Yes, I have two chains to add (not the rapper 2 Chainz--i don't plan on making a regular segment of my blog dedicated to him) and a letter to write to little man and tons of things to update. But I had this amazing experience at a conference last week. And here's the thing about transformational experiences and me: I need to write them down. And the longer I wait, the less transformational they feel and thus become, no matter how much it meant at the time. So please give me the grace to write this down. I promise to get back to business on here soon.
I love being in vocational ministry. That sounds really uptight. I love that my job each day is to go work for a church and spend my time figuring out how to bless volunteers and teach kids that the best friend they could ever, ever have is Jesus. But one thing I have noticed since I officially became a part of the ministry is that I feel more under attack. You may not believe in spiritual attack. I am not trying to convince you it's real. I am telling you in my life I have felt more mental attacks in my life since I dedicated it to facilitating relationships between Jesus and the little ones.
What does this look like? Well, I am sure each person has seen spiritual attacks in different ways. For me, it has come in the form of mental lies. Of unbelief. These are truths I have believed in for years, that I haven't struggled with at all, that are now sneaking their way into my brain. I don't know how they get there (actually yes, yes I do) but I've had tough days of struggling in real ways with the truths of God. I know it's not cool and spiritual to say that. But I sometimes feel we need to hear the uncool to know that we are not alone in our trials (because honestly, aside from lies, evil's other tactic is alienation and making people feel alone. Well, we are going to knock at both today). So yeah. On to the story. Nope, we haven't gotten there yet.
So this past week I was in San Diego for a children's ministry conference. I came away with some great ideas for ministry and renewal in so many ways. We had breakout sessions each day but we also had main speakers, much like many conferences I've attended. So on the 3rd night of the conference, two of my comrades had gone home. We were scheduled to get this white stuff in our area (which did end up arriving). So half went home early. The other half of us stayed and decided if we went home late, no biggie:). Well, the other half and I MIGHT have gone shopping and we might have spent too long in Forever 21 and we might have arrived at the conference after the dinner session had already started.
It became pretty blatantly clear we were late when they sent us to the front to two of the remaining seats and we realize we are sitting in the reserve section for board members and presenters. Um, cool. But whoops?
After dinner, we were being led in worship and those lies started back in my head. And I was so, so sick of it that I did what I should have done in the first place. I stopped praising and in my head (and maybe out loud whispering) I said (and please know I know this sounds a little weird but you're going to have to go with me), "Satan, I know the lies I am hearing are from you. In the name of Jesus, I command you get out of my head. Jesus, I pray that only truth would live in me and you would clear my mind of anything that isn't true and that isn't from you. I believe in your truth and I know when I ask you to dwell in my mind, you will. Please clear out any lies." And I felt pretty instantly better. I was able to praise and I didn't feel all this conflict in my mind.
That would be a great personal story if it stopped there. But, well, it didn't. The topic this particular night was on praying for the international children's ministries. Larry Fowler gave a great message on prayer and I am diggin it. I am in it. Scribbling notes as fast as my bright pink, felt tip pen will write.
We get to the end and he says that a message on prayer wouldn't be complete without praying. Great! I love prayer! So he asks all those in ministry outside the states to stand up so we can gather round and pray for them. I see one of my favorite speakers standing next to me (because, remember, I am in the VIP section somehow). Yes, a bunch of international pastors are near me and Beth Guckenberger, my fave, is near me with her team from Mexico. So I am thinking, "this is sweet! I get to end this day by praying for Beth and her team! Awesome! She's on my prayer list and to think I can pray over her in person. So cool!"
Well, the guy leading prayers looks around, decides there aren't enough people standing so he says, "I am going to add one more category of people so we can all pray over some more in our midst. If you have been in children's ministry..."
OK guys, in my head, he's about to say something about people who have been in ministry a long time and I am getting pumped to pray for those in our midst who maybe are feeling burnout and my mind is racing. I'm excited. That's not what he says..."
"...for less than nine months. If you have been in ministry nine months or less, please stand so we can pray over you." I start counting on my hands. Eight and a half. I look at my coworker. She prompts me to stand.
Guys, I don't want to stand. I want to go pray for Beth. Or someone who might really need it. Or anyone really. But that's not what was supposed to happen. I stood and mumbled something about barely making the cutoff. And before I can get all the way out of my seat, I am completely surrounded by people. All sides. My coworker (boss) is to my right and lays her hands on me. I have hands all over me and the woman right in front of me introduces herself and asks if she can pray for me. Sure. That's why we're here, right? No backing out now.
She starts to pray for me. I can't tell you all she asked. But what I do remember is she asked God to strengthen me. To provide me with young people to stand next to me and support me. To provide me with older, wiser people to mentor me and lead me. And to give me courage and strength to keep going. And I am crying just writing this. But to live it, I felt the tears falling onto the ugly conference room carpet at my feet. I felt so humbled, so vulnerable, and so filled.
It's as if, at that moment, God was saying to me, "You asked me to comfort and fill you. You needed prayer. And I am your Father and give you all good things. So instead of just holding you close on my own, I am giving you dozens of people to come pray on your behalf." I would say it was too much but really it was just enough. We concluded and I was swarmed with hugs and hand clasps as I tried to not look like a human waterfall.
At the end of the session, they had a surprise concert by The Digital Age. If you're like me that may not ring a bell. But it's David Crowder Band minus David Crowder. They were amazing. The first song they sand was one called "Undignified." I used to hear this song in high school often but hadn't heard it in a long time. And somehow it felt like that song was one final confirmation just to rest. To go back to the firsts of the days when I understood what it meant to rest in him even when everything was muddy. And I praised. OH I PRAISED. And I didn't care if I looked like the crazy girl. I am the crazy girl.
There were so many good things at that conference but few things compare to God answering your prayers in an almost audible way.
If you are struggling with something in your mind that you know is not Truth, would you please pray and command God to take it? I am praying for you right now. Evil only has the power we give it. We know who wins. Let's let him win in our lives as well. We have lots of tools in this life but few as powerful and action-filled as prayer. We don't think of prayer as action sometimes. But it is. Such a powerful action to surrender and ask our God, our Father, to act on our behalf.
Thanks for being the fellow young and old standing next to me. We need each other to fight this battle, no matter what our battle looks like. I am praying for your battle today. We are more than conquerers in Christ Jesus.