Editor's Note: This is a two-part article. Watch for part 2, coming soon on charismamag.com.
In the early part of 2020, I had a vision of a refreshing rain covering the earth. I saw greenery sprout to life as this divine shower nourished the ground. Knowing the trouble our world had been facing, I felt an overwhelming sense of excitement. I was sitting at my piano, so I began singing, "Let it rain, let it rain, open the windows of heaven."
To my surprise, the Lord stopped me. He continued with another vision. A three-tiered fountain made of pearl with gold trim was before me. I sensed this fountain was for royalty. Its waters were bursting through the atmosphere beyond my view. After a moment, the water returned to the earth as a gentle rain. Zooming out, I saw there were millions of fountains causing the worldwide rain I had seen in the first vision. Each fountain was inside a believer, and the living waters within them were quenching the dry earth.
God corrected me. I didn't need to ask for the windows of heaven to open because He had a better plan. He said, "Rain from heaven was My visitation, but this rain is My habitation." I trust the Father wants to bless our land, but He prefers to work through His children. In the past there were rainy seasons of His glory, which we've considered powerful moves of God. But this new move He is bringing will be different from the rest. It will be a habitation as His people stay hooked up to His deep reserves. We won't need the windows of heaven to open, because the kingdom of heaven will rule and reign through us.
"He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38, KJV).
Know How to Flow
If God's plan is to heal the world through the fountain within us, it's important we know how to flow. An occasional squirt won't cut it. To do this, we need to learn how to tap into the river of God and activate it in our own lives. That's easier said than done. I don't expect a vague statement like, "Just let the river of God flow," will help equip many believers. Instead, let's examine what the Word says about how to flow and break it down into practical applications.
In the book of John, we learn the river flows from our bellies. Other translations use the word "heart" in place of "belly," because that's where John believed the heart was. In the New Testament, the Greek word for heart is kardia. It refers figuratively to the heart, pointing to our inner self, will, and/or center. When the Bible says the Holy Spirit is in our hearts, it doesn't mean our blood-pumping organ, but rather our center.
The other word used in the New Testament for heart is splagchnon, which means the inward parts (heart, liver, lungs, bowels, spleen, colon and so on) and the gut-level emotions. It was common knowledge among the ancients that our seat of emotions is in our gut. When they talked about the spiritual heart of a person, they concluded it was within the center part of the human body.
It's easy to see why they thought this. What happens to us physically when we experience any intense emotions? As we cry wholeheartedly, our stomachs shake. The same takes place with uncontrollable belly laughter. But joy and sorrow aren't the only emotions which seem to affect our stomachs. At some point, we've all had nerves cause our tummies to do somersaults before public speaking or felt butterflies in our gut when we fall in love. It's clear why the people during Jesus' time believed our hearts were in our midsection.
The Heart Is Best
Why would God choose our hearts over our minds as the place to release His river? The heart is so emotional and unsteady that I wouldn't have selected it for the river of life. The refreshing rain which God wants to use to bring life to the world seems pretty important. He must have a good reason to hinge the great harvest upon the hearts of imperfect believers.
"My beloved reached into me to unlock my heart. The core of my very being trembled at his touch. How my soul melted when he spoke to me!" (Song of Songs 5:4, TPT).
Our hearts are the doorway to our souls. When Jesus knocked on our heart's door (Rev 3:20), it was by believing with our hearts (Rom. 10:9) we let Him into our hearts (Eph 3:17). That's why God warns us to guard our hearts (Prov. 4:23). We can become defiled with the things we let in our hearts. When we love someone, we will sometimes say we've let them into our heart. The opposite is true with unforgiveness, as we build walls to barricade our hearts against the offender. The problem is when we have hardened hearts, because we are neither letting anything in or out. And God's river can only flow through a soft, open heart.
"And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us!" (Rom. 5:5).
After we ask for the Holy Spirit, He comes and dwells in our hearts. From there He will fill us with the fruits of the Spirit and direct us. The Holy Spirit will write the Word upon our hearts and train us to go with His flow despite any fluctuating emotions. When a negative emotion leads us astray, the Holy Spirit is there to realign it with God's love.
I'll never forget the night God taught me how to tap into His river. I was at a Christian concert, worshipping with all my strength. I often worshipped with everything I had (similar to a CrossFit competitor). With eyes closed and arms stretched, I nearly shouted the songs of praise as I determined to hold nothing back.
That's when God told me to calm down. I was trying too hard. He urged me to be still, and as I did, something amazing happened. Instantly, the Lord poured the warmth of His love into my core. He overwhelmed me with how much He loved me. Who knew? Then He told me, "My love is My presence." That's when I understood God is love, and by focusing on that love, I will enter His presence.
God is love, according to 1 John 4:8. Love is an emotion. And where do we hold our emotions? That's right, our hearts. If we want to tap into the river of God, we must allow His love to flow into the doors of our hearts. We can't receive the river of God by thinking or striving; it must be felt. With our hearts, we believe and receive this holy flow.
Shanna Barberio is a worship leader at Cornerstone Church in Amite, Louisiana. For 25 years she has served in worship as a vocalist and pianist. She carries a passion for the presence of God and loves to incorporate intercession and spiritual warfare in her worship. Shanna is also a recording artist, and has written numerous worship songs inspired by the Holy Spirit. Check out her new book, Heaven's Frequency: Tuning in to the Heartbeat of God at this link.
Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
Great Resources to help you excel in 2019! #1 John Eckhardt's "Prayers That..." 6-Book Bundle. Prayer helps you overcome anything life throws at you. Get a FREE Bonus with this bundle. #2 Learn to walk in the fullness of your purpose and destiny by living each day with Holy Spirit. Buy a set of Life in the Spirit, get a second set FREE.