Hebrews 12:10- “…but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness.”
Wow guys. Have you ever just looked back over your week or weekend and been utterly amazed at just how much happened and how many ways God revealed Himself to you? Well this weekend was one that I may not ever forget. I had more God moments and revelations in these past 4 days than the last few weeks combined. To put it differently- there are just some things about the Lord that you just can’t learn in school. No matter how much you study, read, pray, listen, sing, dance, or get imparted over- there are some aspects of God’s character, and some parts of yourself, that you will only learn through doing life with Him.
Thursday is where it all started. We had a speaker come in this week and share many stories of what she has walked through with Jesus and her main theme throughout her time in ministry was that “God disciplines those He loves.” (Proverbs 3:12) Of course we all have heard and probably experienced this to some degree; and I have many personal examples of times where The Lord really convicted me to show me more of His Holiness through my own weakness. It always reminds me how much I truly need His Grace, and how my works alone will never be enough- even with the best of intentions. But on our outreach day last Thursday, these words weren’t hanging in the forefront of my mind as we piled into the van to go into Lancaster City. Our task of the day was to be stranded in the city: No phone, No wallet, No money, and No car- with the objective of getting home, and doing ministry along the way. When we first found out we would be doing this; many nervous laughs came forth from the group, and most of the class was very uneasy. But I was super excited! The thought of being stranded in the city and finding a kind stranger to drive me home while praying over those we encountered on the streets filled me with expectation and adrenaline Never had I done anything like this; but I was so excited to see God move in completely new ways. Little did I know that the move of God I was waiting for was actually a difficult reminder of His sovereignty.
Now the story of all that happened that day is VERY long, so I will do my best to keep it condensed. (If you’d like to hear more details about it feel free to contact me) All of us students split into groups of between 3 and 4 to go out on the streets looking and praying about who to talk with in order to make our way home. My group (Aba, Jake, Eileen and myself) decided that before we did anything, we would sit down and ask the Lord for clues as to who we should talk to- so that we weren’t distracted along the way. This is called “Treasure Hunting”. You make a list of clothing, places, people, names, or sicknesses that you believe God is telling you to look for; and then you go out in faith finding these people (treasures) to bring them encounters with God through healing, prophesy, sharing the gospel or just encouraging them. After only a few minutes we had a very solid list, and each of us was confident that these were the people God would have us encounter and ultimately get us home. The list ranged from things like white hat, yellow jacket, black shirt, to the name Jackie, and even ages like 12 years. We also had a couple of injuries listed knee pain and back pain. Finally, Eileen wrote down blue van big enough to take 4 people to Ephrata. It was more of a joke but we knew it could easily be the tool God chose to use for us. So after prayer, we confidently headed out, knowing that God was going to get us home and do some miracles along the way. We had several short encounters with people along the streets; but nobody we found seemed to match any of our descriptions or have any leads on a way home. We had some really good conversations with local shop owners and Jake even found a friend of his in a coffee shop along the street- but we still had no idea of what we would do to get home. None of our treasures had been found and nobody had any help for us. By this time, we were starting to get frustrated and annoyed. Our nerves were fraying and since it was raining all day; we were cold, wet, and grumpy. We asked God to provide us a way home by 12, in faith, and when 12:15 rolled around and we found ourselves still in the streets- our confidence and hope was severely lacking. One man had begun talking to us and we got excited because he said he was a Christian but he had cerebral palsy and we were eager to pray over him. However, we ended up in deep discussion and when we tried to pray before leaving, he kept trying to change the subject and was more interested in discussing theology. Because we were short on time and he seemed very resistant, we just blessed him and left; another discouraging encounter. By this point, we were desperate for anything that would bring us back, and every car that was even remotely blue or could pass as a van we began to approach, hoping to find the owner. But even these efforts were fruitless. Finally, Eileen remembered the mission organization we had helped out with during ministry a few weeks prior- called Water Street Rescue Mission; and we decided to walk there to see if any of the pastors could help us out. Because none of us had phones or knew the orientation of the city; we stopped at several city maps in order to get our bearings and started to head in the direction of what we thought was the mission organization. After about 8 blocks we asked for help and realized we had miscalculated, and had another 6 or 7 blocks to go. We were so discouraged and wet and crabby at this point- it was hard to stay positive. After nearly an hour of trudging through the weather, we found our beacon of hope. But the director (pastor Booth) was out when we arrived; and none of the other workers or volunteers had a way to help us. He was told to be returning at 3:30, so we left our information and told them we would come back when he arrived. They sent us up the street to the hospital to look for more help there, and when we went they sent over a call from the pastor saying that he knew of another place as well that could probably help us until he returned. Since it was only half a block from where we were, and he wouldn’t be back for another 2 hours; we decided to give it a shot. The church we were directed to was called the Lord’s House of Prayer. It was very large and beautiful. The lady in the office was so sweet- and after explaining our situation, she seemed eager to do all she could to help us. Because her car was too small for 5 people, she went to make some calls and talk to a few others she thought could help. But after some voicemails and a few “sorry, wish we could help” responses; we were faced once again with the reality that we were stranded. Since we knew pastor Booth would be back at 3 to give us a ride, we asked if we could at least sit indoors for a few minutes to rest and warm up from the ugly weather outside. And she was more than willing to help us- she opened a room with couches and heating and we gladly accepted. Exhausted, hungry, sore, and discouraged at the seeming unfruitful day; we sat down in silence. Jake decided that we should pray and worship God; and even though the others agreed, I was in shock. I didn’t want to. What did I have to praise Him for? Couldn’t God have led us home? Couldn’t He have allowed us to see His power in healings and encounters with those on our treasure map? Couldn’t He have made the weather nicer or made our trip shorter? I had only God to blame for all the disasters of the day- after all, the whole reason we were doing this in the first place was to stretch our faith and see Him move through our lives and others. And we hadn’t seen any of this. But, despite our circumstances, we prayed. We worshipped. Jake found some good psalms and we read them. After a while, I found myself praying for a new perspective on the situation; and thanking God for being with us despite our emotions and feelings. We repented for our lack of trust and for all of our doubts. For grumbling like the Israelites did in the wilderness, and for feeling so entitled that God should save us based on our works. Around this time, Jake felt like the Lord had called us to this church for a reason, and even though it wasn’t our way home- He believed we were supposed to do something here. Soon after, the lady who had spoken with us earlier walked into the room. She began to tell us about her life and her marriage and her adopted son. She said she didn’t know why, but she felt like she was supposed to ask us to pray over her and her husband. We were more than eager to believe and pray with her (leaving out the specific details of this prayer for privacy reasons). Near the end I even received a prophetic word for their son, and she seemed so encouraged when it was shared. We suddenly were all filled with so much faith and so much hope. Even through all that had happened; God had ordained this appointment for us. After the prayer, we decided to head back to the mission center and wait for pastor Booth to give us a ride home. The walk was short; and we were now excited about the encounter we had with this woman that the Lord had so clearly placed in our path. Even though she couldn’t help us, we helped her- which was even more satisfying than finding a ride home. So when we got back to Water Street, we were able to interact with many of the homeless residents that live at the center, and we had a good time just talking and laughing with them while the pastor got ready to drive us. As soon as he came in with the keys- we got up and headed outside to his parked car. As we walked around the building, what does he have parked outside waiting for us but a BLUE VAN. All 4 of us stopped in our tracks. We looked at each other with wide eyes and couldn’t help but to laugh. All this time, God had ordained this blue van to take us home. He knew it all along- when we wrote our list at 9:30, He had it waiting all day until 3:30 when we would be going home. It was definitely a surprise to say the least.
I got home and after a quick lunch, went straight to bed to lay down. I was exhausted and overwhelmed. There was so much to process. God had taught me so much over the course of the day- and I was actually so convicted by how spoiled I was. How entitled. How I grumbled and whined when I had to experience a day of poverty and homelessness- but there are people who live like that constantly and are able to rejoice and praise the Lord more than I could. How I got angry when God didn’t show up in the way or the time that I wanted to; when He doesn’t have to put Himself in my box; He is far greater than that. How I say that I will trust God in anything, and how I say I am fully dependent on Him; but the truth is that I only trust God when I can be independent. I trust Him with my future, but not with my present. I can give Him my life, as long as I’m capable of meeting my own needs and can depend on myself for my personal comfort. I was so convicted by my lack of faith, my lack of trust, and my eagerness to complain when things didn’t go as expected. Or as I wanted them to. Convicted by how fast I was to neglect His will over my own personal pleasure. This really hit me hard; it kind of wrecked me. I was reminded again of the speaker who said, “God disciplines those He loves.” and realized that although I felt as though I was being punished, in reality God was showing me His true love for me. It took me almost 2 days to process all this- and I still haven’t fully sorted through it all. But God just kept showing me that this really was for my good. That He loved me. He was teaching me. He was growing me. I wasn’t guilty for not trusting God the way I thought I did. He wanted to expose my weakness so that He could give me His strength. God was revealing my humanness to humble me and remind me of Grace. The true cost of surrender is giving up ALL independence, and I was being shown what that looked like. I wasn’t a failure. My friend Danielle put it into such a beautiful perspective for me as I unpacked all that I was feeling as a result of this. She said, “Kaylee, God wanted to show you something different that day. He was confident enough that your faith wouldn’t be shaken, that He was willing to shake you and show you that. It was to reveal to you that you’re stronger than you think you are. He can shake you and you won’t falter. And He’s going to continue to grow your faith from here.” Wow. All of this really was for my Good. I just didn’t have the right perspective to see it at the time. Often when we’re going through something we can’t understand it till we get to the other side. So I asked God to continue to give me HIS perspective for situations- not just on the other side of them, but in the middle of them.
Then, on Friday night I got called in to work and made 75 dollars. Extra cash that I wasn’t expecting to have. And Saturday morning I left for a weekend at the cabin with 20 of the greatest humans alive. I hadn’t seen them all in awhile because the only time we really see each other is on Sundays at church. At first, I didn’t know how it would be to spend 24 hours of constant togetherness with these people, because I didn’t think we were super close. But I am so thankful I went. I had the best time! We played games all night, formed tons of inside jokes, had hundreds of laughs, tailgate drives in the freezing cold at night, went on a beautiful hike, shared great food, watched movies, and just talked about life. It felt like so much longer than a weekend, and honestly, I didn’t want to come home. I could have stayed there for a week and not been the least bit upset. We worshipped together; and I was just reminded again how much God truly loves me. After He corrected and instructed me, He just took 2 whole days to lavish His love on me through the form of my now closest friends. He brought me a community and blessed it. Even Stewart (one of the guys that came) gave us a prophetic word about how this group was special; blessed by God to change the world. That together we will accomplish much, and God has brought each of us here to know each other, to know Him, and to love ourselves and others. It resonated so deep within my heart because I had been praying for community and I know this is it! These are my people and I couldn’t be more thankful. I love the ways God pours His love out on us. Even through sliding down the stairs in a sleeping bag and putting on coffee face masks (the guys, too!). // I included some photos here for you // He really is bigger than we could ever imagine, and He can’t be contained. Was everything that happened on Thursday worth it? Yes, absolutely. Would I do it all over again? Not willingly. Haha. But I’m thankful that it happened to me. I’m thankful that our small group could talk about it and process together, and I’m thankful that I got to relax and enjoy the weekend afterwards. Even in the midst of my struggles and frustration and grumbling, God was blessing me.
And today (Monday) I am staying home all day to do laundry, homework, reading, and relaxing- continuing to process everything and just enjoying God. His goodness is unfathomable; I couldn’t explain it if I tried. And honestly, I don’t think He wants me to. Just to soak it in and to encourage you along the way- God’s conviction is always beautiful. Don’t let the enemy rob you of receiving the love that Jesus pours out each time He corrects and instructs us. It is for our good to bring us higher and make us more like Him. It always results in joy!