I’ve been in a bit of a dark place for about the last week. I’ve gone through a couple slumps during my time here. Even YWAMers go through slumps. Especially YWAMers go through slumps? All emotion seems to be somewhat intensified here. It is a spiritually charged atmosphere. But anyhoo, my slumps have been upsetting me a bit. Here I am, hearing from God more than I ever have (because I’ve actually been listening…good start), having moments where I felt like I really got freedom, and then lo and behold I’m back in a slump the next week. Wha…?
Our speaker today put it REALLY well though. He compared it to visiting the chiropractor. He said his chiropractor told him that the healing we would ultimately experience would only be 20 percent due to the alignment performed there at the office, and the other 80 percent would come if and only if he faithfully did the exercised they showed him at home. Our spiritual walk is like that. We have these moments of alignment with God’s will, but then if we don’t consistently claim that freedom that we got and walk out in it – exercise, if you will – we will not maintain the alignment and will return to…slumps.
Fortunately, God is with us throughout the whole process. This Monday, even in the midst of my slump, God showed me that He would never leave me. He showed me a picture of us walking hand in hand down a path, just chillin, doing life together. And He’s leading me down this amazing path for my life. But sometimes, I balk, or get tired of going that direction, or freak out about where I think it leads. And sometimes I bolt. I just take off running in the opposite direction, as fast as possible. But He comes with me. Still holding my hand, still joyful to be with me. But not leading me anymore. Sometimes, I don’t run in the opposite direction, but I do stray from the path. I just feel like wandering off on my own, exploring the woods. But I get myself lost and end up searching around and around and around looking for the way to the path. And it’s at that point that God (still holding my hand, btw) will step forward and whisper in my ear, “Are you ready to let Me lead again?” And I’ll finally turn around and refocus on Him. And it was crazy, because at this point in the scenario I expected Him to lead me back to the path, but instead we just turned around and I found that we’d never left the path. God knew I’d detour. He had already prepped for this eventuality. Just like that, BOOM! Back in the center of His will.
Folks, I’m really good at meandering, so it’s a really good thing that He’s fully prepared for everything I can throw at Him. And I just feel SO LOVED that even when I take off running, going exactly the wrong direction, even at times actively trying to get away from Him, He just follows along, happy to be in my company, ready to provide direction the very moment I ask for it. Gah I just love Him!
But even after that happy moment of alignment (to continue our chiropractic metaphor), I returned to slumping (hahahaha get it!? Slumping!!? I crack myself up sometimes.) Le sigh. WHYYYYYY? I’ve found, shockingly, that my slumps generally coincide with me trying to figure things out on my own. But the ways in which the adversary trips me into this are soooooo subtle that it’s truly difficult to pick up on it. The past several times, it’s been me trying too hard to be discerning. I’ve always prided myself on being able to separate truth from error (should be alarm bells going off already…prided myself, indeed!), and here I’ve gone through weeks (including this week and the end of last week) where I’m so focused on what everyone is getting wrong, or not getting sucked into error, or (even more subtly) just trying to sort out what is truth in any given situation, that I’ve tied myself in knots and it’s gotten to the point where I just can’t see anything else. Today I was just so done with EVERYTHING. I was tired of worshipping (we seem to do it several times a day these days). I’m not really sure if I agree with half the things they’re saying. I was tired of repenting and “getting freedom.” It felt like an act, and real life always came back anyway. I was tired of praying. I do it ALL THE TIME. Seriously, what else is left to pray for? I was tired of people and tired of my teammates and tired of myself. It wasn’t particularly pretty. Nothing extreme, not depressed or even overwhelmed necessarily. Just tired.
And the simplest thing changed it all. One of my teammates, whom I had become extremely annoyed with because she’s always having a dramatic holy spirit experience (it’s just part of her culture I think – she’s from Papua New Guinea), walked up to my roommate, who was having a rough day, hugged her, whispered some encouragement in her ear, and instantly moved her to tears. And I went, “Woah.” You simply can’t have that kind of immediate effect without listening to God. I don’t think I’ve ever instantly spoken to someone’s heart like that. I’m not trying to compare, that’s not the point. But I realized very suddenly and clearly that I had been hardcore judging her and avoiding her, while meanwhile it was her, not me, who took the time to step out and comfort this girl who is MY roommate, and do so by very clearly listening to God. It was a convicting moment. And I realized I’d had this attitude toward YWAM at large. I’d been “discerning” every bad thing they were doing, and completely missing out on and/or writing off all the amazing things they have going here. Oooooh there was some repentance that needed to happen there.
But once I’d gotten over all of that, I had some questions for God. “God, You’ve called me to exercise discernment. You’ve told me that. How am I supposed to be discerning without seeing the bad as well as the good?” And phew! God had some things to say! He told me, “Allison, discernment is not so much trying to separate good and evil as it is being able to see My plan amid the rubble.” This world is FULL of bad stuff. Even the church. Even other Christians. Having discernment is about recognizing how God is moving and working even in spite of all of that. To see and call out the light, the gold. It’s like panning for gold. Discernment is recognizing the gold flecks in the stream bed and knowing where to scoop up a panful of mud to sift through. It is NOT then trying to remove each individual bit of non-gold by hand. That would be a slow and extremely painful process. That was the process I have been trying to go through here at YWAM. Discern every bit of bad!!! You must not get infected by it!! Eww. It is GOD’S job to sift through all the silt and wash away the mud, leaving the gold behind. It is my job to make sure all the gold gets scooped, even if originally surrounded by muck. I love that even discernment isn’t critical. We want to avoid error, sure, absolutely. But mostly we want to seek truth. If there’s a little error mixed in with our truth initially, well…welcome to life. I hope I never ever get to the point where I think I have only gold left in my pan, where I’m convinced my worldview is completely correct and error-free. There are only two ways I could ever come to that conclusion. 1. I’m completely deluding myself. Of course there’s mud in the pan, I’m just not admitting it. or 2. I’ve stopped searching for gold. I’ve rinsed what little I did have TO DEATH, and it is pure…but there is a lot of untapped gold in that stream that I will never ever see.