Monday, January 12, 2009

New Beginnings

Many things have changed - even in the short span of time seperating my life in Colorado and my life here in Kona. God has been at work in me in a strong way - and I don't think my life will ever be the same again.

In the course of eleven days here in Kona, I have wept tears of joy, as well as tears of bitter hopelessness. I have been confronted by God in ways that I couldn't possibly imagine, and to be perfectly honest, my first few days here were the most painful in recent memory.

Upon arriving, I was fully confronted with Christians who had true knowledge of Jesus - not book knowledge, not information - but a true intimacy that is intoxicating. I looked then at my knowledge of God, and everything fell apart.

I hit a wall - emotionally and spiritually. After the worship service, I walked to the back of the UofN campus, found a dark area behind a boulder, and wept before God. I cried "Why? Why does it hurt so much to worship You? Why?" On and on I wept, my sorrow driving my emotions to the breaking point. I felt entirely empty inside - as if I could offer God nothing. In essence, I felt as if I was nothing.

It is in our darkest hour that God reaches out to us - I had suffered through the night, but at last - I saw the sunrise.

The sermon the following day was given my Darlene Cunningham, wife of Loren Cunningham, and co-founder of Youth With A Mission. The topic? "What's in your hands?"

She spoke of how God desires us to use what we have in our hands for His purposes, and if we are being drawn backwards, to give any misgivings and fears up to Him. Nothing that we had could prevent Him from loving us.

As I looked down at my hands, I realized that my brokenness, my shame, the lies I believed about God for many years - all of these were lies. Lies used by the enemy to distort and warp our views of God. Where once the enemy had succeeded, Jesus entered in.

For many years before this DTS, I have always had a caustic relationship with worship (especially corporate worship) and reading The Bible - yet I could never find a logical explanation as to why. Being an English Literature Major, wouldn't you assume that I would read the one book that is the foundation of my faith? Of the thousands of books that I have read, why was The Bible the one book that I shied away from?

After discussing these circumstances amongst my friends and leaders, The Lord showed me the truth: the enemy doesn't want me to read The bible or worship. Suddenly the explanation sounded to clear - why was worship physically painful? Why did the thought of reading The Bible always instill fear in me?

Because they are holy practices and the enemy withers before such magnificence.

I decided then and there that whatever the enemy didn't want me to do, I would try with all of my heart to accomplish. Spiritually, if it scared me, I would do it. Regardless of circumstance or upbringing.

Reading The Bible is no longer a fearful exercise for me - I want to read it. I want to learn about He that loved so that we may love others.

But there was definitely more to come.

-----Brief Intermission-----

(And/or snack break for those who don't like reading volumes and volumes of text)

In another amazing example of God working in mysterious (and miraculous) ways, a few days after I arrived to the campus I asked a staff person if there was anyone here who spoke prophetically. He told me that there was, and I thought to myself 'I would like to have that done.'

Two days later, the entire school met for corporate worship, but there was something stalling the music. A woman came up to the front and told the crowd that she was given a prophesy over several people in the school. She named a few names, and upon standing, several people were told prophecies that she believed were from God.

She then said, "Is there a Dan or Daniel in the crowd?"

I stood, and she told me that God had spoken to her.

He had said that I would be visited in my dreams with visions, ideas, inventions, and thoughts from Heaven. She said that Heaven's gates would be opened to me in my dreams.

I sat back down when she had finished speaking, and thought to myself 'I can't wait to go to sleep!'

...but that is the least of what has happened as of late. This very morning, I was shaken to my core.

Donna Jordan, one of the elders of YWAM spoke about hearing the voice of God, and it was a moving sermon regarding God's immense love for us, as well as how sacrifice is needed.

In many ways, the sermon challenged me radically. Donna spoke that 'In order to follow God, you need to lay your life down for Him. You need to give up everything.'

She said 'Are you willing to be single your whole life?'

'Are you willing to sell your house and your car?'

'Are you willing to move away from your friends and family?'

And, perhaps most painfully of all (which she herself had to do while on a missions trip) :

'Are you willing to miss attending a funeral?'

...'Are you willing to miss attending your father's funeral?'

...It scared me to death. To give up so much in faith seemed so incredibly impossible for me.

It came then to the conclusion of the sermon. Donna played a song ("All for You...Lord....") and she asked that if anyone wanted to give their lives to God - to lay everything down to follow Him, to stand after the song concluded and speak out "Christ is my Lord!"

...she did warn us that this was not child's play - that there was no more 'playing church' - we should not take this decision lightly.

...The song played.....

.......and it ended.

We sat in silence...eyes wrenched closed, praying profusely...when voices began to arise.

..."Christ is the Lord of my life!"

..."I want to follow You God!"

..."All for You, God!"

...and through blinding tears I opened my eyes. I saw a wonderful man that I met here at the DTS named Ho-Chun, and days before I had been at the beach with him and his family. I had seen how he played with his daughter, Joy.

I had never seen such wonderful love for a daughter in all my life. He was splashing with her, letting her climb onto his arms and back, and would shriek with delight at her giggling. He absolutely radiated love - like I had never seen before.

Ho-chun stood up in his chair this morning, and I heard him say "Lord, I would give up my daughter to follow You."

...Something inside me broke. The well of emotions that I had held at bay suddenly burst, and I was completely overcome with a radiant pulse of life and love. This man knew what Love was. He gave his life to God. He would sacrifice everything.

...I stood from my seat, and with upturned eyes and upturned hands, I cried, "Christ is my Lord... I give my life to You!"

...I was shaking. Trembling perhaps. So much of what I thought about God lay smashed at my feet.

I sat, and wept. I wept and shook. Something incredibly important had just occured, and I knew that my life would nevr be the same.

...The trembling would not stop. My fears of abandoning my family and my friends was too much for my heart to bear.

...Donna then quoted scripture. It was John 1:4-6.

"What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it."

She said that we had no reason to fear.

...My trembling subsided. After I stopped trembling, I felt an immense peace flowing through me - and I was strangely serene. My fears had melted, and hope - intense hope - had replaced them.
I can feel the ripples of God's work in me even now. I feel strangely lighter, and my heart feels full. I find that it is (strangely) slightly more difficult to breathe - as if my heart is quite literally filled to bursting.

Everything has changed.

God once spoke to me ten years ago in this place.

Today, I gave my life to Him.

My life will never be the same.

Thanks for your prayers everyone.


1 comment:

  1. Yes! That is straight-up awesome. I remember when I decided to do something similar, to actively seek out things that scare me and do them. It started with a refusal of letting stage fright stall me, and I'm moving it to bigger things every day. That you too would find your world getting bigger every time you stare down fear until it blinks first.

    Since we're both into quotes, here's one of my favorites I think you might like. It's by an author named Paul Coehlo.

    'Once someone asked me, “What do you want to have on your tombstone?” So I said, “Paul Coehlo died while he was alive." The person said "Why this epitaph? Everybody dies when they are alive." I said, “No, this is not true. The same pattern repeating and over again, you are not alive anymore. To die alive is to take risks. To do something that may scare you, but that you should do anyway.'

    That we would all die alive, and that in the meantime, we would live.