I've been back from Bethel for almost a week now. My life really has changed from soaking up the atmosphere there. Three people in the space of a few hours yesterday said that I actually look physically different! I feel so encouraged by that. It just confirms for me what I feel on the inside - changed by God.
How do I feel different? It's difficult to put into words, but in a nutshell I feel so much more in love with God as my Papa, with Jesus and with the Holy Spirit. I feel like my perspective of God has completely changed and that I know His love in a deeper place than I knew it before I went. I went for a walk along the river with Jesus this morning and I felt that He was playing hide and seek with me! I feel so much more intimate with Him now - He has answered the longing of my heart and I know there is still so much more!
I wanted to take some time to write about some of the things I feel like I picked up from Bethel and have brought back with me to Bedford. I'm sure there is more God did that I'm not even aware of yet, but these things will do for starters:
1) Worship is key - God spoke to me during a worship session about my relationship with Him being all about love. Him loving me, me loving Him and then me loving other people. Love is the fuel that spreads the fire of God. Love is the fuel that attracts God's presence. It's all about love and worship is all about love. Worship is the main place where we get to express our love to God. It can't be an add on to our lives because that's what Christians do. It's got to be time where we fully engage with the one who is totally worthy of everything - the one who is head over heels in love with us and who we're head over heels in love with. And it can't be a quick fix. We must learn to linger for longer. I used to get really distracted when I worshipped. I'm expecting it to be different now!
2) Expect God's Kindness - I talked about this in my last post, but it's been such a profound revelation for me that I want to talk about it again here. Before I went to Bethel I thought I believed that God was good. I didn't! Something has shifted in my thinking and deep in my gut that convinces me that God is ridiculously good; that He's incredibly kind and that because of that His favour rests on me. Even this evening He's been so kind to me. I've borrowed a projector for a youth day away we're running tomorrow, but for some reason it came without a power lead. God gave me the idea of heading to the church offices to find the right kind of lead, which I did and the lead was duly found! He's always working for my good!
During the 3 worship sessions I attended while at Bethel we didn't once sing a classic 'up-beat celebratory jumpy song'. Since I've been back I've reflected on that. We generally always sing songs like that at the beginning of our worship at church - why didn't they, and yet the presence of God was so tangible and the worship so intimate. My theory (rightly or wrongly) is this; people at Bethel know that God is good and they live in that reality. They don't have to try and stir this belief up in themselves by singing celebratory songs at the beginning of a worship set because it's just part of who they are. For some reason this truth hasn't got hold of us so deeply so we have to remind ourselves of God's goodness through celebration at the beginning of our worship times. Don't hear what I'm not saying; I think it's important that we celebrate God - I also think that we need a much greater revelation of how lavish His kindness is (It's really lavish!!)