Some experiences in life are too powerful or intimate to be captured with words. I had such an experience last night. But even though I know my words will fail me, I feel compelled to try to share. How can I keep from testifying to what the Lord has done?
[Warning: this post is going to be super-long.]
Man, so I thought I was changing before… the changes have just begun, my friend.
This week I have been having some crazy thoughts and entertaining some wild ideas.
Could I live in Korea forever?
What if I didn’t become a piano teacher and did something completely different (like teach English)?
Is playing the piano essential to me?
If so, what does that mean?
Basically I have been questioning every assumption I have ever had about my future, my identity, and my life. By Friday, I was feeling a bit drained from all the over-thinking.
Probably not coincidentally, these thoughts happened during a week in which I didn’t practice piano at all (because of a cold, language classes starting, etc.). But Friday afternoon, when I finally touched a piano for the first time in a week, I decided that yes, I do love playing the piano. There is something within me that just feels right when I let music flow out me through my fingers. But I still didn’t know what that meant for my future, practically. Am I supposed to train myself as hard as I can to be able to play as well as I can all the time? Should I be aspiring to be a concert pianist? Or is playing for myself in my living room just as good a use of my gift? (Or is there something in between?)
On the way from practicing to the Friday night prayer meeting, a thought suddenly came to me. Whatever desires burn deep within me and whatever potential I have will be fulfilled in heaven. At first that seemed like a weird thought. Will there even be pianos in heaven? But then I remembered a C. S. Lewis quote,
“If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world,”
and I decided that maybe there was something to my thought. Maybe the point of this life is not for me to fulfill my potential (I have all of eternity for that), but to simply usher in God’s kingdom, to do His work that in fact does have a time limit.
With that unexpected revelation came release from my anxiety.
And then I promptly got lost.
I had never gone directly from school to church before, so I took a new bus along a new route, and before I knew it, I was wandering down a long dark street looking for a certain bakery that seemed less and less likely to appear.
Finally, I asked for directions. (After only 2 days of language class, my confidence in my Korean speaking ability has greatly increased, by the way!) I went up to a young man who was waiting to cross the street and asked if he knew the address. It was kind of a shot in the dark, because those windy side streets are pretty complex. But after studying the crude map on the back of the church bulletin I handed him, he told me he knew the place and would take me there. I didn’t fully believe him, but began to walk beside him.
After a few moments of awkward silence, he asked me if I was from the Philippines, I told him that no, I was American and half-Korean, and that opened the door for a really interesting conversation, half in Korean, half in English.
Turns out he is a student at the University where I am studying Korean and his parents go to the Korean church my church is associated with (which is why he actually did know where it was). It was one of those connections with a random stranger that are so cool because they are completely unexpected. He took me all the way to the entrance of the church (even though we had apparently passed his house awhile back), we shook hands, and then he was gone.
I entered the prayer meeting with a renewed sense of God’s ability to provide in surprising, personal ways. But I had no idea how much was in store…
Right now, pastors from all over Asia are here for this conference.
About 30 or so were at the prayer meeting last night. I was already tearing up and crying and stuff during worship and while the Pastor from India was giving the message, but then the pastors did this prayer tunnel thing. The Pastor from India had shared how powerful it was when a team from my church did this at his orphanage, how the children had been transformed by the blessing they received. So he enthusiastically insisted that all the pastors (from the Philippines, Malaysia, Nepal, Myanmar, India, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Bangladesh) form a human tunnel and everyone else pass through to be blessed.
I was actually the fourth person to go through the tunnel, so I felt a little self-conscious as I entered. The system wasn’t quite rolling yet, my pastor was saying to pray, but I didn’t really know how, pastors were laying their hands on me and blessing me, and I was just bowing my head to receive. But then about halfway through, something opened in me. I started to feel the love and power flowing out of these humble, seasoned pastors, and I began to cry. As I walked further and further, I started crying more and more, and I felt the pastors’ prayers deepen as they saw me being touched. “Anoint this sister! Anoint her!” they kept praying, and I cried out in my spirit in agreement. This deep hunger for intimacy with God that I have only experienced a handful of times in my life came over me, filled me, and overflowed out of me through my tears.
Then I reached the end of the tunnel, and the pastor on my left put his hand on my forehead. (I think it was the pastor from India who had just preached, but my eyes were closed, so I’m not entirely sure.) I had only paused for a few seconds next to all of the other pastors, but he held me there with his hand for a few minutes as he called out blessings over me. At one point, mindful of the huge line of people behind me, I tried to press forward, expecting him to give way, but he didn’t. He held onto me, insisting on praying over me, over and over calling out the names of the Trinity in blessing over me. When he finally released me, I was sobbing, and fortunately the girl who had gone through ahead a me (a new friend I had just met earlier that evening), grabbed hold of me and hugged me until I let all my sobs out.
I was directed to sit down, so I did, right in front of the tunnel. At first I was just crying, then I finished crying but still couldn’t open my eyes.
Then I finally opened my eyes and started to observe what was happening in front of me.
People were being touched, just as I had been. People were weeping, falling down, shaking, and laughing. Just to clarify, I do not come from a charismatic background, so all this Spirit stuff is new for me. Since coming to this church, I have seen one or two people fall down while being prayed for up at the altar, but that’s about the extent of my experience. Only a few weeks ago, I think I would have been weirded out by all this, but I have come to trust and respect this church enough that I felt perfectly safe amidst it all.
That concept of safety was something God deeply impressed upon me as I watched people shake and fall down. I had noticed that throughout the prayer tunnel time, leaders from church were interceding next to the tunnel. They were watching everyone and praying for them as they went through. Now I noticed guys leading certain girls through the tunnel, others walking behind them to pick them up when they fell down or holding them if they started to shake uncontrollably. I realized that just as I had had to let go of my self-consciousness and open myself up in order to be touched and start crying, these people who were weeping and falling down and shaking were making themselves very vulnerable. I realized how much trust was present in the room.
I suddenly thought, “This is how the family of God is supposed to love each other,” and I started sobbing again.
I’m still not entirely sure what happened last night, but something has shifted inside me. Power and life and love have been released that are bursting to pour out. Earlier this week, as I was falling asleep, God spoke this word to me: Expect more. At the time, I wasn’t entirely sure what He meant, but now I understand it completely.
This is only the beginning.