So, this past weekend the BSU leadership team, along with the new Freshman leadership team, embarked on an adventure to Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham, Alabama. It was a great weekend. I (and a friend) only stayed from Friday night-Saturday afternoon, as both of us wanted to get back and rest before church on Sunday. So, Friday on the way up, with her car, Gerald, PACKED full of food and drinks and the like, plus us in the front, we chatted quite a lot just about life and what God had been teaching us. It’s amazing how we pretty much have gotten into a routine of eating lunch together once a week, and yet we can still talk about so much. I’m so blessed that God has brought her into my life.
Anyway, after some chatting and singing together, we listened to John Piper’s message from Passion 2011 (ATL), “Getting to the Bottom of Your Joy.” She had been there firsthand, but I’m not set to go until April. Plus I was too busy reading through Narnia to listen to the live feed. However, John Piper is awesome and puts every single one of his sermons on his website. So, I found this one, downloaded it, and we tuned in on our way to the retreat. Wow. That’s all I can really say. How many things–boys, myself, friends, family–have I tried to place at the bottom of my joy and been unable to be fulfilled? Only God can be my fulness of joy. Only God can fulfill my deepest longings. Everything comes from him, all other joys–marriage, purpose, family, friends–come from him being the foundation of my life and my joy. “All my fountains are in you.” That is a very sad and condensed version of everything God taught me through that one podcast. Check it out here. Well worth the hour of listening. Piper is so honest and down-to-earth, which makes this a much easier listen than last years Passion message (although I would highly recommend it as well, it also can be found on his website, in audio and written form).
On the weekend, we played plenty of fun games (my favorite was the random box game in which we only had one “casualty” hehe) and talked about being a leader. I went in expecting to have fun, but not really for God to meet me and teach me. However, the opposite was achieved. God is just good like that.
The one experience that sticks out above the rest is when we went hiking. In order not to reawaken any back issues, I opted to be taken up to the top and hike to a waterfall and sit and be with God. And oh did we meet there. The walk wasn’t too long, but had bits of leftover snow and ice, a beautiful site. I listened to music (my new favorite, Mandi Mapes) and walked slowly and took it all in. When I reached the falls, I sat a bit away and waited for people to clear out. After they did, I moved closer and sat in a little crevice in the rocks. I listened to some more music, but my ipod was slowly dying. So, I turned off the music and began to type out a prayer (I had left my journal in our meeting room) on my ipod touch. Unconventional, yes, but God indeed spoke. I was asking Him for vision and to give me His words (since I didn’t have my Bible either) to show me what to do. And He answered with Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in all the earth.” In those moments of prayer, He met me and told me to slow down and be still. If you’ve seen my recent posts, you’ve seen the rather large “to-do list” God has given for this year. And I was surprised when He told me to be still. I want to impact others. I want to see God change lives and use me. I want this and I want that. Check marks on my entrance exam to heaven. And over and over again, “Be still.” Love me fully. Know me. Take your eyes of the to-do list. Place your eyes on me. The last thing His spirit prompted within this prayer was John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches, whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from ME you can do nothing.”
What I took away from this was that He does have a plan, a vision for the next year. And it’s way bigger than a radical experiment. It’s way bigger than spring break in Dubai. Summer in Oklahoma (or Chicago or wherever He places me). It’s bigger. He is bigger. Why I am limiting Him in my thoughts and perceptions of His movement? I must be still and know that HE IS GOD. God. Yaweh. Jehovah. The one true God. Creator. Lover. Husband. Redeemer. And so much more. And right here, right now, I am called to rest in that…and let Him move and amaze and astound me.
“Yes Lord, walking in the way of your truth, we wait for you. For your name and your renown are the desires of our souls.” Isaiah 26:8.
Quickly, I’ll tell of the rest of the weekend. On the drive back, my friend & I pretty much only talked for 4+ hours. We had one meal together (O’Charley’s [and no, I haven’t forgotten my commitment, but driving gives no other option], at which, mom & dad, I had a salad, steamed broccoli, and soup…no rolls, they were OUT! crazy, but healthier!), which was full of really random questions. But aside from discovering how awesome Derek Webb is and rediscovering the joys of Ewan McGregor’s voice in Moulin Rouge, we just talked. And I (yes, ME!) talked for the last full hour STRAIGHT. Craziness. I cannot remember if I blogged about this, but God had led me to share my story with a friend when I got back, and it came up on this car ride back, in the last hour. It took awhile, was painful, but my friend also showed me how much God has redeemed my past and now some things actually make more sense to me now than before I told her my story. God is awesome like that.
Ok, last thing I promise! God taught me about fasting yesterday. I’ve never really put my thought into fasting, which is just not cool. It has some up so many times just in the past few weeks. So, I’m praying for what that is to look like in my own life. Pray with me, and check out Isaiah 58. And Joel 2:11-29.
I’m done, I’m done! But God most definitely is not.