I’m currently running sound for Burn 24–7 a 24 hour worship event hosted monthly by different churches around Redding. It’s the first time I’ve got to mix since coming stateside and I think out of the 24 hours I’ll end up mixing for 12 of that so a big dive right back into the thick of mixing. It feels good, it feels like home; there is honestly no place where worshipping comes easier than behind a sound desk, it’s just an honor to see G-d enjoy the presence of kids as they give back to him.
I’m going to be doing my best to try and keep these updates more regular so they don’t transform into to 10–15 minute mammoths. So picking up where I left off with retreat, I got home all congested and ended up with the flu for the best part of a week. The first Monday back I was supposed to be at RG for 9:30 and when I initially woke up I felt like death warmed up so I just rolled over, said to myself “I’m not going to class today” and passed out. I then woke up maybe around 9:30 feeling a lot more human, so I jumped in the shower and headed for RG even though by this rate I was going to be at least 70 minutes late. I got up there (my RG is in another Bethel campus at the top of a hill) and could hardly walk. I got into our room and stood in the corner while I tried to figure out what was happening, my best guess was 1 person would call another out and encourage them in front of everyone else. Which turns out was exactly what was happening as I was trying to do my best impression of a shadow holding the wall up, Jared called me to the middle of the room. There is something powerful in being called out like that and encouraged for who you are when you literally feel like death warmed up. I don’t remember much of what Jared actually said right now but thinking back all I rememberer is the overwhelming sense of love that flowed through him and the rest of the room while they agreed with him.
Love has definitely been G-d’s focal point these past 2 weeks since retreat, we had a book report due for “Experiencing the Father’s Embrace” which takes you on a journey to a deeper understanding of the love that Abba G-d has for us and actually experiencing that and doing life from that knowledge. I found myself avoiding the book, I’d heard from some 2nd years that it was life changing and sometimes a challenging read so I think I read around the first 2 chapters for a week leaving me with 4 days to read the rest.
Experiencing this aspect of G -d has been a bit of a sticking point and part of the reason behind my deconstruction, I don’t normally share this much detail with all of you but, I figure you’re choosing to spend your time reading what I have to say so I should be honest with you.
When my Mum passed away from cancer when I was 10, I shut down emotionally, the only feeling I remember from that day was having an upset stomach, which is actually the only reason I managed to spend most of the day at the hospice with my Mum and as best as my memory serves I was the last person she spoke to. Because of this I carried shame that was never mine to carry for years. That day, without it being asked of me, I grew up, became the strong man for my Dad, brother and sister, and I did my best to make sure that everything I portrayed was perfect, would make my Dad happy and appear to be the best Ben possible. This made me great at hiding the ugly parts of me and made the love of god something I needed to earn through service and good deeds to make up for my mess.
So G-d has been on my case about not having to earn his love and he’s been tenderizing my heart (I have had a tender ache in my chest everyday since retreat). So when I was reading through the book my internal conversation went a little like this:
Me: I expected myself to be more emotional reading this…
G-d: I’m doing things deeper than your emotions.
ME: Oh.. thanks I guess.
G-d: I will always be gentle.
I got the report finished and I did feel something shifting in me but I think G-d was just setting me up for class this week. Even though I’m in worship daily and surrounded by wonderful family I’ve felt more hopeless and depressed than I have in a long time. I’m having to challenge myself to get out of bed and make it to class on time. In class this week we had 2 sessions of encountering Abba’s embrace, it was oh so sweet. G-d meet me in all his tenderness and love, and started to pull hurt out of my heart, it was painful and all I could do was groan through the pain. During the second day of this I was feeling particularly over all of this heart work G-d was doing and was abut to head to the restroom just to waste some time and I felt G-d poke at something in my heart and I felt the familiar pain of what G-d has been doing the past week:
G-d: How about we deal with this?
Me: Do we have to?
G-d (with a smirk): Only if you want free.
Man that hurt, but I do feel so much more free to experience and give out love.
This week in school we had a number of speakers cancelled and moved around so on Thursday all we did was worship for over 2 hours. It was oh so sweet, but I was feeling like I’d had my fill of G-d this week, so I wasn’t fully engaging and just checking out. G-d started to speak to me and reminded me of why shepherds anoint their sheep with oil, it helps the sheep avoid infections and always helps when they get stuck in bushes among other things. He then showed me my heart and he started to rub oil over it and I felt it really begin to sooth the ache I’ve become accustomed to. one of the girls in my RG came over and said G-d had more for me and he was overflowing oil in me, I still find it humorous when he chooses to confirm the things he speaks to me through my RG family.
Amongst all of this I’ve noticed G-d speaking and encountering me in old ways that I haven’t seen in years, the first I noticed was the feeling of goosebumps all over without physical bumps over my skin. When I was a teenager this was how I first would “feel” the presence of G-d.
I also found out what mission trip I’m going on this April, I’m getting to travel up and down California in a bus ministering in colleges throughout the state. If I’m honest I just put it down to obedient, when I initially selected it I was like no I’m going to New Zealand I just need to fill out the other 6 of 7 choices. But as I wrote down my reasons for each choice, reorganized and reselected choices, this trip slowly moved up to maybe my 3rd choice, behind New Zealand and Ireland. But I still didn’t think it was going to happen. This trip still costs money, less than the international ones but still costs $1300 and I will have to fundraise. G-d has been telling me to stop working about money which is hard because even though I have paid off my tuition in full, I still have enough money to get me through to at least January but after that I have no plan. There is the money I’m owed from the liquidation of one of my former clients and if I got everything I’m owed it would probably pay for me to do 2nd year as well as pay for my expenses and mission trip this year, but that isn’t something I can count on, so all I have is to trust G-d and maybe apply for the green card lottery.
I’m looking into maybe designing up some t-shirts/merch that you could buy so you get something out of sponsoring my trip, they’ll be black of course I’m just figuring out designs and how to sell/ship them.
If I never made it clear I welcome your questions, I’m writing this in part to process but also to cultivate conversation with all yous who read this.
Through Grace & Caffeine,