How often do you stop and analyse the various aspects of your life? You know… what is going well, what needs to improve, your ‘tank fillers/drainers’ and so on… For some of us we are CONSTANTLY doing this in our heads, and for others, life seems to be too packed and full-on to stop. A couple of weeks ago, all the Soul61-ers were given one of the teaching days to explore what is known as the ‘whole-life MOT’.
In the same way a car needs to go for regular check-ups, we do too! Not for anyone else to look at or to fit into anyone else’s standards, but to reflect on the areas of our spiritual, inner, relational and physical lives and to ask God to reveal to us the places where He wants us to grow or change. ‘He doesn’t come to rearrange the outside the way we want; He comes to rearrange the inside the way He wants’. Often Christians separate the rest of their life from their ‘devotional’ life when in reality, God wants to be a part of it all – which is why we did this initial check-in with ourselves that will crop up again now and then throughout the year. It was very interesting to do because I could see the areas in which I had made up my mind for myself were ‘going well’ or ‘needed improvement’ but then I also found areas I hadn’t even noticed pop up! Things God told me I was good at or needed changing. I won’t go into details because of the personal nature of the MOT, but this concept of allowing God to reveal things to me about myself that I perhaps hadn’t noticed has become a theme for the past few weeks (hence the title of this week’s blog).
One of these revelations has been my attitude towards serving. I have started my placement now. I’m doing the ‘pastoral placement’ which just means that I follow around a handful of the church leaders and serve at all of the quality events the church put on for the public. On Mondays I serve at a free cafe for vulnerable people (the homeless, mentally disabled, the lonely and those with mental health issues – or anyone else who comes in) where there is some craft, a table tennis table, wifi and computers for them to use and plenty of pastries and hot drinks, followed my a hot meal for lunch! The most ordinary and amazing people come in and it is such a privilege getting to know them. One of the things that has struck me about serving there, is what absolute heroes the volunteers are. They are such a blessing!! Sometimes I think Christians (myself included) probably over-value spiritual gifts such as prophecy and overlook other spiritual gifts like hospitality. This might be because prophecy is mysterious or supernatural whereas hospitality looks very normal. But let me tell you that the hospitality displayed by the volunteer’s overwhelming and loving example led me to pray that God would give me the gift of hospitality as I was serving at the Christmas ball/party yesterday. Oh wow, what a difference! It’s SO supernatural!! I’m always skeptical that it may have been a placebo effect, but boy, was I a joyful giver that evening! I just loved hearing the buzz of the atmosphere and providing people with what they needed. Being able to love people by providing for them – washing their feet the way Jesus did – is actually one of the main things the Bible calls us to do! In the New Testament, 1 in 16 verses are about serving others and providing justice! Oh and plus, the Holy Spirit really knows how to party!
Also as part of my placement, I’ve been able to go to Derby to visit a charity called ‘upbeat‘ that house and support refugees. I got to sit in on a discussion between Tim, one of the Soul Survivor team members, and a member that helps to run the charity, and listen to them give us tips and direction on how Soul Survivor church can help and start their own local sponsorship program where volunteers from the church community can offer a room for a refugee to stay in for a few months. We had lunch and were able to chat (as best we could with the language barriers) with the refugees that were staying there. It was fascinating and I can’t wait to see how I can get stuck in with what Tim has in store.
In other news, my good friend Zac, who busked worship music in public places to raise the course costs, was invited to a Catholic youth event where they wanted to invite the Holy Spirit for the first time. He seized the opportunity and was asked to bring a team of three worship leaders and a team of three to minister to people. He asked me to come along as part of the latter team. It was quite strange, but educational to attend, because Catholics have a slightly different understanding of the scriptures to us, but the same basic beliefs. The night was a normal Youth Alpha event but it had been edited and adapted to the Catholic belief system. It was quite sad at times because I heard things like ‘Jesus was a man who obviously isn’t with us anymore…’ from some of the adults leading it and it was clear that some of them had never encountered the Spirit either. Nevertheless, we believe that the Holy Spirit is poured out on all of God’s church, not the anointed few. So this is how the evening went down: Worship with Zac and co, Alpha video, group discussion, Alpha video, worship, ministry time, food and finish.
The Holy Spirit showed up and many people met with Him. The youngest possibly 11yrs old, the oldest – a leader in their 40s. Some were deeply touched and were brought to quiet tears, others experienced a visible wave of peace, and others still; an unexplainable and overwhelming joy. Some understood what was going on and others had no idea. Some people didn’t experience anything and that was okay too. All I know is that God met with them in a very real way. Theory became reality and hopefully they won’t be in a hurry to forget it. God taught me that relationship isn’t dependent on theology and He loves His children. Theology is very important, but it doesn’t mean God loves you any more or any less. We all probably have it wrong somewhere. We left rejoicing and chatting about what we’d seen, only to get a text later to say that they were very happy we agreed to come and are very welcome to return (I just pray that they don’t think their experience of the Spirit is dependent on us being there). Zac has since informed us that there may be further events He has been invited to and wants to take us to. If this is how it feels to be used by God to introduce people to life in the Spirit, then I can’t wait and I never want to stop. All praise and glory to the King!
I am learning very fast the things that really matter in this life, and in this world. Things that last and things that bring true joy. What love really looks like. God is showing me his heart and His compassion wrecks me. How can I ever live the same? God, I trust you. Let me serve you and your people because you first served me and made me alive. Take all the components of my life and let them point to you, Lord.
Until the next M.O.T!