October 5, 2015
I can't believe I've already been here for over two weeks and that my first week of lecture is already behind me! It's been a crazy week full of deepening friendships, adjusting to the crazyschedule here, and powerful moves of God within the school and in my personal relationship with Him.
Our weeks are packed from 7am to 9pm each day with times devoted toworship, intercession, corporate spiritual development, chapel talks, hours of lecture, growth group, team time, outreach prep, work duties, community outreach, quiet times, homework, one on one discipleship, and processing time. I've been told that three months in YWAM is equal to 7 years of the average Christian's growth, and after experiencing the first week of normal life here, I can see why. Everythingthey have for us here is so intentional, both growing us in our faith as well as teaching us spiritual disciplines essential to sustainable zeal. Each moment on our schedule is filled with such potential for growth that nothing feels like just another thing to do. The staff does an incredible job of explaining not just what's expected of us but what the purpose behind each thing is, allowing us to align our hearts with what God wants to do in each area of our scheduled time.
This week our speaker was Ben Nanoa, a Samoan man with a gentle spirit, putting everyone at ease immediately. He spoke all week on the Father Heart of God which can be summarized in one simple and life changing sentence: God loves us, because He loves us, because He loves us, because He loves us, because that's just who He is. God loves us. Now for any Christian, or anyone who's ever heard of Christianity at all, that shouldn't seem like earth shattering news. It's probably not the kind of deep spiritual revelation you were expecting me to bring, but its a Truth that's all too overlooked and misunderstood. Benbroke down what love even means in this culture where it is so overused. It does not mean God tolerates us, or that He loves us because He has to, or when we're good, or from far away. It's deeply personal and overwhelmingly constant. I wish I could bring this heart revelation to reality for you in words,I long for everyone to know! But only the Holy Spirit can make this a reality in each heart.
Now God's love is something I felt I already understood, at least to the extent I, a finite human being with a limited ability to love, was able to understand. But as Ben spoke about the safety harnesses we often hold on to instead of fully believing God's Truth, it hit home for me. I often have a "just in case" piece of doubt I hold on to, just in case maybe He's mad at me, or just in case I'm putting words in His mouth, or just in case I'm not full of the Spirit by enough, whatever that's supposed to mean. I let what's true feel mostly true, but not all the way, just in case somehow it isn't true for me. I felt the Lord this week lovingly challenging me to let those little seeds of doubt about how He feels about me and what He wants for me to fall away. I won't need them after all,there's a rumor going around that this God of mine is incredibly faithful (2 Timothy 2:13) and able (Ephesians 3:20-21). Next, Ben addressed one of the main things that keep people from experiencing the depths of God's love and plans for them: sin and shame. Our sin keeps us from a Holy God's presence (Isaiah 59:2) , and our shame stops us from moving in relationship as we are intended. We are sons and daughters after all, not slaves. He is the King and the castle is as fully ours as His, we are co heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). However, most of us live like servants, pleased with the scraps of God's love we feel worthy of accepting. We confine ourselves to the basement of the castle, thinking the rooms belong to those who are better than we are, and we're happy just to be on the grounds. But we are His sons and daughters and He doesn't stand for that. He longs for us to throw off the sin and shame which so easily entangles us and step into the house (Hebrews 12:1), into His presence free and clear, that's what Jesus died for after all. So, how do we do that? One of the huge principles Ben spoke on was the power of confession. When we confess our sins to God, He forgives us and undoubtedly there is power in that.(1 John 1:9) But there is also unspeakable power in confessing our sins to one another. (James 5:16) Doing so not only frees us from guilt and shame, it humbles us and let's others in to pray for and encourage us. the enemy loves to tell us that we're the only ones struggling with our sin, that we're disgusting, dirty, and evil. That nobody would do what we did, and nobody will ever forgive us or love us if they knew. But these are lies. We must run out of the darkness into light by bringing our sins into the open. (Ephesians 5:13) The enemy loses his power and we have freedom.
But we're not just all talk here at YWAM- we walk the walk too. On Wednesday night, we had a time of confession. Now this doesn't mean confessing every sin we've ever committed, we don't have time for that- and God's thrown them all as far as the east is to the west anyway (Psalm 103:12), This means confessing sins that you're bonded to (Romans 6:6), things that no matter how hard you try or how much you want to you just can't get free from. Or it's sins that you've never said allowed, sins that are hidden in the secret places of your heart, making you feel worthless and ashamed. It didn't have to be sin only, you could also speak on deep hurts you've experienced that you had yet to receive healing from, or people that have wronged you that you have yet to forgive. As you can imagine, it was an emotional night.And a powerful one. As person after person bravely told the room their struggles, present or past, more and more freedom entered the room. We gathered around each person to pray and speak Truth into their lives. Now, to get a little more personal, what did that time look like for me?
God had warned me going into YWAM that my DTS would look quite different from what I was expecting. For most people, YWAM is a crazy time of upward spiritual growth, but He had already walked me through a season like that quite recently. What He had for me in YWAM was roots work, underground heart stuff that's not so easily seen but essential for a life of living all out for Him. He was so good to warn me of that, and in my typical fashion, I said yes God, absolutely, whatever you want, and then proceeded to expect huge, obvious growth anyway. (I'm like an Israelite who sees one of God's miracles and moments later is worshiping a gold calf. It's a good thing He loves me a lot). As the week progressed He worked quietly in my heart, deepening the roots of Truth that He'd already placed there. While many people were breaking down crying, overwhelmed by the love of God for perhaps the first time, He worked quietly in me instead, taking what He'd already showed me of His love a little deeper. And I was frustrated. Instead of praising Him for all He's already done in my life, I wanted to grow in a huge, obvious way too.I looked forward to confession night, expecting to get more freedom and healing. That morning the Lord woke me up with Jeremiah 1:9 "Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me,“Behold, I have put my words in your mouth." I knew that this verse, a verse He'd spoken over me before, was for me to speak Truth into other people's lives, but I still hoped there would be more freedom and healing for me. Leading up to that time I kept asking Him what do I need to share God? and His still, small voice within me kept saying "nothing. You're bonded to nothing Madi. You're free already, you're mine and you know it." So, as the obedient daughter I am, I rebuked God thinking surely not, that is only the enemies voice. Maybe I'm so prideful I think I have nothing to confess, I should confess pride! And Jesus laughed at me. and would say again "no Madi, you are not bonded to anything. You are far from perfect, but you are not at all bonded." Again, I would search desperately for anything to confess. Oh dear, when will I learn? As the actual night came and people began confessing, the Lord gave me words for them, things to pray over them, Truths to speak into their lives. I continued to ask for anything to confess myself, and He continued to tell me I had nothing , and to give me Truth for other people instead. I began to accept that tonight He wanted to use me to speak into others. One of the leaders came up to me and said God had given her a picture for me of a hand touching my mouth and the word TRUTH on my tongue,I laughed at myself. My God is so good. Still as the night ended I sought the Lord on why I didn't have anything to confess. He gently reminded me of the many times in my past He had called me to confess things and set me free of bondage, but that time was over for me now. There are times of freedom and times of healing, but we aren't meant to remain in those places. When He does His work and sets us free of bondage, we are free indeed (John 8:36), and there is no need to do it again. By His grace He has already freed me of any bondage that ever was in my life, and now I am fully running after Him, it's time for me simply to believe it and to walk in it, leading others to freedom. After all, it is for freedom that I am set free (Galatians 5:1). The next day in our outreach teams we were given time to confess to one another anything else, and from a place of freedom, just to make sure that what God was telling me was really true, I spoke to my team any ongoing struggle I had ever had in my life, with anxiety, with my body, with anything I could think of, as well as how God had set me free from each thing. As I spoke I realized how easy it was to share those things, because God truly already had set me free, they were no longer shameful or difficult, because they were far from who I am in Him. It was so confirming, realizing I had been correctly hearing His voice all week, that I truly was clean and right with Him. It was also very bonding with my teammates to be able to tell them where I came from and where the Lord had brought me. I was excitedly telling the story of his faithfulness to me, from a place of freedom. My teammate and friend Megan expressed to me the encouragement of seeing someone truly free from past bondage, because that meant that God could do it in their lives too. It is for freedom that I was set free indeed. We are not meant to live in bondage, and by His will and grace, we don't have to. What a joy. My leader Kent got a picture of me running after God but that some ropes were holding me back. Those ropes for me however were simply fear-fear that I'm not who I am. Fearthat I don't love Him the way I do. Fearthat I'm not following Him the way that I actually am. And He saw Jesus cuttingthat doubt away. He certainly did that for me this week, showing me where I am in Him, and glimpses of all that's to come.
Well that was an incredibly long update. If you've stuck with me to this point you're awesome. Thank you so much for reading! If you could remain in prayer for me as we move into this next week, I would greatly appreciate it. As always if you have anything I can pray for you for email or text me (really do it, nobody doesit but I want to pray!!) Also I still need a bunch more money than I have for outreach. If you feel led to donate anything at all you can do so at this link https://www.easytithe.com/f/?k=LB7R0VFSE469J1PM and I would so greatly appreciate it! I love you guys, can't wait to tell you what God does next week!