Have you ever stuck your head out of the car window with your mouth wide open while driving full-speed down the highway?
It's one of the most peculiar feelings... the oxygen that you desire gushes into your mouth and inflates your lungs.
It's so powerful, so plentiful, that you can't breathe as well as you could if you had access to less.
Normally I would find myself ducking back inside the car into the stillness so that I could internalize what I had received.
Moments after, however, I would miss the overwhelming power and once again dip my head into the torrentuous current of wind that was blowing by.
THANKS FOR PRAYING!
I had a life-threatening experience while hiking up to this viewpoint last week when I fell a few good feet down from a tiny rock-face that I was free-climbing. But, I landed flat on my sandwich-cushioned backpack just barely between a tree and a rock! I'm really grateful for self-sacrificing sandwiches, but I'm more grateful for everyone who's been praying for me. God is protecting me!
HEARING FROM GOD
The biggest growth that I have seen in myself so far - and what will possibly be the biggest area of growing for me throughout this entire DTS - is in hearing from God.
Throughout my life, I've enjoyed talking about and implementing a lifestyle centered around a relationship with God. After all, the whole point of God's plan to restore us , reconcile us to him, and to live with him in eternity, was so that we could have a relationship with him, just like he had a close knit relationship with Adam and Eve.
But if God wants to have a relationship, then doesn't he want to speak to us? All the time? And say specific things too?
I can't tell you how many times a YWAM staff or student came up to me and told me something that they believed God wanted me to know. I also can't tell you how many times they said exactly what I needed to hear.
Last night, most of our team voluntarily went into downtown Denver to play worship music on guitars and go talk to people as we felt led. We had no Bible-beating agenda in mind - rather, pray constantly, listen to the quiet voice of God, and act on it in love.
Here are a couple stories of how I heard or witnessed someone else hear the voice of God last night.
UNDER THE BRIDGE
Three of us guys were about to go under a bridge to talk/hang out with some homeless people we had seen. Before we went, we decided to pray. As we prayed, a homeless man with a beautiful - and massive - white dog was walking by towards the bridge. Jeff - another student - whispered to me, "This is our 'in!'" Jeff stepped out, saying, "That's such a beautiful dog!" It wasn't long after a little chit-chatting with him that we found ourselves under the bridge, listening to stories from the homeless people we met there. No one came to Christ - none of us even felt led to bring him up - but we showed that we appreciated them for who they were. Yet however little of a difference we made, I felt encouraged at Jeff's attentiveness to God's voice and his boldness to act on it.
THE MAN ON THE BUS
Our group made our way to a bus to go into the downtown area. As we stepped inside, I immediately noticed a homeless man sitting in the back, and wondered if there was any way I could strike up a conversation with him. Somebody must have kicked an empty fast food cup that was on the floor, because it rolled into my view, right by the man. Encouraged by Jeff's act of boldness (funny how just talking to people takes nerve), I took a step towards him and leaned down to pick up the cup. As I did so, the bus lurched, and my imbalanced position carried me forwards. I reflexively twisted and sat down on an empty seat next to his dog. This dog was also white, but much smaller than the first one (perhaps representative of Jeff's faith and mine). I smiled and said, "Your dog is beautiful!" He looked down at her lovingly, and the conversation began. We talked about his dog, and he shared some of his life story. Somehow we eventually began talking casually about God. (He actually gave me a word of advice which would take too long to explain, but I really appreciated it!) I wished I could have stayed on that bus with him for that whole evening, but alas, our group arrived at our destination and we had to leave. We gave each other a fist bump and a "God bless," and that was that.
THE "TALL ELDERLY MAN"
Before the start of our outreach night, one of the YWAM staff who stayed behind at the base to pray for us told us that he got an 'image' of a tall elderly man. Those were the only words of description that he gave us. After the outreach was over and we were back at the base, the YWAM staff member (who had stayed at the base and prayed) asked us if any of us saw or spoke to an elderly man. He himself was unsure if the 'image' he got was from the Lord, and that he was still learning how to hear from God like the rest of us. I had noticed a couple of tall, white-haired men, but none of them had seemed approachable at the time. The staff asked me if any of those men I saw were black. I said no. The staff member went on to say that the man had either bald or dark, short hair. Immediately the other students who were there now chipped in, that a tall, elderly black man had indeed come over to the worship area and talked for quite a while with some of them. The staff member then asked, "Was he wearing blue?" "Yes!" we all exclaimed, and we even found that the man had worn the exact same kind of blue that the staff member had seen in his mind. Now, who knows how impacted that man's life was by his encounter with us - the heart is not easy to measure. But, we can pray that the Lord will continue to be at work in his life.
The YWAM Denver Summer DTS Team of 2017!
That evening, we talked to many strangers, danced freely to worship music, and handed out food to homeless people. One man gave his life to Christ that night! Others were inspired, encouraged, loved, prayed over, etc. I'm never going to forget some of these people and the struggles they're facing. It was the first time I and many of us had done something like this, but we all embraced it with openness and boldness. We will continue to do these outreach nights almost every Friday night (we call them Kingdom Night).
I could have shared different, happier-ending stories, but I wanted to highlight these three, to show that hearing from God in this kind of specific, everyday kind of way is still new, awkward and scary for me, just as it may be new and awkward and even scary for you. I think in the past I may fooled myself into thinking that one day I might just randomly inherit an ability to hear God all the time and become some kind of awesome prophet who incessantly loves people and changes people's lives. The reality, however, is that deepening relationships requires hard work, time, and an open mind.
Having an open mind is tough. I'm trying to constantly remind myself that I strongly felt that God called me to come to this specific place and specific time at YWAM Denver's DTS. That makes me a little crazy doesn't it? So, it wouldn't hurt to be a little crazier - even if just for a time - and ask God to speak to me, and then act out on what compelling thoughts or images come to mind. But what if I make mistakes and screw up? Then it damages my reputation - but my reputation falls flat in comparison to my unchangeable and guarded identity as a child of God.
"If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God. If we are in our right mind, it is for you."
~ 2 Corinthians 5:13
So, I'm going to press in.