Last night, God met me where I was.
So much has happened in the last week and I haven’t had a chance to catch my breath, so I haven’t written the third part of my “Authentic Love” series yet. God has been saying so much, so fast, that I’m afraid I haven’t had the chance to clear it up yet. He’s covered me in so much love and no words are there to explain it. So I’m waiting until I know what exactly God has said and how I am applying it to my life before I write about it.
But, last night God spoke to me so clearly about the questions I have that I simply had to share it, even if I haven’t fully worked out what it means exactly.
My good friend Lauren (who’s amazing blog you can find here) connected me with a small group through a church I have been checking out and praying about attending. She very sweetly told everyone in the small group about me, and when I walked in at 7 last night, I felt so immediately loved and wanted. The other students and young adults knew my name and asked me about myself and I felt right at home. One girl even greeted me with a big hug and I couldn’t stop smiling all night.
That specific sense of love and acceptance is something I had been praying God for, especially within a body of believers. In the church I am attending currently, I haven’t felt that sense of community at all. In fact, I realized that I didn’t know anyone at that church and had been attending for a good three months now. I was spiritually starved for companionship, for someone to recognize me and be genuinely happy to see me, especially in church. I wanted love and friendship and I prayed that I would find it in this small group.
And I did.
The small group began with a game, then moved into what they called “Three by Three” which means three praise reports and three prayer requests. I listened and clapped when people spoke of how God was moving in their lives. I remember feeling so incredibly happy to find others who were as hungry for God and as alert to His ever-presence in our lives as me. I asked for prayer over my life as I struggle to understand where God wants me to go, especially since He has closed a few doors and left me a little disoriented. The leader, Brett, prayed over me for guidance and patience and favor.
Then Brett asked for prayer because he felt sick. I didn’t expect him to do this, but he stood up in the middle of the room and asked us to lay hands on him and pray for healing. I got so excited because this type of prayer, this specific laying-on-of-hands is something I grew up around. I firmly believe in the power of healing and have seen that prayer answered hundreds of times, so I immediately got up and joined everyone else as we prayed for him aloud, believing for a miracle. The prayer ended.
We all sat down and Brett said, “I legitimately feel better guys. I’m not kidding.” He smiled really wide as we all clapped and praised God for this small miracle. Then another guy named Daniel asked for prayer over finding a place to live for the summer and for a job. We did the same with him: placed him in the center of one large prayer group and believed for God’s will to be done.
After that, Brett talked about spiritual gifts, specifically the gift of tongues. We all read scripture (1 Cor. 12:4,7 & Psalm 145:2-8) and Brett explained that the purpose of spiritual gifts is for the common good, to bless and encourage each other in our walk with God. He said there were three types of speaking in tongues seen in the Bible.
1. Proclaiming the truth in another language, seen in Acts 2.
2. An intimate connection between an individual and God, found in 1 Cor. 14:2-4.
3. Communicating truth to a body of believers with an interpreter, explained by Paul in 1 Cor. 14:26-28.
Here, Brett opened the floor for any questions or comments on the spiritual gift of tongues. A girl named Leah asked if anyone had any experience with tongues or spoke in tongues, and I gingerly raised my hand. In past experience, though I am certainly not ashamed of the gift of tongues that God has given me, I am usually alone in my admittance of possessing the gift. The last time someone asked me about it, I got weird looks of disbelief or even disapproval, and because no one has ever interpreted my tongues, I keep them to myself as a personal prayer language between me and God, which is also difficult to explain. I wasn’t necessarily surprised when I was the first and only person to raise my hand, but it did feel a little uncomfortable, especially when Leah seemed perplexed.
“Really?” she said.
I explained myself, “Yes, I have the spiritual gift of tongues, but it is more of the second one. It comes out when I don’t know what to say, or when I can’t find the words to express myself to God. That is usually when I am extremely sad or outrageously happy and I just can’t convey it in words, so I speak in tongues and I know God understands me and I feel at peace.”
I saw a few nods and then Daniel spoke up, “Yeah, it’s kind of hard to explain. I asked God for the gift when I was younger and yeah, it only comes out when I don’t know what to say to God.”
“It’s actually kind of funny that we are talking about this tonight,” Brett added, “Because I was feeling super sick today and I was lying on my bed and I was frustrated because I had so much to do today but I couldn’t do them because I was sick. So I was trying to pray, but I couldn’t. Then these phrases that were not English words kept popping into my head, so I thought maybe God wants me to speak in tongues. So I did. I said the phrases over and over and peace just washed over me and I started to feel better.” More smiles and nods came from the group as the discussion continued.
At this point, my heart was literally bursting with joy at how comfortable and at home I felt there in that small group, openly talking about the spiritual gift of tongues, something very, very few people at SPU are comfortable conversing. After a few more comments about how it didn’t make sense sometimes, but God is good anyway, we moved into a time of worship. The songs played from an iPhone connected to a large speaker, so loud that I couldn’t hear anyone else and could just focus on God.
Two or three songs play and I’m there worshiping, thanking God for the wonderful time I was having, when someone touched my arm. I opened my eyes to find Lynette, the other small group leader, standing by me and telling me she had a word from God for me. Lauren had told me of all the different times that God has given words to others for her and that this was a normal occurrence in this church, so I became really excited to hear what she had to say. I listened as she told me exactly what I needed to hear and ended up sobbing before she had finished.
She said, “From what God has been telling me about you, you remind me of the little boy I nanny (or babysit). Any time I tell him we are about to leave to go to the zoo or the park or just out the door, he immediately grabs his shoes. He is very young so I don’t know how he knows to first grab his shoes, but he does. Kayley, you have your shoes on, laced up, and ready to go. The moment God told you He had plans for you, you were ready. You are so hungry for God and so ready to do what He asks of you. You still are ready, and you don’t have to worry about where you are going, because God is going to take you there. He wants you to know that you guys are about to leave and He’s going to pull you out the door with Him, so just stay ready. Keep your shoes on.”
As I said, I was crying before she finished and couldn’t stop even as I tried to continue in worship. I couldn’t say anything, I was just so overwhelmed with joy and love and awe. My prayer has been one of “what is going on, God? You said You had plans for me, right?” So to hear directly from Him to keep my shoes on, we are leaving soon, and stay ready was the greatest blessing I could have received at that moment. God knew my heart, met me where I was, and gave me encouragement and love and joy and peace.
And I couldn’t even manage a thank you, so I spoke in tongues until all I could do was sit in His presence and be utterly and completely happy. I left that night feeling overjoyed and hopeful for the weeks, months, and years to come as I learn about God surrounded by those who love Him too.
Father, You are good. It’s who you are. It’s who you are.
Father, I am loved. It’s who I am. It’s who I am.