So, this will probably be my last blog post from within Guatemala and in a way i feel i have come full circle back to the place i need to be in on this good Friday. Back to the place of laying it all down, of placing my hopes and dreams on the cross with Jesus, of laying my tired heart and body on his and allowing him to fill me.
I’m tired..no, actually i’m exhausted. Not long after 24-7 prayer and Stacey’s visit i began to experience a long list of problems with my digestive system and lower region. It has been going on for over 2 months now.. often not being able to do anything other than just lie down or sleep. The doctor doesn’t really know what the problem is and i have been on over 4 different courses of antibiotics in the last 2 months..each one leading me to feel progressively worse. It means that i have not been able to do a lot of the things i was hoping to do in my last few months here. I have been unable to set up a 24-7 prayer room in the El Castillo homes and all of the walls of the church i go to remain unpainted.
However i truly believe we have a God who loves to use us in our weakness..he is a God who tells me that “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” It has definitely not been an easy lesson to learn this year after infections in my gum, dental surgery, these stomach problems, conjunctivitis that doesn’t seem to want to leave and then having my bank card cloned and money stolen from my account. At times i have felt totally battered by my health and circumstances but in the midst of it all i have met with with the creator of the universe, my daddy who whispers to me to just trust him, seek him, hold onto him and today, like yesterday i choose to trust him. In the midst of all my weakness he has been working and moving and using me in so many ways. A month or so ago i was fortunate to meet up with a team from the Bethel ministry school from Chicago. Their leader Michaela had read my blog and facebook stalked me (which i am very grateful for!) and asked if i wanted to meet up with them because they would love to pray and prophecy over me. So i met up with them in Antigua, we went into a local hospital and prayed with girls with physical disabilities and then they spent some time praying for me. It was such a divine encounter that reminded me just how much God loves me and wants to restore me completely! After my time with the team i felt led to take Isra (the leader of the youth group) and Emy his sister to visit the team at the YWAM base where they were staying..they spent time praying and prophesying over the both of them, an experience totally new to both Isra and Emy but God was speaking to both of them.
After this i was invited to preach for two weeks running at the youth group and i felt like i should speak on how we hear the voice of God. One week was on the theme of ‘how can we hear God speak to us’ and the second one was looking at ‘how God wants to speak to others through us’ looking mainly at prophecy. I was aware from my friends in the youth that these were quite tricky and new subjects for a lot of churches and that a lot of churches here in Guatemala had a reputation of misusing prophecy. I love my church and the hearts of the young people i have met here but sometimes have struggled with the lack of emphasis on the Holy Spirit and ministry times. I can completely understand the reasons why they question it and that they don’t want to be associated with churches who misuse the gifts of the Spirit but i really felt that it was time to give some biblical teaching on the theme and to encourage them to be open to what God wanted to do and say. Both times, before i was due to preach, i was suffering from bad health problems. The day before my first talk i had felt so much better (in my stomach) and then that night i only had 3 hours sleep because i came down with painful conjunctivitis in my right eye. I felt like i was in a battle which made me even more determined to say what i felt was on God’s heart. Both times people responded and i had the privilege of praying with specific people afterwards. As part of my second talk i had really wanted to give the opportunity for people to practice hearing God’s voice for others but it was felt that the youth weren’t ready for it..however God had other ideas.
Just a few photos from my last youth group and last worship group meeting
I have just come back from a 5 day camp with GEU (it is like the UCCF..University Christian Fellowship of Guatemala) and around 14 of our church youth went along too. I was on my 4th course of antibiotics and spent a lot of time bed ridden with nausea and stomach problems but once again in the midst of my weakness God was on the move. A speaker had been invited from the states, called Andrés, to lead 2 workshops on prayer. I immediately enrolled to be a part of his sessions and was thrilled to see that a number of our church youth had signed up too. Everything he spoke on was a confirmation on what i had said at the youth group and at dinner after the first session i suggested to a few of the youth that we use our free time to practice hearing from God. For some of us that may not seem like anything big but for a lot of these guys it was a totally new concept and i was excited and a bit nervous to see what would happen. 6 of us met together in a back room and i tried my best to lead 30 mins of worship in Spanish and then we began to listen. One of the girls was reminded of the story of how Jesus washed the disciples feet and i felt like we should pray for each person in turn, listen to God for them and wash their feet. It was a powerful time. God was moving, his presence was with us. Many were moved to tears as other members of the group spoke God’s heart over them and washed their feet! It was great! I was at home!
The next morning same thing…i was bed ridden with nausea but made myself get up for lunch and for our free time prayer session! Everyone was tired and so we started off with just 3 of us, then another came and also a guy who hadn’t been the day before. We worshipped, we listened to God’s heart and we spoke it over each other and washed each other’s feet. Once again God’s spirit filled the room and filled our hearts. I then arrived at the prayer workshop to find we were going to do it all again! around 6 hours in total!! I went to bed truly exhausted but knowing that there is a God who uses us in our weakness! Seeds are being planted and heart’s are being opened!
On my last day of camp, two of the youth took me aside and began to pray and prophesy over me.. all things that i believed were on God’s heart and afterwards i found myself on my knees, alone, crying and bargaining with God. I was totally and completely exhausted, still in pain and overwhelmed. I found trying to make a deal with God. I would do all that he wanted me to do. Follow him anywhere IF…1. He healed me and 2. IF he could send me a husband to do it with and so…. today….
Well today i come back full circle…To Good Friday. To a God who gave up everything for me, who gave up his power and came to earth to lay his life down. No IFs…No BUTs.. Im still tired and i am still believing for the desires of my heart (for his healing and his promises) but today once again (like so many months ago) i became like the pregnant woman hanging herself on the cross (see Blog update from November 15, 2009). Laying down my if’s and saying ok God i will go..however i am.. in weakness or in strength, in health or in sickness, Single or married i choose to trust you and i choose to follow you for i know that you delight to be my strength in my weakness and he is enough, he is worth it.
‘Find rest O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, i shall not be shaken. My salvation and my honour depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge’ (Psalm 62: 5-8)
So today, on Good Friday i urge you too to search your heart. What are the IFs and BUTs you are carrying in your heart? Maybe today, on the day where we remember how Jesus gave up everything for us on the cross. Maybe today we choose to echo his prayer and say ‘not our will but yours be done’.
I leave Guatemala on Tuesday and arrive back on Wednesday! I am so sad to be leaving my family here but also excited to se what God wants to do next.. please pray..
Thanking God for my time here, for all that he has shown me and been doing in me!
Pray for seeds that have been planted that God would cause them to grow!
Thanking God for the wonderful friends that he has given me here in Guatemala and that he will continue to bless them and grow them in him!
Pray for a complete healing of my stomach and inner health problems (i have a quick turn around in England..just one week before flying to America for a month for my brother’s wedding and things so i would love to be well)
Pray for my flight home (i leave on Tuesday and arrive back in the UK on Wednesday) for safe passage and seamless changeovers!
Pray for us to grow in God, to get deeper into his heart, to listen to his voice and to follow him with all we are.
Hopefully see some of you very soon (and i will try and write another blog asap! to fill you in on my plans and about more of my last few weeks here! So be expectant! )