Wrapping up my thoughts on this memorable trip… I had a few more observations about the country and the culture that I was going to share, but decided instead to give a more personal reflection.
First, I love serving others in this way, so I was grateful for the opportunity to serve and felt enriched by the experience. As mentioned before, I have the tendency to not think of it in terms of sacrificial giving when I simply do that which I have gifting and talent for, which is of course, music. So when I do music, I tell myself that I’m not really serving, compared to something like living in a hut in the sweltering heat somewhere helping to build a dam or something. I am realizing that this type of thinking is utter nonsense! I have been given certain gifts to give away, and when I use them I am living according to my purpose, and it should be enjoyable, fun, rewarding. And it is!
It was cool to see God do his thing. We just show up and serve and create a space for people to take time out of their hectic lives and give their full attention to God.
I have been going through the past several years deconstructing my belief systems. What this means is that I have discarded professing to believe certain things that I used to “believe” because I thought I had to believe them if I were to call myself a Christian. Instead, I have become honest about what I really believe and have suspended the rest for further analysis.
Lately I have read things that have given language to my journey. The idea that faith in Jesus is more a “way of life” than a “system of beliefs”. Jesus taught that he only did what he saw the Father doing. Likewise, I am only interested in learning what it means to follow Jesus and pursue that as a way of life.
In an effort to keeps things really simple, I have put a lot of the Christian stuff on hold. I have been generally suspicious and non-interested in the excesses of charismatic and pentecostal spiritualism. I have seen so much weird stuff over the years that I have lost all taste for it while I’m trying to just sort out the basics.
But after the experiences of this trip, and also because of recent experiences of good friends, I realize that I have thrown the baby out with bathwater, the “baby” being the supernatural work of God, the “bathwater” being the aforementioned charismatic craziness that has sent me packing. I realize that my self-proclaimed “open” mind has been pretty closed in some ways, and I tend to file some things under the “I am not sure what I believe about this anymore” file.
We participated in a conference called “Naturally Supernatural”, which is a phrase coined by the late John Wimber. The idea is this: The Kingdom of God that Jesus proclaimed has been a reality here and now ever since his arrival and is not some far off thing that only kicks in after we die, or in some new-heavens/new-earth dimension. The whole point about the Kingdom of God is that he wants to use us to make this world a better place: here and now. Part of that work involves the ongoing supernatural work of God which we get to participate in, what John Wimber described as “doing the stuff”.
It was very cool to see people “doing the stuff” once again. People’s lives were changed. Some were healed physically and emotionally. People overall were touched and blessed and left feeling a greater sense of God’s presence in their lives.
So, I still don’t have a lot of stuff figured out, and perhaps I never will. What I do know is that I had a refreshing reminder of God’s love and power in the here and now. And I am very thankful.