“In the same way, none of you who are unwilling to give up all of your possessions can be my disciple.” -Luke 14:33
Wow. Where do I begin? Only had two weeks of school and I feel as if I have been studying here for months already. I have never been so loved. Never been so full. So hungry for more. I am surrounded by some of the greatest community here at this school and am continually blessed with some of the most loving, encouraging, and spirit-filled staff members, teachers, and mentors. I could never have imagined this. I definitely didn’t ask for it. But God, in his goodness, provides. Not just what we want, but what we need. What we really need; not just what we think we need.
I could go on and on about what we do here and what I’ve learned so far- but honestly I’m not even sure where to begin. We are instructed by what I believe are some of the wisest and loving humans on the planet. We are brought into the presence of God on a DAILY basis. We are prayed over more than we can even comprehend. And from the moment class begins to the second it ends; I am overwhelmed by the presence and the love and the goodness of God. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Each morning we start with worship and intercession at 8am. We go into the 24/7 house of prayer and meet with God face to face. After an hour in there (which is never long enough) we go into the classroom to have lessons; which are taught by different leaders each day. We also have assigned “small groups” of about 6-8 people that we break into for discussion, encouragement, and prayer; and “mentor groups” (or small, small groups) of 1-2 students and a leader that we go to for deeper accountability and growth. Then one day a week is community day; or team building. It’s all of the year one and year two students together that play games, do bonding activities, and team challenges. I feel like I have already been friends with some of these students for most of my life. We have memorized scripture together, ran around in the rain, and had family meals. I still can’t believe I get to do life this next year with some of the greatest people around; a few of them have moved across the world to be here! We have five international students, and half of our leaders are from Bethel!!! We went to a conference together last week and have already planned two more for this fall. Everyday is an overload of information and spiritual encounter; I haven’t even had time to process it yet. On top of work and a good supply of scripture-based homework; I hit the bed exhausted every night- but oh so full.
On the day before school started; I was journaling about all my emotions and excitement about this upcoming year. The very last line I wrote was “Lord, Have It All.” And that has since become my theme for school. One of my teachers even made me a painting saying just that. I am going into this year just so so open-handed; ready to receive any and everything that He has for me. The song Have It All by Bethel has really come back into mind during this time; and their whole album has been on repeat for me these past few days. (It’s a couple years old now but so dang good!)
Literally in the 2.5 days it has taken me to write this; even more incredible things have happened. I guarantee if I tried to describe every day of school I would have to write 3 blogs for each one. Last night I was even under spiritual attack because of it. We have been going so deep with God and so far into His presence in an experience of Freedom and Joy; We all danced around the room with flags during worship yesterday morning while singing out praises to Him. I have been just in a place of such deep intimacy and it has been INCREDIBLE. But once I got home yesterday and went into work- I just felt this heaviness and darkness and sadness overcome me. I didn’t have a cause for it and I couldn’t shake it. It followed me the whole night; and even as I went to bed I was praying against it. This morning I still felt heavy- and I went into worship just needing to receive. I realized that this was an attack of the enemy and I needed to continue to battle it. As I came in, I knew this spirit could not last in the presence of the Lord, and I was anticipating for the freedom of it to come! My friend Olivia approached me when I came in and asked if I would lead worship with her. At first I wanted to say no, because I knew that I needed to just soak in His presence as I continued this spiritual warfare. But the Lord promised me that this would be good for me; and that even from the stage I could receive His joy and fullness. So I obeyed. Halfway into worship I felt myself take a deep breath of fresh air; as if I was breathing for the first time. I inhaled the Spirit, so deeply, breathing in with it a new level of life. I felt the heaviness, sadness, exhaustion, and darkness fall off me as I continued to praise the giver of life and love. It was the most incredible feeling- I literally inhaled freedom as I shook off these attacks of the enemy, and could worship so much more freely as a result. We even had prayer afterwards and I had two of the greatest girls praying over me as I told them what I had been facing. We also prayed over the class as a whole; because wherever the Lord is working, the devil is attacking as well; and I wasn’t the only one who battled spiritual warfare this week. But I am encouraged by this because I know GOD IS VICTORIOUS and He is doing big things here at HSSM. And we’re just getting started!!!!! Upsetting the devil is the biggest sign that something good is happening.
Since I have been here I have led worship at two churches already! I have never been in a place of so much opportunity and so much growth. I am challenged every day, and surrounded by a loving community most everywhere I turn. I sure miss home a heck of a lot; but God is faithful everywhere He sends us.
This is a picture of all of us after going ziplining (Yes, we did that!) today. These people are my new family and my heart is so dang full.
Sending all of my love back home. I love y’all so so big!!! Missing everyone a little extra, and my heart’s biggest desire is that you could all experience something like this one day. My eyes are being opened to so many sides of God that I’ve never seen before- and THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING! Thanks so much for all of the phone calls, texts, and FaceTime calls! They mean the world. Come visit me sometime so I can show you all of this in person!