The boardwalk area of Cherie Down Park in Cape Canaveral, Florida, provides shade and cover from the rain. The park has been a favorite for Cru staff member Lisa Brockman and her family during the last 25 years.

Experiencing God’s Extravagant Love

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Sitting in the day-lit front room of her house, Lisa Brockman reads aloud from Matthew 11:28-30 in The Message: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Lisa invites me to listen for details. “Pay attention to if a word or a phrase shimmers. Is there something that catches your eye?”

“To ‘live freely and lightly’ sounds really good, but also ‘are you tired of religion?’” I say as I ponder the Scripture.

“This time as I read it,” she says, “see if there’s an invitation that Jesus is extending to you here.”

“It seems like all invitation,” I reply when she finishes her second reading of the passage.  “‘Come to me’ and ‘learn the unforced rhythms of grace’ sound really refreshing.” I exhale a relaxed breath.

Lisa then directs, “This time, just pay attention to any little bits of illumination that come to mind.”

The question hangs there. Waiting and simmering in God’s truth takes time, but Lisa, a Cru® staff member for 31 years, patiently waits to see what God reveals. Her training in spiritual direction has helped her learn to pause for how the Spirit of God will shape this moment for the one being spiritually directed. Curiosity also helps.

Lisa Brockman (right) talking with artists Lisa (right) talks with artists taking part in Orlando Presbyterian Church’s arts fellowship. She leads the art fellows through spiritual formation exercises to guide them into deeper connections with God and each other.

Trappist monk, theologian, writer and poet Thomas Merton wrote, “A spiritual director is one who helps another to recognize and follow the inspirations of grace in his life, in order to arrive at the end to which God is leading him.”

Armed with a blend of compassionate curiosity and Holy Spirit guidance, Lisa directs people to discover a deeper understanding of God’s extravagant love for them.

Lisa has learned curiosity, a skill that’s helped her mature in this role. The skill has also led her into a deeper life of love with her Creator. She grew up in a religious tradition that frowned upon questioning. It was only when a college boyfriend challenged her belief system that Lisa began to evaluate her values. “I was held in bondage because of a lack of curiosity in my growing up years,” she says. “So, curiosity is what led me to life.”

Lisa grew up believing that God accepted her based on her personal worthiness, as measured by faithfulness to the laws of her religion. Now she sees how performance-based acceptance is the result of an inaccurate view of God. She says seeing God instead as a Lover who is faithfully committed to her good is essential. He created each person so he could love them and they could experience his love.

The Trinity, a community of love between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, lives at the center of creation.  When God invites a person into relationship, he invites those he’s created into the extravagant shared love of the Trinity. He made people to be loved and to love in response. “Because of our fallen state,” Lisa says, “we don't believe we are who God says we are. And we don't believe God is who he says he is. So our journey in spiritual formation and transformation is to begin to see God more clearly.”

Lisa never intended to become a spiritual director, but every year, for years, she’d ask the Lord, “What do you want me to learn this year?” In 2005, a close friend passed along information about a school led by Larry Crabb, a Christ-follower, psychologist and spiritual formation specialist.

Lisa immediately signed up. “My life was turned inside out and upside down,” she says. “I came away with an enchanting vision of who we were designed to be, as his image bearers, that changed me forever.”

Lisa and Dennis, her husband, walk around the neighborhood Several evenings a week, Lisa and Dennis, her husband of 30 years, walk around the neighborhood. They talk about their highlights and lowlights of the past couple of days.

John Eldredge writes in his book “Resilient”: “The life of God is described in Scripture as a river—a powerful, gorgeous, unceasing, ever-renewing, ever-flowing river. . . .  The River of Life, God himself, is available in ways we have not yet tapped into.” 

Lisa, who trained as a spiritual river guide, helps travelers learn to navigate their untapped, uncharted life with God.

In our session, Lisa had said to me with a wide smile on her face, “I give you the opportunity to explore deeper waters in your soul. To somehow stir your appetite for greater growth toward God. I help you identify God’s voice, his presence and activity in your life.”


“Journeying with people in spiritual direction is the highlight of my life. There is nothing that brings me more joy than to be invited into somebody’s story.”

Lisa Brockman

The sunny, bright room in Lisa’s home that serves as office and conversation space is warm and inviting. Books that have shaped her journey as a guide fill shelves, and photos of family adventures fill frames. 

Lisa’s client Anna Bret Mitchell opens up because of questions from the compassionate guide. “Sometimes when I come here for spiritual direction,” Anna Bret said, “I’m a little bit scared because I don’t know what might surface. That fear starts to dissolve when I realize spiritual direction helps me understand I am God’s beloved.”

Lisa Brockman meeting with Anna Bret Mitchell Lisa and Anna Bret Mitchell have been meeting for more than a year and a half, usually monthly, to help Anna Bret internalize God’s love in a deeper way.

It took a long time for Lisa to embrace God’s extravagant love for herself. Understanding the deep love between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit has helped: The Triune love reflects the extravagant love God has for his children.

Another client, Elaine Greenwood, took part in group sessions with Lisa as well as one-to-one conversations. “Lisa modeled true ministry to me by dignifying my humanity,” she says, “by listening to my messy stories, and by pouring out God’s abundant, ever-flowing love.” 

As she experienced invitation and grace from Lisa, Elaine also began fathoming the depth of love from a mysterious and beautiful God.

In order to guide someone down this river of experiencing God through spiritual direction, Lisa first locates where they are in their relationship with God. The questions she asks drip with compassion because she genuinely loves hearing people’s stories.

Lisa Brockman talks to a book club An Orlando area book group invited Lisa to tell more stories from her book, “Out of Zion,” which describes her process of exiting Mormonism and embracing Jesus.

With me, Lisa listens, praying and inviting the Holy Spirit’s presence, and asking the Spirit to illuminate my journey. She refines the questions as she listens: “Tell me more about that fear.” “What do you love about feeling stirred?” “Why does that feel disruptive?” Sometimes she gives perspective, but mostly she listens and validates what I am experiencing.

Stirring the hunger for God’s extravagant love is exactly what Lisa hopes happens when she guides each person. “There’s a reason I want people to be so assured of their ‘belovedness’ in Christ,” she says, “and it’s so they can be formed into the likeness of Christ.”

Each person may not know how to find that sweet spot in the current, so Lisa adeptly probes and shares aspects of her story as well.


In his book “Stages of Faith,” James W. Fowler describes seven developmental stages of spiritual progression. Mostly following a natural, age-based growth, anyone can ascend to the higher stages by considering where they have come from. Reflection takes place when people ask questions to determine what they think, feel and believe.

There is power in asking questions of yourself and what you believe. In her memoir, Lisa states, “He’s the God who thrusts people into the mystery of His love where there is room to create, to breathe easy, to test the waters, to question, to challenge, to doubt, to shake a fist, and to weep.” 

A spiritual director can guide people by asking questions that invite them to reflect, but they don’t need a spiritual director to start the process. Anyone with an open heart and a willingness to ask curious questions can begin the journey. “Curiosity and being a seeker go hand in hand,” Lisa says. “God has made me a seeker,  and I think every Christian has the capacity to be a seeker.”

Seeking to understand God’s heart is a powerful part of growing deeper with God. The opening Scripture and questions Lisa asked in this article are an example of Lectio Divina. Reflection, seeking and experiencing God’s Word in a deeper way are all things anyone can do on their own to enhance their journey down the river of life with God.

“We are wired to grow, and all growth stretches us beyond our comfort level. Comfort is the absence of tension; growth requires a swim in murky, dangerous waters.”

Dan Allender, “To Be Told”

Lisa has seen how resistance can short-circuit the process. A person may have to fight to surrender to the current of the river. “Do whatever it takes to find your way there,” she says. “Becoming like Jesus will be what you want to do because you’re doing it with God. If your vision of God is not one that compels you to want to be with him, wrestle and do whatever it takes, until you find a compelling vision of God.”

Lisa Brockman for Cru Storylines articledaughter Madison and son-in-law Blake joke around while Lisa prepares the rolls Lisa loves to cook one of her specialties, orange rolls, that she only bakes on holidays. On Easter, daughter Madison and son-in-law Blake joke around while Lisa prepares the rolls.

The purpose of spiritual direction, according to Lisa, “is to become the lovers God created us to be, to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and to love others as ourselves.” 

Spiritual direction isn’t about a place of arrival but about wholeheartedly experiencing the presence of God. Lisa realizes the Holy Spirit is the real guide. She hopes the questions she asks and insight she offers will lead a person to discover God’s extravagant love for them. When they do, everything in their spiritual life changes.

Back in Lisa’s front room, she instructs me as she reads the passage again, after instructing me: “This time, just pay attention to any little bits of illumination that come to mind.”

Ninety seconds later, after waiting for the Holy Spirit to illuminate God’s Word, I say, “‘Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.’ That would be nice. It feels like it means letting go of some things … maybe my ways of trying to find life. Instead, maybe he is just inviting me to be with him.”

The always inviting nature of God is wooing me closer, and I can’t help but want more when I’ve tasted the “belovedness” he is offering.

Lisa at the beach in a chair under an umbrella The beach is Lisa’s happy place, where she goes often to ponder, relax, read and pray. She might read Scripture, read or listen to an audio book, or walk in the shallow waves.

Next Steps

To learn more about Lisa’s process of finding Christ, read this article.

Lisa talks a lot about understanding the community of the Trinity. To learn more, read Experiencing the Trinity by Darrell Johnson.


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