BSSM 1.7 - PEACE
April 16, 2020
“What great adventure ever plays out just the way you planned?”
- For King & Country, “Wholehearted”
Well then. Life, am I right? Turns out it can get interesting real fast.
Back on the 10th, I fully anticipated my blog post about March to be filled with stories of my missions trip to Netherlands. Of people being healed on the streets, of churches being encouraged, challenged, and filled through the team’s ministry, of people coming to encounter the love of God for the first time, and being undeniably changed by it. Of the stretching and growing in my life that such a trip would naturally provide.
I expected to look back with joy on the adventure of travel, and the newly developed friendships that had formed in the 12-day trip to Europe, my first visit to the continent.
But then, of course, March 11th happened.
On March 11th, on a little over a month ago, BSSM leadership announced that all of its mission trips were cancelled. Not postponed, not re-routed. CANCELLED. For the first time in the 20-year history of BSSM, no student was doing any sort of travel to practically give out all they had been given throughout the course of the school year.
At the time, it was honestly a bit of a shock. Looking back, it seems like a laughably easy decision because of what the state of the world has now become, but at the time, COVID-19 didn’t seem like that big of a deal. Of course, I had heard of it, but it really seemed to only be impacting a few far-off countries. Surely it wouldn’t end up having much of an impact on me, right?
As you’d guess, the mission trip was just the first wave of changes that COVID-19 has brought to my life.
The next change was that school would look different. It went from small groups, to smaller groups, to online-only. Church moved from a thousand people in a room, to a house church with 25 of my revival group, to online-only. Outreach moved from missions overseas, to connecting with neighbours, to, you guessed it, trying to figure how to do something impactful online.
I can honestly say that my emotional state stayed pretty stable for the first few changes. When the mission trip was cancelled, I was sad, but quickly found comfort in the thought that I should be able to at least one trip (and hopefully more) during second year.
“What’s that? Second year, you say?”
Oh. Right. Yeah. Umm… Guess I should talk about that for a moment here.
Yes, friends. In case you had yet to hear, I am officially going back to Redding California for a second year at Bethel’s School of Supernatural Ministry. I am still going to be in Canada over the summer (hopefully somehow making boatloads of money; open to suggestions as well as donations), but then I will again load my Mini Cooper to the brim (or perhaps slightly over), and subject it to the 4600 kilometer trek back to Redding for year two.
My first year at BSSM has been amazing, challenging, healing, encouraging, and fulfilling. It’s also been different from what I expected, even before the chaos that COVID-19 ushered in. And I am fully confident second year will only get better.
And I’m hopeful that sometime during second year I’ll board a plane bound for Netherlands. From what I hear, second year in general has more opportunities for ministry travel, so it sounds like my general thirst for travel should be well satiated.
Anyways. That’s my spiel about me going to second year, and a long way of saying that a cancelled mission trip was certainly saddening, but not heart-breaking. I got over it pretty quickly. Not only did I have the hope for a trip to my motherland next year, I was also aware that God wasn’t surprised; He had always known this was going to happen, and was already planning to take advantage of it, as He always does. I started praying into the idea that our cancelled mission trips would cause the churches we would’ve ministered to to rise up themselves and start ministering to their cities instead of potentially becoming reliant on this yearly injection of fiery Bethel students.
And I actually started getting excited about what the church would look like going through this crisis. I reasoned that the restrictions on large gatherings would force churches to move to an Acts-like church model with house churches, splitting up large congregations to meet in smaller groups in homes. I figured such a move would likely be healthy for the global church, at least for a short season, as new people would be pushed into leading worship or sharing messages, and as a result new gifts and callings would be discovered. Hidden gems would be uncovered. Relationships would grow deeper as people were forced to connect with a smaller group.
And I hoped that the restrictions would allow the unshaken hope and joy of Christians to stand out even more, causing those around them to ask questions leading to Christ. I hoped that believers would reach out to their neighbours, and new opportunities for loving evangelism would naturally result.
I felt hope. I felt joy. I felt peace.
And then, the restrictions got tighter.
That’s where I started to lose peace.
I’d wake up, assemble my devotional materials (coffee, Bible, notebook, slippers, etc.), sit down, and start reminding God that all of my excellent plans for building the Kingdom during the COVID-19 crisis weren’t exactly playing out.
It wasn’t that I was scared of catching the virus. It wasn’t even, really, that I was frustrated by the restrictions themselves.
It’s just that I thought I knew what God was up to. I thought I knew how to partner with Him. I thought I knew how to help Him take advantage of the situation and see some real good come from it. I thought I understood the ways in which the global church would benefit, and how Christians would be encouraged and challenged to connect more with those around them who weren’t in the church community.
And then, suddenly, none of those things seemed possible, at least not how I had envisioned. There would be no house churches. There would be no hanging out with neighbours. All my grand ideas for what the church could look like during the pandemic evaporated.
And so, for a few days in a row, I found myself starting my mornings with Jesus with a good ol’ Psalms-style venting session. And, with His predictable patience, He let me vent. He allowed me to get all my frustrations out, even if it was the same sort of frustration I had processed through only a single day before.
And then, like the Good Shepherd He is, He started leading me.
First, I found Him leading me into simple worship. Not because I understood anything any better. Not even because I was any less frustrated. On the contrary, I felt Him leading me into worship right in the midst of all the questions and confusion. In the midst of me not knowing how to act or what to feel or how to respond, I felt Him guiding me to take all of that stuff, all those things on my mind, and carry all of them to Him in worship. To shove them all at His feet and dance around in the darkness of an otherwise-lonely morning in the downstairs of my house. This was an opportunity to engage in worship when it didn’t make sense, when I didn’t understand.
But as I followed His leading I was reminded, again, that worship doesn’t require any measure of understanding beyond the fact that He is worthy. That alone is more than enough fuel to worship Him forever. So I chose to make that the sole foundation for my worship, and refuse to let my mind’s wonderings constrain me.
That process of simply aligning my life and reminding myself of Who is on the throne brought some measure of peace all on its own. But then I felt Him lean in again, and ask a question:
“Am I enough?”
Now, I don’t think God was saying any of my ruined ideas for what this season could've been were bad or wrong. I don’t think He was saying my heart attitude was broken. I think He was simply poking at this thing inside of me that was agitated because I felt for some reason like I really should be helping God but just couldn’t figure out how. It seemed He was inviting me to put all of those thoughts away, and choose to be utterly satisfied and content in Him alone.
I believe God wants Christians to be concerned for the eternal state of the people around us. I think believers should be Kingdom-minded, continually wondering how we can best bring heaven to earth.
But in this moment I felt God leading me to put all of that aside, as good as it is, and force myself to let Him, all on His own, be enough. To push the reset button and decide that even if I never start a global Kingdom movement, never write a best-selling book, never tour the world playing worship music, never plant a church, serve at a church, or see even a single soul saved…
Christ is still enough. He alone is enough. As simple as it is, the concept is incredibly powerful.
Revelatory. Eternity-shifting. Mind-transforming. Soul-healing. And yet, so very simple.
God is enough.
When plans — good ones — disintegrate in my hands. When the church looks incredibly different from how it’s ever looked before in its 2,000 year history. When the best part of my ministry school — the people — become faces on a screen. When grocery stores lay down strips of tape six feet apart and the Walmart loudspeaker reminding shoppers to remain socially distant can be heard anytime I open a window.
When the economy essentially grinds to a halt. When it feels like even the Kingdom slows its advance.
He alone is enough. Even if I never get to do any of the things it feels like He’s called me to, He’s still enough. My own personal relationship with Him is enough. And that is where my Peace lies.
I’m still not entirely certain what this season is “supposed” to be for myself, Bethel, Redding, Cornwall, or the global church. I don't know how long this upside-down world will last. I don't know what the church or the world will look like coming out of it. I don’t know if it’s better for me to shut myself in my room with a Bible for a few hours or do a social media livestream sharing my story with Jesus. I don’t even really know what’s going on with the day-to-day of the COVID-19 news most of the time.
There’s a lot I still don’t know about this season or my role in it. But I do know that God is enough.
And He's all the Peace I need.