I was recently recounting to a sweet new friend that almost every summer for the past 8 years has marked a move of God in my life. There is always a turning point. Without fail, it's a time of maturing for me. It's interesting how that parallels with creation. Plants come to full maturity each summer before dropping their fruit and leaves in autumn. In the same way, I've come to be expectant of fruit in the summer seasons. Bringing forth fruit is not always the easiest process. Often there has been much painful pruning involved. But each time I find myself transformed - and I know it's worth it. I want to share some of the stories of Gods faithfulness through these seasons...
The summer of 2006 was the first after we transitioned into house churches. We were high on newly discovered relationship - with God and each other. Someone got wind of Andrew Strom's "Personal Revival" message and it spread among us. In our group of friends the wave of personal revival began with Jordan. She had a life-changing revelation of the holiness of God. It soon spread to Lauren - whose testimony is still posted to Andrew Strom's website. Finally, God got a hold of me. I was purged of everything I'd ever known about who God is and how to approach Him. He was no longer this puppy dog in the sky who catered to my every whim. I saw Him in the beauty of holiness and He became more real to me than He'd ever been before.
Sadly, at the end of that summer, one of our best friends walked out of our lives. We went from perpetual sleepovers and endless inside jokes, to nothing at all. In all the growing we did that summer, there was much pruning. Pruning that left scars, but there is fruit in us today as a result. We learned a big lesson in obedience through suffering during that season.
My first summer at a full time job was in 2007. I did data-entry and form corrections every day with headphones on, listening to every Leonard Ravenhill sermon available on the internet. The young girls in the bible study we taught grew tired of my quoting him constantly, I'm sure. God lit a "fire in my bones" that summer. Jordan, Lauren and I practically memorized "The Revival Hymn". One night, when we were supposed to go see a movie together, we got into the car, and started talking about it. Before I could even buckle my seat belt tears poured down my face and all I could hear in my mind was this;
"We haven't spent half an hour with Jesus, but we'll stay two stinking hours in a movie house! And Paul says that's what the world is to me; It's a system of corruption and rottenness and vileness. It's anti-Christ from the word go!... Is the world crucified to you tonight? Or does is fascinate you?"When I voiced what was going through my mind, Jordan and Lauren looked at one another and immediately said, "Me too!!" That night became the first of many prayer meetings we had that summer. It was during one of those prayer meetings that God told me to take off my purity ring for good. But that's a story for another time.
In the 2008 the growing and maturing was a lot more practical and tangible. That summer Jordan and I ended up moving out of my parents house together. We lived with a gracious single woman in the church who opened her 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment to us for very low rent. This was a fresh start for us. It held a lot of new challenges that taught us to rely more heavily on the Lord for our needs. He proved Himself faithful, as always.
Relationships were the primary source of change for me in 2009. My relationship to my parents was in the process of being re-defined, despite living apart from them for a year. One of the most profound changes was that our best friend, Lauren, was imminently moving away to college. She was dating Blake. There was a whole new dynamic to our relationships. God dealt with me personally a lot that summer. He put to rest some things that'd haunted me too long.
Last summer followed a spring that we'd spent in intercessory prayer. Beginning in March we met every week to seek God and pray that He would move in our lives and mold us to be more like Him. We prayed fervently for friends who were faltering. We prayed for renewed fire in ourselves. And that summer, God answered. Friends transformed before our eyes. I really believe the Lord mercifully poured out His spirit on us. We sought to hear His voice, and He spoke - through us. None of us had operated in the gifts of the Spirit with any regularity for years. Last summer God taught us to use the gifts again, with words of wisdom, knowledge and prophecy. Church function as laid out in 1 Corinthians 14:22-26 was tangible in our meetings. Peoples hearts were laid bare, causing them to cry out to God. I learned to hear the voice of the Shepherd again, in a completely new way than I'd previously learned it. In years before He had to set my heart racing to get my attention. This time I learned to hear Him in the still, quiet voice, and to act - immediately - on what He was telling me to do or say. He always confirmed what He'd spoken every time I stepped out in faith. And my faith grew by leaps and bounds.
As I've been reflecting on past summers, I'm looking forward to this one. Already a month in, God is moving and shaking so much in me. I feel as though I've been having a crisis of faith - questioning things in myself that I've never questioned before. Why do I believe what I do? Where do my values come from? Are they based on the word of God? What are my convictions, apart from what I've always been associated with?
I admit, as far as my core values and convictions go, not a whole lot has changed. What has changed is that my weak knees are being strengthened. I'm becoming grounded where before I was easily thrown off balance by others opinions of me. I have no idea what the rest of this summer holds, but I know there is a reason I've being firmly planted on the rock of my salvation.