I love that with God when we step towards him, however unceremonious and slight, he always meets us halfway. I am struck by His grace in that.
I went to speak at a really sweet church in Harrisonburg, VA called Horizon Christian Fellowship that has been praying for me and the ministry. I got that feeling that I had just been with family, which was great for me because I hate to speak in front of large groups (and yes, I did make them sit in a circle so we could be more intimate) A few days before that I had been praying that God would give me some time away with Him because lately with traveling, and planning a wedding, I hadn't gotten the time I needed and I was becoming grumpy. The church mentioned they had a “lodge” in the “mountains” and if I wanted to come up and stay they would put me up. At that time I was super busy and super stressed about the fact that I have to speak to a congregation on Sunday and hadn't gotten a word from God yet. I hesitated for a second, thinking of my busy schedule and then I realized....wait, this is ACTUALLY what I prayed for but it's up to me to step out and take it. So I did. One long, winding, “where the heck are these people sending me, was I supposed to turn at that barn?” car drive later I arrived at my new favorite retreat spot.
Here I am sitting in the most adorable cabin you've ever pictured in your mind or seen on the front cover of Little House on the Prairie. Cute deck, great woodstove, a rocking chair. Ok there's no indoor toilet, but that doesn't stop me because I'm from Uganda remember? Ronny shows me how to use the propane lights while I have visions of accidentally blowing up my new home, and leaves me with a huge white suburban by telling me that “If it doesn't start in the morning just pop it into neutral; that should work” while I mentally try and remember where neutral is on a gear shift. But I begin to feel this growing excitement that I'm having an adventure with Jesus. Which I desperately need. And I think that is the key word. Desperate. When do we become desperate enough for Jesus that we just have to make a change. Or get lost in the woods in a cabin in the least populated county in VA after passing a sign that literally said, “Welcome to the Boondocks.”
I don't know if you're like me, but I usually spend the first hour of a retreat just trying to settle myself into “being spiritual” and end up usually thinking about that thing I forgot to tell my mom before I lost cell reception and had no way to contact the outside world. As I'm trying to start reading my Bible several wasps start circling me. Now, I'm not a bee person. I don't necessarily go into a hysteric frenzy like my little sister, but I would say I have a strong dislike for them. I keep thinking that my mom would say it's because I'm wearing perfume which I can't remember if I am at this juncture or even if wasps are attracted by heavenly smells (ok just give that to me), but this is really absurd. I'm trying to be with Jesus here. C'mon. After about another hour I look underneath my chair to see a huge wasp nest with 3 wasps carefully circling it. Are you kidding me?
So I proceed to rebuke them “in the name of Jesus” which seemed to work on one which flew away, but not on the other. But I refuse to be defeated by two wasps when I'm trying to have my day with Jesus. I won't bore you with the elaborate details of my hatched plan where I had to psych myself up for about 10 minutes before finally spraying them and praying they wouldn't sting me because I don't even have a walkie talkie to alert someone of my impending death. But they're dead.
I do end up having a great time just relaxing and feeling God's pleasure that I've finally come back home to Him, but I keep feeling unsettled because I really want “a word' for this church on Sunday. I just don't want to talk about Zion Project the whole time. I want the Holy Spirit to touch people, and heal people's hearts, and move them to make a huge risk in just following Jesus wherever He wants to take them. That's what I want, but I can't seem to find the words.
The funny thing I find about retreats is that a few hours in you realize how hard is to just be alone without any means of entertainment and if you're like me you realize you forgot the Across the Universe DVD you were going to watch in case you just couldn't pray anymore and feel a sense of rising panic, then guilt, because you really came here to pray, but still wanted a back-up plan.
And pray I do. Then I listen to some Dutch Sheets, “Overthrowing the spirit of Jezebel” which is fantastic and very much needed in Uganda and I realize how easy it is to come up under the spirit of the place you are in. Whether that's going home to your parent's house, or ministering in Uganda these things have an affect on us. Which makes me more grateful for believers and churches who pray for me and the girls in Uganda. It also makes me realize how much more we need it.
Because when we get overwhelmed, or burned out, or tired, or busy we have to combat these things by communing with God. And even though I get a little bit scared in a cabin in the woods alone at night with a picture of 3 racoons on the wall who look like they're staring at me, and a huge (gigantic, rivaling the spiders of Uganda) creature crawls out of the stone fireplace and I have to choose between 1) Am I brave enough to smush it
2)Should I lie awake all night wondering about where it might be...
I'm so glad to be here because I know God is happy I'm here and I feel more like the person I know He wants me to be.
Every time it's worth it. The adventure with Him is worth it. No matter how long we've been gone or how far away we might feel He's still there waiting like the tire swing on the old tree, or the rusty swingset in the backyard. Waiting for us to remember He's there. And even though I still have no idea what I'm going to say on Sunday, I realize it's probably all part of His plan.