A little over ten years ago, as a seventeen year old kid, I saws of the Kingdom of God and the Body of Christ when I was on a short term missions trip to Mexico. This look was very brief as it was quickly snuffed out when we returned home to our church and the way things were done there.
However, the Kingdom of God is so valuable this brief glimpse was enough to convinced me that the Kingdom was worth everything I am and have. Even as I carried many wounds with me from my childhood, feared God hated me, was four years into my addiction to pornography, and was easily one of the most legalistic, judgmental and powerless religious young people you could meet, I had always felt there was something more to following Jesus and I saw it for the first time.
In my heart I said “I want this for the rest of my life.” Almost immediately God tested my new found desire to follow Him by inviting me to attend a Christian college I had previously never heard about. This would mean letting go of a full-ride scholarship to my first choice college, UC San Diego, and for years in the Marine Corps afterwards.
I did not have much as a 17-year-old kid but I was raised in an upper-middle class home and the standard story for success was, “Do well in school, so you can get into a good college, so you can get a good education and get into a career doing what you want to do. Then get married and raise kids in a stable home so they can do the same.” This was the central way to measure if you had succeeded in life or not. I had worked my whole life towards this goal and years of academic excellence and extracurricular had paid off. Just as the fruits of all these efforts was apparently in my reach, God invited me to give it up to follow Him.
Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” (Matt 13:44) Even in the midst of my festering wounds, my doubts, my addiction, and the religion that dominated my approach to God, the Kingdom of God is indeed this valuable. That brief glimpse was enough to convince me of its worth and I did choose to follow God, giving up everything that I as a 17-year-old kid had.
Ten years later, I am more convinced than ever that the Kingdom of God is worth everything I am and have. In this last year I have been freed through the power of the Holy Spirit from the addictions, wounds, and religion that so controlled my life and kept me in bondage to a life far less than the one God had planned for me. This last year was a journey that ultimately led me to a place where I finally “got” God’s radical love.
Today, I am starting upon another year-long journey. One that I think will lead to getting to know His power in ways far beyond my imagination.
Later tonight is the first night in a year-long internship with the School of Supernatural Ministry, a class/internship/community that is devoted to teaching and imparting the gifts of the Spirit and miraculous/supernatural expressions of faith like prophecy, supernatural healing, and signs and wonders.
A year ago I would have laughed at someone participating in such a class. Five years ago I would not have believed any of this.
I am filled with excitement and anticipation. I think this is what the disciples must have felt right when they were given authority drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness and were about to be sent out. I am hungry and thirsty to see God move in ways that I have never seen Him moved. I want to see signs and wonders to confirm my faith. I want to be trained to do these things because the world is on fire with pain and suffering and I don’t think Jesus came to bring management or control of what binds us, but freedom through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Another part of me is scared and a little embarrassed. This year I am going to intentionally put myself in situations where if God does not come through and answer prayers, my faith could be shaken or I could be written off as a madman or an idiot. Also, I have come to some convictions about what the life of someone following Jesus Christ should look like and know that I am still very far off from that life.
My prayer when I was doing ministry in Modesto was very simple. “God, if you are there, I need some help.” I then did everything I could to follow Him. After the life-transforming experiences of last year my prayer for this coming year can be encapsulated in one word: