It’s so rare to actually catch a glimpse of how you’ve grown, which is why debrief is rapidly becoming one of my favorite parts of this whole DTS experience. To be given time to look back over the past 6 months and recognize where God answered prayer, to see how He worked in you and how He fulfilled promises, to hear from others how they’ve seen you grow…it’s a rare gift.
I think I felt it first and best at our school worship Sunday night. Most of you probably remember my first Sunday worship night on campus. If you don’t, you can read all about the experience here. It was uncomfortable, to say the least. I felt out of place and overwhelmed and, if we’re being honest, kind of terrified. Worship was weird, I was way out of my depth with all the charismatic, and I felt like a hypocrite, pretending to feel something so people would leave me alone.
This Sunday it felt like home. I cried from the sheer joy of having 90 people that I love dearly standing around me, pouring their hearts out to our God. The voices were the same, but this time they were the voices of family, and hearing the sound of all those familiar voices lifted in song was one of the most beautiful things I’ve heard in a long time. The girls that got slain on that first Sunday (and the people who were praying for them) were around me again this time, but they were my friends and teammates. The words were the same, but the meanings had shifted.
I still remember very specifically singing King of My Heart that first Sunday. I was soooooo overwhelmed, singing “You’re never gonna let, never gonna let me down” with my whole heart, clinging to those words desperately as a promise that God would get me through this alive and unharmed in soul and spirit. This time I sang those same words as a declaration, having experienced the truth of them over and over again.
That’s the beauty of debrief, being able to look back over the last months and realize that, indeed, He never did let me down. There were times I felt let down, abandoned, forgotten. But I never was. He was always right there, begging me to let Him love me, and defying my expectations with something completely un-looked-for. Last night, He spoke to me about expectations. (SO much of this whole outreach and even lecture phase has been about having the right kind of expectations. Hint: it’s almost never like you would expect.) One of my favorite quotes from lecture phase about finding a spouse went something like this: “Look for the one that makes your ‘checklist’ obsolete.” Our lecturer was talking about his wife, who was none of the things he would have picked out in a wife, but was so much exactly what he wanted and needed that the list literally didn’t matter. God told me this about life last night, “I want to give you the kind of life that makes your bucket list obsolete.”
I have all these plans and thoughts and ideas and expectations about what I want to do with my life. And I used to get annoyed with God because He would ignore those things and do something completely different with me. “Never mind that you want an internship with your old company, you’re going to sing opera this summer instead” (long story). “Never mind that you’re a mountain girl, I’m moving you to Hawaii.” “Never mind that you want to go with your friends to Paraguay, come to Puna and become friends with me.” “Never mind that you want to have big, exciting testimonies, come experience my love and faithfulness instead.” Nothing is what I expected, nothing is what I would have picked out. I used to get so mad; “God, if you love me, why don’t you ever give me what I want!?” (Side note: realizing how much that sounds like a bratty teenager actually really really helped me.) But would I rather have the man that checks off my list, or the one who is so good that my list is forgotten? Would I rather have a life just as I designed it, or the crazy adventure of a life that is so good that my list is forgotten? … Is that even a question???
We had testimony night tonight (maybe I’ll post the testimony I got to share next), and afterward we were singing All is for Your Glory. The bridge (or technically, the post-chorus) says,
Put me anywhere, just put your glory in me.
I’ll go anywhere, just let me see your beauty.
Singing that, I had the realization that many people sing that with “anywhere but my own backyard” in their minds. “Anywhere but the United States.” “Anywhere but here.” They want to be sent to “the hardest and darkest,” launched dramatically into the nations to save the lost and heal the broken! But sometimes the hardest thing is to stay put. To look into your own neighborhood and pour into those people day after day, year after year, only seeing small changes. To plant seeds that you may never get to see grow. To pray for the revival that you may never see come. To do the un-glorious tasks that don’t make for a snappy, exciting story. But our school proved during this outreach that we meant what we said when we said “anywhere.” There were several outreaches a lot like mine, where sowing seeds and loving people were the order of the day. Where not much exciting happened except that stronger relationships with God were developed. We were willing to go anywhere, do anything for our God. Even what no one else wanted to do. “Well done, thou good and faithful servants” was the whisper of God’s heart to me tonight. It’s definitely a change in me that I really am willing to go wherever God sends me, provided He goes with me. Provided He keeps speaking to me about who He is and who He’s made me. If that’s the only change I take away from this experience, that I mean it when I say “anywhere,” I can be 100% happy. Of course it’s not, because God is God and He’s bigger than just one thing. But I’m sure thankful for that one thing.