I guess it's always nice to hear someone say after an encounter in prayer with God:
"You came just because of me."
I arrived in Redding USA (I see those green faces and you are allowed to be green 'cause it is truly amazing here and yes, the atmosphere is really - open heavens felt. Many people got healed and some of the testimonies were quite astonishing. Jesus really still heals today!)
My first few days were spent in my room before the Lord. I had an opportunity to reflect on the last couple of months with no disturbance... (except for doing Masters' Module 4 homework)
I was suddenly in the midst of deep prayer overcome by the notion of loss since June. The Lord started to converse with me about Isaac. I have not visited the story of Isaac for years it seemed. In my mind I was at that specific altar that was build to kill a son, a promise of old.
I saw myself on that altar. I saw embedded in me, my brother Zarias that suddenly died of cancer in June.
I saw inside of me the pre-born baby of my brother FC and Corine that Jesus took a few weeks after my brother's funeral. The joy of the pregnancy after waiting over 3 years... oh the deep pain...
Then I saw my dearly beloved and respected house-buddy Penny. We've shared a house for nearly 12 years by now. She broke the news after I came back from the funeral, that she will soon pack her bags to follow the Word of the Lord to her in this next season of her life, moving to a very difficult region in the earth where the Gospel of Jesus (and her impeccable leadership I'm sure) is much needed...
The Lord did tell/warn me about this in February. I never told her. I held it in my heart until it was confirmed... but the reality is only hitting me now. The vision He gave me was that of flying a kite. I was standing there with my dogs when a hand came and cut the string. The kite went into the clouds where I could not see it anymore. I knew it was Penny. I knew it was the Lord. And as little much-afraid in Hinds Feet on High Places use to say, I now say "I accept with joy"
"He answered gently, ‘But, Much-Afraid, I have already warned you that Love and Pain go together, for a time at least. If you would know Love, you must know pain too.’ Then he pressed the thorn into her heart. It was true, just as he had said, it did cause a piercing pain, but it slipped in quickly and then, suddenly, a sweetness she had never felt or imagined before tingled through her. It was bittersweet, but the sweetness was the stronger. She thought of the Shepherd’s words, ‘It is so happy to love,’ and her pale, sallow cheeks suddenly glowed pink and her eyes shown. For a moment Much-Afraid did not look afraid at all.”
― Hannah Hurnard, Hinds' Feet on High Places
Then, I saw my precious Stripes that went missing the week my brother passed away... she plunged me into deep grief for weeks. I am still trusting that God can do a miracle and somehow bring her home. I am learning something afresh of the heart of God for the Lost that He died for... Will I pray for the lost and the dying as much as I am praying to see my dog return?
Then, I saw my Father who was thankfully pulled out of a wreck alive a month ago now struggling with head injuries.
I saw my mother struggling with a non malignant tumor behind her eye and the pain it is causing...
Loss. Loss. Loss and Pain. Over and over the last 3 months. But then I read Genesis 21:1 as if Holy Spirit gave it just for me in this season. "Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah and did for Sarah what He had promised" This passage takes me to Jesus whom Isaac foreshadowed. Jesus was anointed with the oil of JOY. As Bill Johnson said: "Our strength is not stronger than our joy"
It does not matter what I put on the altar, what I place at the cross. My consolation is the risen Christ full of Joy for eternity and being united with Him in the Presence of the Father by the help of Holy Spirit as we hear so often in the Masters, and it trumps everything. It grabs a hold of the hand of Abraham holding that knife.
It says turn, and look and behold the Lamb! I choose to behold the Risen Lamb.
BETHEL CHURCH, Redding USA (Bill Johnson)
In the last three or so years, I have been following Bethel Redding on Youtube and enjoyed the teachings of Kris Vallotton and Bill Johnson. I thought it a pipe dream to visit this church. One week before I knew I was going to go to Costa Rica, Penny and I talked about "the dream to visit Bethel" Little did I know... that I would book that ticket one week later...
I was to fly via Los Angeles to Costa Rica. A thought came to me, to look and see exactly where Redding was situated... and low and behold it was very close to LA. After a bit of research the ball was on a roll... and it felt right! I ended up at Bethel. It felt very surreal to walk into that hall that I virtually join on a weekly basis in Thailand. Even though I knew absolutely no one, people were super friendly and warm. Only two days later did I connect with a Ywam'er :-) who extended typical warm YWAM hospitality. (And she was South African!)
On Saturdays the church facilitates "healing rooms" (This is what Bethel is known for alongside their amazing worship that has gone worldwide) A couple prayed over me and the man started prophesying... and the Lord came in that moment and confirmed so much that was on my heart. I was richly refreshed in God's amazing presence. His tangible presence in that place is quite something!
I am so glad I took the extra few days to visit this church. It was totally worth it. I snuck into the 2nd year student meetings and was able to listen first hand to Bill and Kris - Those guys are deep... they teach at a level with wisdom from experience that is quite something.
I was very grateful towards Jesus that He gave me some time to reflect and digest the pain of the past 12 weeks. It is exactly 3 months since Zarias passed away. Grief is a very slow process... and I find that God's love towards me in this way was deliberate. It was nice to be a blessing to some strangers too. I had some fun interactions with students from all over the world... I fly back to Thailand, refreshed, also knowing that I had the oppurtunity to touch the lives of strangers in these few days. What a joy!