Never Alone (a short story)

Fear gripped the twins like an invisible noose, ever tightening around their hearts. After 40 years of seeking everything they could imagine to get release from this deadening force, the emptiness they experienced was a hole deeper than either could describe. But they did feel it, a silent, weighty darkness that surrounded their life. When not silent, the darkness offered repeated, piercing accusations that came with a vengeance, digging deeper the hole they felt…

“You are not worth it!”

“Who are you to deserve that?”

“No one wants you!”

After each verbal blow, their heart reeled as another piece of hope would be stolen cutting deep wounds. Over time, their own thoughts had become increasingly lifeless and demeaning, darkened also by the incessant messages of religion and those who arrogantly stood on the side of religious rightness. Broken themselves, these “friends” within their own community constantly shared loveless commands of “Believe this more”, “Do that more” and “Perform more”. Believing they owned “THE” truth dominated the motivations behind their actions which in the end, stole again and again the twin’s hope to be held, cared for and loved, in the midst of their broken, empty and pained-filled lives. The constancy of these messages from so early an age had dramatically disfigured the very face of God in their eyes. Even when they chanced a gaze towards heaven, they would wince waiting for another beat down from Him too. Modeling by God’s so-called “people” had done its work – even God could not be trusted, especially when the twins needed Him most. The lie of mistrust had anchored solid.

Lisa and Tony were inseparable the moment they were born. As the first identical twins in their family, they were held early on with a kind of disconnected specialness. Their parents did as best they could, but time and family pressures eventually scarred their hearts with a growing sense that life would have to be lived on their own. Few identified with them, nor took the time to hear and understand. Growing up, Lisa and Tony did have their unique bond and filled their days with child-like joys. But, as the years passed, their time together became less and less, as they embraced their own journeys and dreams. It was a slow drift apart, but one that was deep and tangible. Before long, a nagging splinter made its way into that core place of their hearts where one’s value and worth is meant to grow and enlarge. Painfully and methodically, wounds formed that would only deepen and spread with each day, leaving each of them with a festering notion…

“You…are… alone”.

“Get over it – you’re just a woman”, became a common theme of the words that filled Lisa’s inner world. Written often and at times with great passion from those around her, Lisa’s heart cataloged the countless times she received “encouragements” of this kind. Whether at home, with friends and especially from many in her religious tradition, she was held in that place of “less than.” Each time it came, even without words, the message went deep. Still, her strong heart had felt early in her life a sense of wonder and beauty about her womanhood and of the deep value that came from simply being. While unsure of its source, this awareness was there, taking every step with her. But, like many other life stories around her, Lisa thought less and less of herself over time as disillusionment made its home within her. Relationship strains and breakups, broken attempts to reconnect, and the repeated description of her lessened value damaged her heart profoundly. Trust evaporated, and one bad decision led to another, and another. Soon the years had passed and the 40-year old staring back at her in the mirror this day was a roadmap of painful valleys with few joys along the way. Aloneness crowded her reflection with its own shadow of deep darkness.

Miles away, Tony experienced the same reflected image as he stared into his hotel mirror after another night of trying to desperately find something to fill his own growing heart void. Elevated by family and friends, Tony’s journey had been filled with favor and attention from others simply because he was a man. Never quite at ease with this treatment early on, especially when it affected his sister, he did his best to downplay the disparity. Joking and sarcasm became his practiced deflection.  The older he got, though, the less he could ignore it. Then, at some point, he came to embrace and expect the special treatment. When he didn’t get it, anger became his emotion of choice. The impact led to coldness and intentional separation from anyone who challenged him. Like a self-inflicted disease, he increasingly believed that he indeed deserved this favor. Selfishness marked his intents and soared directly into the lives of those around him, leaving most feeling used and broken. His guilt increased daily, but because he felt so broken himself, stopping seemed unattainable. Into this destructive pattern came scattered and irregular nights when Tony would dream in his troubled sleep. Each dream would be different, but most would have a recurring, unidentifiable figure, who would come to him with arms outstretched in invitation. In these dreams, a hope would spark in Tony’s heart with deep longing – could it be? Does someone want me for me? He would then wake, unfulfilled yet again.

A few days later, after celebrating their birthdays alone, Tony called his sister, something they had not done enough over the past few years. A meet up was planned for a few days later. Their embrace upon meeting this time felt long overdue, but more meaningful. Strapping on their backpacks, they had planned an afternoon of hiking in the beautiful mountains of the Wasatch Front, just east of the Salt Lake Valley. After some personal catch up for the first mile on the trail, they happened upon a small, but scenic mountain lake, tucked away from the valley below. Stopping and settling down on its soft and grassy bank, they took in the scene. Pine trees and coyote willows, along with scattered sagebrush surrounded the lake, while the red sumac contrasted the color of the yellowing quaking aspen, further up the mountain. For a few moments, they sat in silence, taking in the cool, but silent breeze and the quietness that unlocks reflection. Almost on que, they both began tearing up, as years of stored away pain and loss came to the surface. Slowly, but intently, they began to share their stories. As the bygone pictures were painted, each not only felt the release of being supported, but also the beginnings of their hearts intertwining again. Surprised, they discovered that while their roads had been different, their conclusions reflected back in the mirror only days before on their birthday, had been identical.

Taking some moments to consider each other’s exchange and simply embrace, both were taken by surprise when a lone white dove landed at their feet and made its way between them. Spreading its wings to touch both their legs, Tony and Lisa froze. Unable to move or speak, they thought, “What was happening?”.  In the stillness, they watched as the bird switched his gaze between them back and forth. Unexplained peace flooded around them, tangible and real. Ever so softly, they became aware of a voice making its way into their hearts. It was so clear they both looked around to see if someone had joined them. Later confirming the same message, they were arrested by what they heard…

“The scene you are sitting in has always been, even in your absence from it. This mountain, these trees, this lake, and yes, this precious dove are as real today as they were yesterday and before. The same is for your life and heart. You cannot gain, nor earn, what you already have. You were born into center of my surrounding Presence and Goodness that covers the world you walk in, but more importantly, envelopes you as my cherished beloved. You exist within me and there is no canyon to cross to get back to me. Our lives are intertwined from the moment you were conceived, even though you may not see it. You were born into my world more than you were born into yours. Let me show you — Can you look back and see us walking together?

My hands and feet carry the wrinkles and scars of your own journey – because I was there with you.

My heart carries the same pains and losses from your valleys – because I was there with you.

My eyes and ears have seen and heard the assaults from all who live in conditional love — because I was there with you.

I was there because I never leave. I carry what you carry because you are in Me.

As I experience you, I desire you to experience Me. Separation is not a truth of my existence – I have not been separated from anything. Your life exists in the center of my Presence. Only your blindness, created by lies, denies the connection we already have. But even your blindness is weak to my surrounding Presence.

I am Jesus – Immanuel – ALWAYS face to face with you. You are not alone.”

Astonished and overwhelmed, Tony and Lisa slowly look at each other with a foreign gaze of wonderous perplexity. No words are found as silent mystery marks the moment, each holding the echoing words deep in their hearts. Feeling a stir, their eyes again focus on the dove, who folds its wings, and lifts off in flight and out of sight. Lisa reaches for Tony’s hand, and they sit together as cleansing and renewing tears fall from their eyes, revealing the growing life from their returning sight of knowing Jesus sits with them, even here. Unsure, but captivated by what seems to be new insight, their surroundings take on new meaning as shafts of hope’s light interject courage where despair had taken root. Life can now become a daily awakening to what is – they are not alone, and never have been.

— Mark Francis

20 Years of Ministry

Twenty years ago this month, Heaven’s Dawn Ministries was born in our hearts. To honor our journey since this step, we wanted to express our gratefulness and share it with you.

The road since March 1999 has been filled with all manner of experiences. We have witnessed at times the intervention of God Himself, while during others, the infusion of humanity filled with God’s goodness and grace. Other times, we have endured great loss and pain, and our only encouragement was to hold on and persevere. The reality of God’s presence and love has sustained us, while at other times raised many questions over how to hold parts of our road. Through it all, we have tangibly felt His love and care, even in our questions, frustrations and pain. We know our journey is not unlike most others; however, it remains important to us to voice our deep gratefulness for the Lord’s faithfulness, care and love of us through it all.

From the beginning, our hearts were captivated for Utah, its people and its destiny. The past twenty years have provided many opportunities and avenues to share this destiny from God’s heart. During each step, our hope has remained the same – to see others connect to the one who made them and who treasures their life with abiding love and presence.

For those of you who have in some way joined our journey through prayer, participation, relationship and/or support, we are grateful for your sacrifice and gifts. As we have shared often, your involvement connects you to the efforts we believe God has put in our hearts, and He takes joy in your offering. We personally are touched by your giving and supportive heart. Please accept our heart-felt appreciation. You have demonstrated aspects of what it means to be part of the larger kingdom of God’s people.

Before we step into the next season of time with Heaven’s Dawn Ministries, we simply want to express our gratefulness and love to the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Their triune, eternal relationship continually arrests our hearts in their desire to share it with all of humanity. We are humbled to be called to this journey, and to share this relentless love with all we encounter. May we always experience the never-ending flood of heaven’s goodness as we become even more captivated by beauty, wonder and mystery.

Thank you for celebrating this 20-year journey with us!

Mark & Laura Francis
Heaven’s Dawn Ministries

Heber City Prayer Summit

Announcement

If you are in the area and available, I wanted to welcome your attendance at this event. I will be speaking during the 7 PM session on Thurs-Saturday evenings, and again at 11 am on Sunday morning. There are more sessions throughout the day, and I’ve provided a contact number where you can get additional details. Your prayer for me as I share would also be appreciated. I will be speaking on “Prophetic Prayer”.

Thanks for your consideration.

Heber City Prayer Summit
Sponsored by Light the Way Ministries (lightthewayministries.com)
January 11-14, 2018
Cost is free

Site: 1400 North U.S. 40, Heber City Utah
Additional Info: 801-427-9454

Summit Topic: All Kinds of Prayer

Thanks for your consideration.

Mark

The Call of the New Year

What is calling to you in this new year of 2018? A fresh start? Perseverance? Reconnection? Or maybe simply to keep taking steps. I find it fascinating how the switch to a new year, over the course of a 24 hour period, can be so impactful for many. The truth is, January 1 represents simply the next day after December 31. What has shifted that causes the impact we witness around us or even in our own heart? Does time or its shifting actually have tangible power?

While I don’t really have an answer, I do know that events associated with time certainly do. Take Jesus’ entrance. The Bible declares that “in the fullness of time”, Jesus came. In other words, there was an appointment where time had to pass including all the events associated with it before He came. I wonder how much that dynamic operates in the kingdom life we all are seeking to live? What things in our life will come to pass only after a “fullness of time”?

You are not alone in your wondering. This question is resonating in my own heart beyond anything I have experienced to date. Which leads me to stop and explore my present journey and God’s presence in it. What is He calling me to? What of my future has a voice above all voices that seeks to captivate my heart, originating from heaven’s King and Father of my life?

As you ask this same question, I bless you with open channels to God’s heart in order to apprehend what is for you in this hour. In your discovery, may fresh courage and boldness fill you, empowering your steps and giving your life sustaining vitality for your journey into 2018.

Needing a drink?

One of the greatest honors I have is to spend time to hear God’s heart for others. His desire to speak hope, courage and life-giving vision marks the core heart He possesses for each of us. And like a river, this encouragement that only He knows flows without interruption.

So I ask…do you need a drink of encouragement from this river today? If so, please reach out. I will share what I receive privately so that you can consider it with the Lord personally.  Hope to hear from you.

Mark

Presence

For me, the reality of “presence” is a very important one for my journey. Whether in my relationship with Jesus, or others with skin on, the impact that presence has on my own heart is profound. I find myself regularly considering truth through the lens of presence, especially as it relates to what the Trinity speaks to me, whether in the written Word or personally. What I have come to know, day in and day out, is that I long for presence beyond my present experience. Yes, Jesus, be Emmanuel (God with Us).

Like you, I do experience it at times and in ways that defy explanation. Then there are those times that I’m found pouring my heart out without words, needing Presence to capture my fallen gaze. But answers do not always come. Many times silence reigns, both from Heaven and earth. Into that place, my questions then come about my own capacity…am I dull? Distracted? Cold? Wounded? Bitter? and the list goes on. All good questions, but not meant to be a place one should stay too long. But, some days I do stay…and in that place of broken unknown-ness, I discover a deeper longing. It’s like looking at the past-present-future reality of eternity as compared to the fragile shortness and passing of my perceived weak life (aren’t we all wounded and broken?). Some days I long for this eternity…to be present with all the other eternal beings, secure and strengthened by power beyond my own life. And yet, on other days, it feels my time here is still filled with life that needs to be lived in presence this side of heaven. A tension for sure, and one that anchors itself deep within my heart.

As I move through these shifting perspectives, I land in a place of wanting more of how I give of myself to those around me. I want to be “Present” for them, whatever that looks like. And to be sure, it changes by person and circumstance. Can I be that adaptive and sensitive? I don’t know, but am giving it all that I can.

If this echoes your own heart…let’s remember each other and be Present with one another, even when words are absent. May our paths be marked with our footprints surrounding others as we move through this dusty experience, captured by the invitation of Him who commits to us every step of the way.

Beauty that Marks God’s Kingdom

When you think about God’s Kingdom, particularly what distinguishes it on earth, what would you say? Agape or choosing love? What about the fruits of the Spirit? I suspect for each of us, our answer may be similar, but with some uniqueness given our own personal interactions with Jesus. I love this as it paints a fuller picture of the God-realm and all that it means.

For me, beauty is one specific aspect I have been seeking after, particularly its role in framing God’s kingdom on the earth both in our relationship with Jesus and with each other. I recently spoke about this at our home church to stir our hearts in this direction. I invite you to hear my comments and welcome any you may have to pass along to me (see podcast location below). I am coming to see that beauty is one way God draws us after His heart, but possibly in ways that we may not have realized. Enjoy!!

To listen, go to  The Beauty Of God Message

July 2017 Blessing

To each of you reading this post, I release over your heart new access into the heavenly realm where you both see and understand a present revelation of God’s heart for your own and how it connects to your sphere of influence. I further proclaim that the next few weeks will bring opportunity for this revelation to be more fully realized as it impacts your life at every level. In the process, may your personal union with Jesus take on a fresh and joy-filled hope no matter the circumstances of your present journey. His presence is the abundance of life in the midst of seasons of loss, pain or discouragement. When we can’t hold on, His grip never relents, always pulling us close to gaze into His eyes of life-giving love.

2017 Blessing

May your eyes be sharpened to see beyond the now and into that realm where God knows all and reveals the future;

May your heart be refashioned to hold the reality of the present, but secure in the timelessness of Jesus’ redemptive sacrifice and resurrection that brings hope to any situation;

May your strength be increased for every step in the coming journey, whether through the dark valley or the highest mountain;

May your agape, your choosing love, deepen to levels that become dangerous to your past, and footing to your future;

May your hope find its rest not on what can be, but WHO can be;

And, may each day be filled with the new and restoring mercies of God that captivate your gaze and empower your journey.

Because of Jesus and His choices, He has made you fully worth it!

Equipping Class Available

The Heart and Act of Imparting Blessings
Mark Francis, Instructor
Heaven’s Dawn Ministries

DETAILS

Description As God’s sons and daughters, we have been offered by the Father the power to bless as a birthright in Jesus. A blessing is more than kind or hopeful words; rather, they are intentional, tangible influences of life that result from specific, targeted, and crafted proclamations (oral or written), releasing Godly impact upon both the present physical world and one’s spiritual being. A primary purpose for giving and being a blessing is to establish a future legacy of overflowing life, clear destiny, and supernatural abundance for the world around us. This equipping class represents over 12 years of personal experience and practice, and explores the Biblical basis for this birthright, the role we each have for its release upon the earth, and opportunity to practice and strength our ability to offer blessing in all circumstances.

Start Date
Every Thursday evening from 7:00 – 8:30 PM
Starts September 8 2016, runs 4 weeks and ends on September 29 2016

Location
The Fellowship church, 615 Sego Lily Drive, Sandy UT

Cost $40.00 / Person (due at first class)

What you receive:

  • Over 12 years of research, experience and practice from instructor
  • Copy of Details Notes, some of which will not be covered in class
  • Sample Written Blessings directed towards different audiences and serving different purposes
  • Opportunity to practice creating and recording directed blessings

Sign up Instructions/Deadline:
The deadline to sign up is Wednesday, September 7th by 8 PM.
To sign up, Send message through our CONTACT page providing your name, email and phone, and how many will be attending.

Other available Equipping Classes
To explore other equipping classes that can be brought to you, visit my website at www.heavensdawn.net .

Feel free to forward to others who may be interested.

Thanks for your consideration and I’m looking forward to spending this time with you exploring how we can become greater influencers of life in our world.