Monday, April 18, 2011

Monasticism and High Ropes Course

I can’t believe it’s only been a week since I’ve been gone. It feels like much longer! It’s been an interesting week, I must say. My leaders keep telling us that these next twelve weeks should be very powerful, because they will be completely focused on contemplating the scriptures and knowing God. While it may not have been advertised as this, YWAM’s lecture phase is basically twelve weeks in a monastery. I’ve never thought of it that way, but that’s what it really is. We’re all living together in simplicity on a secluded property on the edge of the city. Our days are regimented, starting with breakfast at 6:30 am every day until 9pm in the evening.

The average week on the base is characterized by daily morning solitude, followed by corporate worship or intercession, then two to three hours of intensive group bible study and learning about the character of God. After lunch, we may continue with our studies, or break up into small prayer groups, or do something else that connects to whatever we’re learning about. In between these disciplines, we also have homework and chores we have to complete for the day. I’ve been assigned to do the dishes after dinner. I’m excited to see what God will teach me through this nightly responsibility.

For class this last week we were learning about hearing from God. Not necessarily about how to hear God, but what conditions in our life make us more or less likely to have that experience. Before we got into that, however, our speaker Marjolein Coghi of the Netherlands reminded us that, first and foremost, God wants to speak; He is in fact a person, and wants to be in a relationship with us. God is always pursuing us, and always has something to say to us.

People hear God when they’re humble; when people are without pride and are not focused on their own ways, thoughts and desires, they hear from Him because they choose to listen to His voice and not their own. People can hear God when they trust Him because those who have faith embrace who He is and claim the truth that He does speak. People who don’t hold anything back from God hear Him because nothing will stand between them. Likewise, people who are willing to wait for God will surely hear Him, because His timing is perfect and He will move or speak at exactly the right moment.

To practice hearing from the Lord, we went on a silent retreat this last Thursday. We drove up to a national park by the volcano just outside of San Jose, where we spent the entire day in silence as we waited to hear from God. Everyone spread out around the park, some walking and some sitting along the lake’s edge or in the woods. I had little faith that it would be a very rich experience. The whole week I’ve felt very distant from God, and like He didn’t even want to speak to me. Seeing my peers experience Him when I did not was very discouraging. During the retreat, I was able to sit on a dock that protruded out over the lake and I got to confess my doubts to God. I didn’t think He was going to speak to me, but He did. I was reading through the gospels and the Holy Spirit highlighted certain things that spoke to my situation very directly.

At the end of John, He reminded me that He works in different ways, at different times, for different people. Therefore, I shouldn’t compare myself to my peers. If I don’t receive a vision, or get a word of knowledge, or have some kind of earth shattering revelation today…that’s okay. If it doesn’t happen tomorrow, that’s okay, too. God has things to say to me, and He will say them when I need to hear them. He also reminded me that He has been faithful thus far. I may not have heard from Him for a few days, but that doesn’t negate the miracles that He’s done to get me here to San Jose.

Another thing He told me, through a parable in Matthew, was to have grace for the people that annoy me. This hasn’t been a huge problem, but there is one person on our team I’ve already written off and kind of avoid. Jesus gently reminded me that that person was not only God’s son, but my brother as well. God told me to give him a chance, so in response I went to lunch with him on Sunday. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that he’s not so bad after all.

All in all, the retreat was amazing. It was so peaceful and beautiful, and Jesus totally showed up to hang out with each of us. The day after the retreat, we drove to the northern pacific coast of Costa Rica where we did a high ropes course in the jungle. I was pretty scared, I must say, because I absolutely do not like heights. But I ended up loving it! It was cool to draw parallels between navigating an obstacle course while strapped to a harness and navigating through life’s obstacles while connected to God.

Should be interesting to see what else God will reveal to me. I’ll keep you updated!

Prayer Requests
-Healing from a nasty cough I’ve had all week, and from bug bites I’ve been getting in my bed.
-Good rest at night. I keep waking up at random hours and have not been getting enough sleep.
-Faith that God would continue moving and speaking to me, even when I may not be feeling it. Pray God would open my mind to the mysteries He is revealing to me.
-Continued bonding and intimacy between me and my team mates as we get to know one another.

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