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Renewal night again this week. It was an OK day following an OK week. But I felt like I was running on the dryish or emptyish side of things. I longed for "the old days" when His Spirit used to manifest so strongly on the building that you could sense His presense just walking in. I longed for the "old times" when I felt so full to overflowing and absolutely saturated with His presense. That is NOT to say that I have backslidden or fallen away from Him. But as I continue to walk out my day-to-day christian life, I find that I still have times when I struggle with things and still have times when I do not sense that intimacy like I would like to. I have seen greater levels of His power/presense in my life than before the renewal, but sometimes I feel like I'm "running on empty".
Anyhow, I remember praying on the way to church that the Lord would bring along a larger ministry team tonight so that I'd have the liberty to just soak. I had not had a chance to just soak in the renewal anointing since December of last year (almost six monthes ago) when I was at Mott. I'd been "faithfully" at every renewal meeting at our church since then (except for the two that I missed being in Moscow and one Friday night where the Lord told me to just stay home and rest.) Many times I'd gone with the intent of just soaking and not ministering that night, but something would always come up where I'd end up having to minister instead of receiving. But this Friday night, I heard the Lord say, "OK, tonight I will arrange it so that you do not have to minister and can just soak."
I remembered being excited about this and praying "Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!!!" Sure enough, two extra people showed up for the ministry team that night -- folks who used to be regulars but who had been traveling alot these past two monthes and had not been partisipating on the ministry team. So, there were a total of 5 (excluding me) who were released to pray for people. Turns out we had a bigger crowd than usual for us lately -- somewhere between 45 and 50, but that was still a large enough ministry team to handle that crowd. I was free to just receive, just like I'd heard the Lord promise to me on the way to Church.
So, I was looking forward to this Friday Renewal as "my night" to just receive and be blessed. But things started to go wrong from the moment the service started. First, I started getting a mild sinus headache -- I am not usually prone to headaches. I spent some time trying to figure out if this was a word of knowledge (considering last week) or just an unusual thing that happened to be happening to me that night. Then the worship leader chose a bunch of songs with a very western twang (I hate western music) and with lyrics about feeling defeated and needing the Lord to come and help us. He seemed to have selected a bunch of unusual songs that I did not particularly like and when he did songs I knew, he did them at half tempo (very slow and solumn) with a twangy western tone. Try as I might, I just could not get into the worship. In fact, I felt like I was enduring the worship time rather than partisipating in it. (I think it was just me -- most of the folks around me seemed to be deeply into worship.
Then Bill got up and gave a brief exhortation, saying he was going to skip the sermon and move right into ministry time tonight. So he opened it up for people to come up for prayer. At first, almost no one came up. I wanted to go up, but I sorta wanted to wait until more people where there. I did not want to be the first one up. But I felt that I needed to receive so I went ahead up.... I happened to be sitting in the back, so by the time I reached the front, about 4 other people were already there. I stood there with my eyes closed and my hands slightly raised (you know, arms down, elbows bent and hand raised in worship from the elbows up). A few minutes later, Lani came to pray for me before she went up to be a part of the worship team. It was good prayer, but not much seemed to be happening with me. I remembered thinking, "Oh, this must be what if feels like for those folks who consider themselves hard to receive." A little later Bill came and prayed for me. Bill does not say much when he prays for people, but he prayed for me more than usual. I could sense the Lord's presense around me, but it was not overpowering. It was sweet and gentle. There was not any the of manifestation --no shaking, no falling, no jumping, etc. But His presense was definately there. At one point, Bill stopped praying and gave me a short prophesy. He said that he saw a curtain being ripped back and all sorts of light pouring in. He said that I was going through a dark trial (very accurate) and that the Lord Himself was coming soon to rip through the veil of that trial and bring His light into the situation. A lovely message of hope for me and I felt encouraged. I knew God was with me in the trial, but it was SO nice to hear Him encourage me about it and to imply that it would be over soon. Bill moved on to pray for someone else.
I continued to have that light sense of God's presense, sweet but not overpowering. I dropped to my knees because it was more comfortable than remaining standing. After a while, Debbie came by to pray for me. She thanked the Lord for arranging a time for me to just recieve (Debbie does move in word-of-knowledge) and asked Him to fill me back up to overflowing so that I'd have a deep reservoir to minister from. Her prayers were very nice and very approriate, and the sense of the Lord's sweet presense increased a little, but not much else seemed to happen. I think I'd been hoping that He would just blast me with His presense and hit me with His power and do some sort of mighty and powerful work in me. But the Lord had other plans for the night. I was mildly disappointed because I wanted a powerful experience. But His quiet presense is so sweet that it was hard to be very disappointed. At one point the Lord suggested that I should just lay down and get comfortable. He told me I'd be there for a while because He wanted to just soak me. So I laid down. But I was unable to get comfortable -- the hard floor hurt my headache, making the pain much worse. I was about to get up, but the Lord told me to stay down for 10 songs and wait for Him. Well, not much seemed to happen until near the end of song number 6. Then then the Lord spoke to me about some deep things in my own life. He called for me to commit an area of my weakness to Him so that He could bring His glory into it. I did make that commitment to Him. The whole experience was quiet and gentle. I was surrounded by a gentle sense of His presense and peace. But not all that much seemed to be happening.
Somewhere along there, I lost track of which song we were on so I asked the Lord. He said it was only song number 8. My head hurt and not much was happening, so I wanted to get up. He said to wait for song #10 to end first. So I just lay there waiting for the songs to go by so I could get up and go home. There remained a gentle but sweet sense of His presense, but not much seemed to happen. While I was down, Larry and Meri both came to soak me in prayer and Debbie came back and soaked me several times. I certainly received a lot of very good ministry that night. But it really felt to me like not much had happened.
When song #10 ended, I got up and looked at my watch. It was after 10:00 PM already. I decided to go home and go to bed. This is the first time I've ever left the renewal meeting when it was still going on. Often I stay to the end and help close up. It a way it felt funny to leave so early. But in another way, it feel like a freedom I was not used to. Besides, my headache was pretty bad by then, and I really did need to get home.
So, I went home and when to bed. I remembered praying, just before I fell asleep, and telling the Lord that I was a little disappointed He had not touched me more that night -- after all, it was so seldom that I just got a night to soak. He kind of chuckled and told me that He'd done a whole lot more than I realized.
When I woke up the next morning, I was surrounded by a sweet sense of His presense. My hubby is out of the country right now and won't be back until Tuesday. I had no plans for this Saturday -- a totally free day. The Lord told me not to try and plan out my day, but just to let Him plan it out. The sweetness of His presense was awesome and I ended up in an extended time of intimacy prayer. Then I had a few phone calls I had to make and then some more intimacy prayer and worship. Before I knew it, it was already 1:30 PM. The day was sure flying by and His presense was so sweet. Then I decided to get into scripture. The Lord really opened things up me. (I should confess that even though I love scripture very much, the past 3 or 4 weeks it had been a struggle reading my bible -- more like something I had to force myself to do than something I delighed to do.) But He met me so personally as I read the Bible and kept speaking to me. It was better than watching a good movie. After two hours, I took a little break and had a nap. Again His sweetness surrounded me. I woke up about 4 hours later, feeling very rested. I also felt a yearning to get into more scripture, so I did -- for another 3 hours. Time just flew by as He sat there with me and enlightened the scriptures to me. It was wonderful and delightful. I took a short break to chat on IRC for a while and then -- get this -- back to more scripture. It was so alive and so wonderful to read. Hard to immagine that it was a struggle to force myself to read for 1/2 and hour per day a few days prior. Now it was so alive and I just could not get my nose out of the bible. The Lord seemed to be right there in the room with me, with one arm around my shoulders and using the other arm to point out neat things from His word. Before I knew it, it was late and I had to get to bed. I put on a worship CD and fell asleep to praise music... having a wonderful chance to worship along with the CD first.
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