DTS: Living on Many Prayers

Now that we’re at the halfway point of lecture phase, it seems appropriate to reference Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” in the title. Rather than one prayer, though, I’m living on many: prayers from California, prayers from Indiana, prayers from the classroom, the dorm rooms, the prayer room here at Holmsted.

Some of those are my prayers. A few days ago, I spent an hour and a half in the musty chairs of the concrete-yet-comfortable prayer room downstairs crying out to God … and listening.

For me, this halfway point is a time of introspection and evaluation. Am I putting as much into this DTS as I can, or am I spending too much time visiting the surrounding towns and cities, posting pictures online, watching movies? Even though I have worship almost every day, along with three hours of lectures and other small groups and scheduled activities, I don’t want to act like I’m on holiday the rest of the time. I came for God, not for Brighton or London, movies or shows, audio or video.

And yet, while spending personal time with God is unquestionably vital, so is living in community … and not only living in community, but fully engaging in that community. Wednesday was a perfect example of a day that was joy-filled largely because of the people here. I prayed in a small group for an hour in the morning, practiced Chinese in the afternoon with a couple others, talked about spiritual struggles with one of my roommates while washing the dinner dishes, and, finally, ended the day huddled around a laptop with a few of the girls watching a couple episodes of the Pride and Prejudice miniseries. And I’m not even counting the many conversations I had apart from these larger events.

But as wonderful as it is to continually spend time with people I feel comfortable with, and even more so to discuss matters of the heart and the Spirit with them, I can’t live on people alone.

I need time to process (a buzzword around here) what we’ve been learning in lectures. I need to rest without turning my brain off. I need to listen and obey. I need to think and feel and speak.

Last week was Relationships & Identity Week, the most challenging, intense week yet. Normally, we have about 15 hours of lectures in five days. That week, we had about 18 hours of lectures in four days, and then an additional 13 hours on Friday. Friday, however, wasn’t a day of lectures, but of “approaching the altar.” I can’t say any more without describing the whole thing, and I can’t do the whole thing justice right now, so I won’t try yet. But you will hear about it sometime soon, and about the rest of that week.

This week, we learned about how the Bible relates to all spheres of society, not just the church, and how the split thinking many of us have grown up with (Christian vs. secular) isn’t in keeping with the character of God. We’ve been analyzing passages from the Pentateuch, and it has been a rich experience of seeing God in new ways, with specific examples. It makes me want to do an SBS (School of Biblical Studies) with YWAM …

So that is a brief summary of the last two weeks, but my point in that summary is that there are so many things to take in, so many verses to look up, so many things to dive deeper into on my own time. Obviously, I can’t research everything I want to research right now. However, I want to take the lectures further out of the classroom than I have so far. It’s not too late – I still have five weeks left! God is doing so much here, and I don’t want to miss any of it.

One of the biggest frustrations of my life has been not doing “the good I want to do” (Romans 7:19). That doesn’t have to be my story any longer, though. The page is about to turn, and any number of plot twists could be waiting on the other side.

DTS: Pictures of God

I wrote this during a special “make something for God” worship session here at Holmsted, then shared it with the group…

Sometimes, when I’m trying to worship but feel flooded with distractions, I close my eyes and try to focus on a picture of You in my mind. Until now, that picture has been of You seated on a throne, reflecting glory, and me, standing at the other end of the long room, looking at You from a distance.

I didn’t realize until yesterday how impersonal that picture was. Maybe sometimes in that picture, I’ve ventured closer to You, moving down the velvet-carpeted aisle along with other worshippers, but I don’t remember You ever leaving Your throne and coming to me. But that is what You do, isn’t it?

Certainly many songs describe Your glory and majesty and radiance, all if which are inseparable from who You are. But You also reach out to me. You understand where I’m coming from, and Your throne is a throne of love as well as glory.

I’m still working through what the new “picture” in my mind should look like. Maybe of You, as a shepherd in a field. Maybe of You taking my hand. Or maybe I shouldn’t limit myself to one picture, one image, one view.

You are there and yet here. You are king and yet You serve. You are mightiest and yet You love the most. You are all.