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When It Just Looks Different

There are some things in life that just don’t make sense. Then there are things that simply don’t have to. Why have I had to struggle with pain for ten years? I don’t know. Why didn’t He heal me at the encounter weekend like I thought He was going to? I don’t know. However, in the process of it all, I have found an incredible peace that certainly passes all human understanding.

You see, what I have gained from Him far surpasses a quick answer and a brilliant moment. I am so much closer to His heart than I was before. There are some things I am sure of: My God loves me and He has personally promised to heal me. When and how He does it is certainly up to Him.

Four months ago, God revealed to my friend Brandon that God was going to heal many things in my life, including my physical struggles. He faithfully prayed for me every day since. And God has been faithful to heal beyond what my meager mind would think was possible. About a month and a half ago, God revealed the same thing to me (that He was going to heal my body) but it was given with a condition: that I truly seek the healing and through much prayer and fasting, show Him my desperation. He wanted to use this to draw me closer to Him.

It took a while for God to bring me to the point where I was ready. Healing is not just physical…when one has struggled chronically with something, there are also many emotional wounds. One by one, God took me through each moment and each scar. His healing hand took away the sting of my past, healed relationships, and liberated me from many damaging fears I had for my life. He is truly wise in His timing, and I have learned to trust in the completeness of His work.

About a week ago, God revealed to me that the time was drawing near for my healing and that I needed to prepare myself for it. I spent many meals in fasting and prayer and tuned my ears to hear His voice. God brought many incredible things into my life; people spoke messages directly from Him, God answered prayers in clear and specific ways, and I had the closest worship times I can remember having.

The night before the encounter weekend, the enemy showed up in all his fury to bring doubt into my life, and I nearly crumbled beneath the pressure. After a few minutes of tears, I realized that I needed to call my team to pray for me. Everyone gathered around me and began to pray and something happened that I cannot explain. The Holy Spirit fell down from heaven over my body and I lost control of my muscles. A tingling sensation started in my hands and feet and moved up my right leg. My nerves went numb. My friend gently laid me on the ground and others began to lay hands on me. My other friend had a vision and felt things coming together in my ankle. I felt all these things as I was nearly paralyzed, lying literally in the hand of God. Hearing the prayers of all those around me and the voice of God speaking to my heart, “Just rest in me,” was an experience I will never ever forget. It was completely Holy Spirit initiated and directed, and was a sign of God’s power not only to me, but also to my team.

I sat up and felt like jello for a long time and slept like I had not slept in a long time. When we left for the encounter weekend, I know what I was waiting for: my Divine healing. After all, I had been waiting and praying for ten years.

The time turned out to be much different than I was expecting. Outside of anything with healing, it was great to close the door on everything in the past that could hold me back in ministry in the future. All the while, however, there was a lot of work that the Holy Spirit did in my heart concerning my healing. I was frustrated and at peace, expectant but at times unsure, and as time marched on and it hadn’t happened, the question of when began to grow in my heart. God led me to fast breakfast this morning, and as I sat down to share a few of my questions with Him, He taught me perhaps the most important lesson I had learned in the process.

Sometimes (well, often) it just looks different. Things don’t happen when we thought they would or look like we thought they would. Sometimes God waits, and we don’t know the reason. However, my job in the process was clarified: only to trust. Questions jumped up in my mind: if God doesn’t heal me this weekend, what will I say to all the people that have been praying for healing for me this weekend? God told me, “That is not your concern. You don’t have to defend me; I can defend myself. All you have to do is have faith, and know that I will handle the rest.” It is true. The promise came from God and therefore it is His responsibility to fulfill it. I have remained faithful in every moment, and so has He. In the end I can only be a witness to this transforming fact: my faith is stronger now than ever before because God has yet to bring the healing. Make sense? Not at all, but some things in life don’t make sense. But then again, some things in life don’t have to.

You see, I serve a faithful God who is wise beyond the understanding of man. I serve a God whose love wakes me up every morning in His sweet embrace and who enraptures me with His Word. I serve a God whose healing is complete and never late, no matter how anxious and impatient I might be to experience the moment. I serve a God who is big enough to handle my questions and who can increase my faith because of yet unanswered prayers. You see, I woke up this morning to hear Him audibly say my name. It was the first time I had physically heard Him speak. If He wants to take His time and give me moments like that, it is worth every tear I cry in expectation. What matters to God and to me more than physical healing is a relationship with God that touches eternity. Someday my body will shrivel up and die. However, every investment I make in my relationship with God and every investment He makes in me does not fade with time or death. It is more real than reality itself. May He continue to transform me in the midst of my questions, doubts, and expectations. May He continue to lead me to a place of peaceful rest in Him, not only when I am lying on the floor in the midst of my teammates praying for me, but also in every moment of every day. I am so in love with my Jesus, and I am thankful that my relationship with Him looks different than I thought it would when I began this journey with Him. I am so thankful that God is different than the God I believed I knew before. He is so much more loving and deep and wonderful than I thought, and I know my healing will look different than I thought it would too. And it is ok.

I have made the decision that whatever happens in my life, I am His and His completely. There is nothing in this world that can separate me from His love or convince me to turn my back on Him. I am His and His forever. Through every high and low, I pray that it all would simply bring me to my knees in front of this God in whom I can confide the deepest things of my heart. What an honor and privilege to be in relationship with Him. I wouldn’t trade a single moment of struggle or “unanswered” prayer. When it just looks different than what I was expecting, I choose to trust Him…and I have never been disappointed. My unchanging God has always been faithful, as He will be forevermore. All glory and honor and praise go to Him! Amen.

The drawing in this blog was made by the missionary we are staying with: Vincent Cork. This is the scene that he saw the night the Holy Spirit fell down. This is what it means to have an encounter with the living God. Praise Him!

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Having A Little Fun – Diversion en Ministerio

Here are a few things we have done in our down times to lighten the load of ministry.

The Ecuadorians prepared a presentation on the history and culture of Ecuador.

Nancy giving part of the presentation

I love their outfits!

And this is part of the North American presentation…don’t you love our cultural dress?

Cj and Mr. Giraffe

Nancy

Luis and Mike Drinkwater

Nikol

Cj and Nikol

Mike, Brandon, and Luis preparing for paintball

Cj, Nikol, Nancy, and Rachel preparing for paintball

Would you want to go against this team?  I wouldn’t.  Pastor Lenilde, Chad, and Brandon

Brandon – the ninja turtle

Luis, Brandon, and Mike

Pastor Lenilde, David, and Ariel

Rachel Kuhn, Chad, and Nancy

Pastor Lenilde, Ariel, and David

Nikol, Brian, and Cj

Chad, Nancy, Rachel, and Cj

Nancy and Brian

Nikol bein’ all gangsta

Rachel bein’ all…not sure what that is

 Yellow team: Nancy, Chad, and Rachel…Red team Nikol, Cj, and Brian

Nikol and Cj getting their game faces on

Red team: Brian, Nikol, and Cj…Yellow team:  Rachel, Chad, and Nancy

 Cj’s birthday:  Nikol, Cj, Nancy, and Me

Nikol, Cj, and Nancy

Scavenger Hunt – Evangelism Event

We had a youth event – search for the treasure – each team of youth had to take pictures of several different challenges throughout the city during a certain time frame.  Here are some pics of the group activities and highlights from our team’s pictures.

Some Pictures of Ministry

Here are some random pictures of ministry from the past 40 days.

At our meeting about the evangelism event

Ariel and Luis waiting to talk about the evangelism event

More waiting

Getting ready:  Heyner, Sheena, Fernanda

Nancy, Nikol, and Cj

Prayer time at a meeting at church:  Heyner, Sammy, and Chris

Eli, David, Ray, Luis, and Mike

Worship band:  Me, Mike, Sammy, and David

Mike, Sammy, and David (it’s about right)

Here are some pictures of our church

Our Ambato pastor Lenilde giving the message while pastor Brian was away

At the Superbowl party:  Nancy, Consuelo, Amanda, and Nikol

One of the church members giving a testimony

Sheena and Mariel

Eli and one of our church members

Brenda and Jessica

Sammy and Luis looking at Sammy’s IPod and David being David

Ray cooking – this is pretty normal as well

Kelsey and Eli

Eli, Jessica, Bruno, and Brenda

Nikol, Megan, and Nancy

Jessica and I

Nikol and I about to indulge in some wings

Nancy and I taking a serious picture and Cj photobombing it

There is no such thing as a serious picture with Brandon and Pastor Lenilde

Superbowl audience:  Chris, Chad, Mike, David, and Ariel

While we were in Arequipa, Cercado (the district where the 40/40s live) experienced the worst rainstorm in Cercado history.  We came out to help families with the clean up the next day.  Here are some pics of our group and some of the damage.

Puno Trip 3

Here are some final pictures from our Puno trip.

Sitting around the half circle listening to a presentation on the floating islands

Nancy and Brandon

Eslie playing with one of the native girls

David and Sammy

David and Nancy…and whatever Sammy is doing…

Nancy and Sandra

Cj and Sandra

Sandra

Luis, Nancy, and Ariel

Sammy and the kids…

Luis, Nancy, and Ariel

Bruno and Eslie playing

David and Brandon

Cj

Nancy and Cj

Ariel and I

Luis and Nikol

I love this picture of Luis…he just looks so happy and chill

Me with Luis

Great picture of Ariel.  We are in a banana shaped boat on Lake Titicaca

Cj

Me

Angela

Cj

Me

Cj with our Argentinian friend

Cj

Me, Angela, Argentinian guy, and Brandon

David and I goofing around

Our friend who is studying in Bolivia and me

Brandon

Cj and I with Ella at the end of our Puno journey

Puno Trip 2

Here are some more pics from Puno.

Thomas

Nikol with the kids

Bruno

Eslie

Eslie

Party time at the church

Nikol and I

Cj and Nancy

Pastor Lenilde and Bruno

Pastora Consuelo and Eslie

Brandon, Angela, and Luis

Nancy and I

Nancy

Ariel and Nancy

Cj is having a thought

Bruno and I

Cj

Cj, Sandra, Ariel, and Consuelo

Lenilde and Luis

Me with Nikol and Nancy

Me with Eslie and Bruno

Nikol and Nancy

Bruno and Eslie

Cj with our friend that is studying in Bolivia

David

Angela

Brandon

Nikol

Some of us at the presentation on a floating island

Some more of us at the presentation on a floating island

Puno Trip

Here are some pics from our Puno trip.

Nancy is happy to eat.

Brandon is THE condor.  Angela, Sandra, Nikol, Nancy, Ariel, Bruno, Pastor Lenilde, Pastora Consuelo, Eslie, and David

Angela, Nikol, and Ray

Sammy, Ariel, and David

Sandra, Consuelo, Nancy, Angela, Nikol

Sandra, Consuelo, Nancy, Angela, Pastor Lenilde, and Nikol

Condor!

David and Brandon…being David and Brandon

Consuelo, Nancy, Nikol, Sandra, and Angela

Most of the group

Ha…oh Brandon…love Angela’s expression

Sandra, Nancy, and Nikol

Cj and I

Cj and Nikol

Me with Sandra and Cj

Me with Nancy and Cj

Sandra, Cj, and Nikol

Luis, Me, Ariel, and Cj

Nikol

Me with Nikol…Nikol got new earrings

Nikol and Cj

Me with Nancy

Brandon and David

City Tour As A Team

Here are some pics of the city tour we took as a team of Arequipa.

Me with Ella and Brandon looking creepy in the background.

Pastora Consuelo, Luis and David

Eslie

Nancy, Sandra, Nikol, and I with Eslie

Nancy and Nikol

Don’t know what Sandra is thinking about…with Nikol

Love this picture of Cj and Ella

Our pastor’s family:  Consuelo, Bruno, Eslie, and Lenilde

Cj, Angela, Sandra, and Me

Ella and I

Me with Pastora Consuelo

Angela and I

A bunch of our group just chillin…

Pastora Consuelo and Bruno

Pastor Lenilde…with Angela and I…this is actually pretty normal.

Nancy on a horse

Ariel on a horse

Nikol on a horse

Nikol without her hat on…on a horse

Pastor Lenilde, Bruno, and Nikol

Ariel

Great picture of Cj

Luis gettin’ ready to ride

Cj and Nikol

Pastor Lenilde with Bruno

Pastor Lenilde with Bruno and Eslie

Nikol and I at Chili’s

We’re just goofin’…

Beginnings

Here are some pics from the beginning of 40 days.  Enjoy!

Nancy and me…I don’t know why I have crazy eyes

Ariel, Pastor Lenilde, and Luis

Nikol and Cj

Hanging out before church – Brandon, Ariel, Nancy, and Nikol

Nancy, Cj, and Nikol

Nancy and Nikol

Angela (our 40 days coordinator) and me

Pastora Consuelo and I

Amanda and I

Angela and David chatting

Our professor from the Cali church Sandra

In the back Sandra and I, and in the front Nancy, Cj, and Nikol

Nikol with Ella
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