Wednesday, July 11th: I arrived in London Tuesday on the red-eye. Though exhausted, I felt God’s pull for me to attend Pastorate that night. (Pastorate is HTBs church community group I’ve been attending.) I wasn’t sure what He might have for me, but as the homesickness was already setting in (ahead of schedule!), I figured it was a good idea to go.
After much more social interaction than in the past (so often I’d gone and met no one), which was good in and of itself, we worshipped, and then Dave spoke. Last time Dave spoke he freaked me out a bit. Many in the group, including the leadership, are much more charismatic than I’m used to. I’m often skeptical, given what MBC believes doctrinally about many spiritual gifts, but I also really feel HTB is solid too, so I’m trying to open my mind. Maybe MBC might in fact be too closed to all the Holy Spirit may choose to do in me, in you. I’m just not sure.
Dave began to remind us how badly God wants to talk to us… that if we are only willing, if we only ask him, he will eagerly talk to us and share all sorts of things. To some it may be words. To others, images. God has his own way of speaking to each of us. He may give us a word for ourselves. He may give us a word for another. Dave told us that we’d pray and then enter into an activity, where we would be silent and ask the Holy Spirit to come in. This of course concerned me, still not sure about Dave and his beliefs. I began to pray, “Lord, let nothing occur here tonight that is not of you. Purify our hearts. If you want to reveal yourself to us, great. But give me confidence that it’s all of you. Let no egos or other powers or anything but your pure and holy Spirit enter in.” We broke into small groups. Dave asked us to be still and simply right down anything God would speak to us so we might share it (if we felt so inclined). Before he even concluded praying, God was already talking to me and quickly!! Write! Write! Write!
Let me take a step back, to share with any of you unawares, what’s been going through my head and heart lately with regard to London. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I know I’m supposed to be here right now. That is not even a question. But what often stumps me is trying to figure out why I’m here. What am I supposed to be doing? Learning? I’m also continually frustrated by my own emotions. In spite of knowing I’m exactly where the Lord has called me right now, I’m wound up most of the time. I don’t always want to be here, and even knowing I’m supposed to, doesn’t seem to elevate what I feel at times. Some times I’m depressed and lonely. Other times anxious and have difficulty making decisions. No, I don’t think this is clinical and I don’t need meds, ha, ha (considered that – and no). This is different, as if it’s my own mind and heart at war with God’s will and the enemy is having a blast trying to confuse me. I’m uncomfortable and I don’t like it, so I’m constantly trying to fight it and control EVERYTHING. I also don’t understand why I can’t seem to connect with more believers here despite my efforts. My homesickness is never about missing VA. I love VA, but I really love London too. My angst is in missing all of you, my family, the encouragement, the iron sharpening iron. Yes, like family, sometimes being in the Frontline bubble brings its own stress and angst. But there is none the less something special about being with God’s people. I felt that more than ever this last trip home and that was why it was harder than ever to come back. If only I could have all of you here with me! And yet, I have felt, that me being in London, and not making new friends, is because God wants me away from it all, just for him, him and me only, in this time, in this place. He wants my eyes on him, not my social life.
Anyway… so with all I’ve written so far tearing through my head… God speaks…
“Trust this group. Their leadership is ordained by me. Their hearts are chasing after me and they don’t want anything not of me any more than you do. Relax and take it in.
Rest in me while in London. This is a safe place because I am at your side. I’m never apart from you. This is our time. Don’t feel alone. I am with you. I’ve set this time apart for us, for rest, for perspective, to strengthen you. You’ll be so strong when you return and I’ll be able to use you more than ever before. But you have to let go. You have to stop trying to control things and let me be God. I long to refresh you, fill you up, but I can’t if you’re all wound up. Trust me. I know you don’t want to be wound up, but you have to take every thought captive, put your emotions at my feet. Fix on me and don’t let go. I want to begin to do something different in you, unique, creative. Are you willing?”
I stopped him: “I’m scared, Lord!”
“Don’t be scared. I’m with you. You are NEVER alone. Never. Rest my child. Right now just rest. I am preparing you. Have no worries, no doubts.”
Wow, I was overwhelmed by how clear God was and speaking right to exactly what was on my mind. I knew it was of him. I certainly did not have this clarity. And he spoke nothing that isn’t well grounded in scripture. (These are some measures to apply to discern if it’s really God speaking.)
As I thought this he continued: “I’ll talk to you all the time; you just need be still.”
Hmmm… Seemed everyone I’ve talked to in the last week is getting the same message, “Be still!” And most certainly, as you know through some of my other writings, God’s been trying to get me to sit still for months. I may write about it well, but applying it is a far other challenge. Ok.
Each person in my group shared what God had shared with them. God spoke to some. To others he gave images. They were happy in how God was so clear with me, just as I needed to hear him.
We returned to another time of prayer. This time, we were asked to request from God a word for someone else in the group. Hmmm…. God and I chat a lot. And I can usually discern pretty well when God is giving me a word for myself. But can I really just request a word for someone else, just like that, and expect God to comply? I started to think of this spiritual gift called “prophesy”. To be honest, I don’t really know all that much about it.
Now… let me preface here, that I’m going to share what I am LEARNING and trying to get my head around. I am not going to go into a detailed lesson on prophesy b/c I am NOT qualified. I have a lot to learn and there are lots of areas of debate. There are misunderstandings and misuse of words. I’ll try to be as clear as I can what I’m learning and what I understand to be true… but it is far from complete or sure.
From what I understand, there are two uses of “prophesy” in scripture. In the Old Testament, it appears we’re normally speaking to the foretelling of the prophets. Basically, men God had entrusted to tell others about him, what he was going to do, and why. Some of their foretelling was in the short term (something was going to happen immediately or very soon). Other foretelling was more future. For example, they spoke quite often of the coming of Christ. With the existence of the scriptures, I believe this type of foretelling, in our current age, is rare or non-existent. BUT in the New Testament, Paul speaks that we should crave this gift. It appears to refer to receiving a word from God on a matter or about a person. Its use is to edify the church. It’s given in plain language (not tongues) so that it’s understandable. It is not so much foretelling, but a word of encouragement or instruction. If this description, of this latter type of prophesy, is accurate (verses confusion in semantics of language), then I believe this still exists today. I believe this was the type of “word” Dave was encouraging us to seek. He was asking us to go to God and ask for a word of encouragement or instruction to edify someone in our group.
Anyway… so it still seemed a little odd b/c I just wasn’t sure if God operates on demand like. I don’t know if I believe the Spirit can work through everyone in that manner or if some just receive it as a gift. I feel like from time to time, maybe I’ve gotten a word about a friend or family member. But who knows. Bottomline… I wasn’t sure… so I didn’t want to force it. I didn’t want to push my head so far and inadvertently make something up.
To pass the time, I began to flip through scripture to read on prophesy. I set out after 1Cor 12. I began to read…
1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
3For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
Ok. First off. Notice anything odd about this passage? Yeah. This isn’t 1Cor 12. This is actually Romans 12. But I wouldn’t notice this until later. Is was actually kinda cool. I think God wanted me to read this INSTEAD of 1Cor 12, whereby in the entire act again speaking to me!
So this is what I got out of this passage:
• Continually be opening and transforming your mind. Be discerning. This is exactly what I had felt God had already said to me. Keep an open mind, but be discerning. It was nice to get this scriptural confirmation.
• In having an open mind, don’t think of yourself too highly. To have an open mind, you must be humble; you can’t think you already know it all. Ok. I can do that.
• We are one body with many parts. We don’t all have to prophesy. I don’t have to prophesy. I just need to know my gifts and use them. I do. Cool.
• And I need to appreciate other’s gifts. If there are others in this group that do have the gift of prophesy. Though I should be discerning, I should be not judging and appreciate their gift. I should embrace them using it to edify the church.
Its about then I realized I’d read the wrong passage, but was so thankful for what God had shown me through this passage. I went to the “wrong” place b ased on what I thought I needed to read. But God’s spirit corrected me.
Well… I never got a word about anyone in our group. A few did get a word for me and that was neat. One said she saw me as if on a boat… slowly allowing the wind to catch me but then becoming prepared to take off (she doesn’t know I’m an avid sailor). Another gave me encouragement about my being in Europe and God using me. She gave me some scripture that backed up and encouraged the message I thought I’d received from God (though I don’t recollect it now and my notes are missing. And then finally, I got a Psalm from someone. It’s so perfect (esp v. 5 and 6) that I’ll close with it in a minute. They asked me if I’d gotten a word for anyone. I shared with them what I just shared with you. They said that sure sounds like a word, alright and they thanked me for reminding them and reiterating that we do all this in God, by God, to edify his people, period. It’s not us. We have no power. It’s God, if and how he chooses to use us… and we should be thrilled at however that is. Its all his Spirit.
1 Keep me safe, O God,
for in you I take refuge.
2 I said to the LORD, "You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing."
3 As for the saints who are in the land,
they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight. [b]
4 The sorrows of those will increase
who run after other gods.
I will not pour out their libations of blood
or take up their names on my lips.
5 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
8 I have set the LORD always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
11 You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Father God, I pray for each person reading this. I pray that they are able to hear your calling, your gentle yet powerful voice. I pray that they are able to see where you are assigning them and that they embrace it. Assure them that you draw their boundaries in pleasant places and that their inheritance, as your children, is sure wherever they go, whatever they do. I DO praise you Lord for your counsel. I thank you for how you speak to me, to all of us, when we call on your name. Help us to be still more, so that we can hear your voice. You long to talk to us. My heart is indeed glad and my whole body rejoices when I know you are near. Don’t hide from me. God, I pray for quiet this week… for me… for others… that they will call on you and hear you, in the way you know they can best… words, pictures, something else. I pray you aware us to all our gifts and that we use them in accordance with your will to glorify you and edify the church, whatever they are. May we have an open mind and be eager to learn new things about you. Holy Spirit, come. Be in our hearts, in our minds, in our lives. Help us put aside this world and live through you. AMEN!