Most of my life, I've felt a little bit radical, and I've never really known what to do with all this passion inside. At times, I've felt really constricted by the boundaries of mainstream, conservative Christianity, but I had huge doubts and fears about exploring outside of its safety.
Last spring, God really challenged me in all of this and asked me why I limit Him and how He wants to reveal Himself to me. So one night, in the privacy of my classroom, during a personal worship session, I surrendered my pride and fears and said, "God, do what You want. Reveal yourself however You want to." And that night, he gave me the gift of tongues.
At first, I was excited, because for the first time ever, God gave me a gift that could only be explained by Him. And in that moment, all of my assumptions and expectations of what is possible were suddenly ripped to shreds. But then, as reality set in, I started to feel really sad. I realized that I've experienced God in a way many people -- even within the church -- won't understand and many won't accept. I had left my safe place of neutrality and would be forever labeled by this supernatural gift.
So for a few months, I decided that, really, nothing had changed. And it's true in a way, because praying in the Spirit is a lot like praying normally; you just don't know what you're saying. But as I kept walking forward and letting God move me, it became clear that many things had changed. Everything had changed.
It's not simply because of the gift, but it's because a people-pleasing, hungry-to-conform part of me had died when I received it, and for the first time, I was open to everything God had for me. In the past year, God has revealed Himself through prophetic word, through speaking specific scriptures to my heart, through crazy, divinely appointed friendships. Even the way I ended up at Life Center (my current church) is totally of Him. I had just fully surrendered my plans to God and told Him I'd even stay in Bangkok or go to a completely new place if that's what He wanted. And that same night, I heard in my heart, "Go to the Brolin's church." I knew of it, because the Brolin family attends our school. So the next day, I went there and I haven't stopped since. Life Center fits my heart in ways only God could have planned, and it was really the main factor in my choice to stay in Bangkok for longer.
I don't share all this to boast of my new experiences. In fact, I say it all with hesitation, because I know some people may think I've now gone off the deep end. And I hate that. I don't want to be misunderstood or judged. But goodness, I don't want to live in fear either. I am grateful that God continues to answer my prayer for more of Him and that He completely blows me away with what that looks like.
More to come. Thanks, Jody, the seal is now broken and my thoughts are again free to flow!