with Him. I will not trust Him. I will not surrender myself to His will. I will not accept my suffering or my cross. Why would I suffer for someone whose intentions are unclear at best, malicious at worst? Many times when we have been forsaken by loved ones, we project our rejection and hurt towards God. We lose the ability, or do not develop it – if such a trauma occurred when we were children, to accept and believe in the Father’s goodness and good intentions for our lives.
Faith, in essence, is being rooted and grounded in this belief of the Father’s love and goodness. David says, “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever” (Psalm 138:7-8). David’s confidence comes from his full assurance that God is working all things together in his life for good (Romans 8:28). It comes from a real intimacy with God, knowing Him in all of His different forms.
I will admit that this is an area in which I have particular difficulty – I would not claim faith as one of my gifts. To sit in front of this continuously bubbling fountain, visualizing God’s everlasting love and goodness towards me, was an incredible experience to say the least. To drink from it? Even better.
As I sat before the fountain for hours, it occurred to me that I’ve often held a very restricted and limited view of God. Only this year, as I have begun to know Him more intimately and personally, has it also expanded. You see, I have always known God as ‘God’ – however confusing that may sound. Now, I know Him as Jesus my Lord. I have known Jesus best as my Saviour, but now I am beginning to meet with Him as my Father. In the past couple of years, I have known Jesus as a Friend, but now I am coming to see Him as my Lover. I have tasted plenty of His mercy and patience, but now I also feel His comfort. I witness His faithfulness each day He does not give up on me. It is as though the sun is beginning to peak through dark clouds to light and warm up my whole heart – this is how I can best describe what it is to come to believe in the Father’s everlasting goodness.
He is all things to all men. Each of us, like puzzles, may be missing different pieces – some more than others – but God is one size fits all. Whatever it is that you need, it is contained in His love and goodness. Believing and abiding in His love are the only ways to contentment. The founder of Kanaan, Mother Basilea Schlink, wrote in Those Who Love Him: “Jesus’ love stands alone. No other can love as He loves. In no human love will you find the intense glow and power that you find in Jesus’ love. In no human love will you discover the depth and tenderness of our Lord Jesus. The most tender love of a bridegroom, the deepest love of a mother, is but a pale shadow of His love, for indeed such love finds its source in His love. No father, no mother, no bridegroom is so inventive and alert in love, bestowing blessing and good upon the beloved, as is Jesus.”
That is His desire – to bestow blessing and good upon us, His beloved. What is our desire? What is your desire? I pray for our only wish and longing to be to dwell continously in His infinite love. May comfort, mercy, goodness, patience, grace, faithfulness, and love be poured into your heart daily by the Holy Spirit and renewed each morning. May you come to know God in each of His forms of goodness personally in your life. May He be your all in all.