It is mesmerizing to me the conversations I get into and the powerful trust that is formed over just five days with those that are traveling to this intense place of extremes.
It is not uncommon for those conversations to become electric with the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit. Walls are down, words are genuine and the common thread of radical love for Jesus is binding. Although I’ve had just as many of these moments when visitors are struggling with unbelief and pain, and don’t know what to do with the emotions they are having here. Sometimes visitors even find that the person they allow themselves to be in this place is who they are meant to be, and struggle with going back to their ‘real’ life and finding a new normal to honor who God has created them to be. What God does here changes people…transforms them closer to the Kingdom walker God needs them to be, if they are willing to let God be God.
When we dig deep into a conversation, our voices change and the cadence of our story draws others into The Story. When I hear someone’s voice take on that other worldly tone…I know that God is doing something incredible among us. Sometimes, we don’t even know we are heading into this unknown territory and simply find ourselves in the midst of the Spirit without knowing we were going there.
This happened the other night when a small group of us ended up in my front room. Stories were shared that are rarely spoken out loud. Tissue boxes were brought out. Scripture was woven through from start to finish. Deep wounds were laid open for others to learn from. God was so intensely present among us.
“I would not be who I am if I hadn’t endured what I had. You just have to endure it,” explained my friend after sharing her story.
Endure conjures up a lot of memories for many. The struggle and pushing through to the other side ends up defining who we are in some pretty spectacular ways if we let it…others get suffocated by the act of enduring. Some get paralyzed by enduring. So many moments and so many choices, this path or that one?
As we endure the things of this world that come at us, we are given unique opportunities to choose. Will we be paralyzed by those events? Or will we stand strong and allow God to work through those events?
In stories that were shared the other night, I don’t think I would have been strong enough to stand…though sometimes I surprised myself. What I am confident in is that the people placed around us support us, sometimes hold us up and are absolutely present for just that moment to help us endure. It has to be together, bound within the Holy Spirit to guide us into a new normal. Telling the things that threaten o suffocate that you are not willing to be that weak, and screaming at the evil things of this world to back off.
“We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.” [Colossians 1:9]
We walk in victory of the One who wins. We give ourselves to the One who endured the most. And along the way, we get to sit in community with others who know a small piece of that endurance.