Some experiences in life are too powerful and intimate to be captured with words. I had such an experience last night.
Even though I know words will fail me, I feel compelled to share. How can I keep from testifying to what God has done?
[Warning: This post is quite long.]
This week I’ve been entertaining some crazy thoughts and 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’ve 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 questions arose during a week in which I didn’t touch a piano (because of a cold and my Korean language classes starting). Friday, when I finally sat in front of a piano, 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 through my fingers. But, I still didn’t know what that meant for my future in a practical sense.
Does having this passion and gift mean I should aspire to be a concert pianist, or would playing for myself in my living room be just as good a use of my gift? (Or is there something in between?)
Heaven and Earth
On the way from practicing to a prayer meeting at church, a thought suddenly came to me, one of those thoughts that didn’t seem to have originated in me: The desires that burn deep within you and the potential you have will be fully realized in heaven.
That seemed like a weird thought. (Will there even be pianos in heaven?) 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,”
Perhaps there was something to this weird thought. Maybe the point of this life was 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 does, in fact, have a time limit.
That unexpected revelation brought release from my anxiety.
Then I promptly got lost.
I had never gone from school to church before, so I took a unfamiliar bus along an unfamiliar route, and before I knew it, I was wandering down a long dark street looking desperately for a particular bakery (the only landmark I knew) which seemed less and less likely to appear.
Finally, I asked a young man for directions, pointing to the address on the church bulletin I conveniently had in my bag. It was a total shot in the dark, but to my surprise, he squinted at the crude map on the bulletin, then said he knew it and would take me there. I didn’t fully believe him, but followed, hoping for the best.
Turns out his parents attend the Korean church that my English-speaking church is a part of and that he is a student at the University where I am studying Korean! Suddenly the world didn’t feel huge and overwhelming but small and interconnected.
Suddenly I didn’t feel lost, but seen.
I arrived at the prayer meeting thankful just to have made it there, not knowing God had something special in store. It turned out, about 30 pastors from all over Asia were in attendance. (They are in Korea for a conference.) And after a message by a pastor from India, he invited all the pastors up to do a prayer tunnel.
I had never heard of a prayer tunnel, but the pastor from India insisted it was going to be powerful and instructed the pastors (from the Philippines, Malaysia, Nepal, Myanmar, India, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Bangladesh) to form a human tunnel. Like the tunnel you make as kids that everyone in the class takes turns running through, two lines of people with hands stretched overhead. This time, we weren’t going to run, but walk slowly, positioning ourselves to receive blessings.
I was the fourth person in line, and I felt awkward as I entered. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do or how I was supposed to posture myself, but I settled on bowing my head and folding my hands as the pastors began laying hands on me, saying, “Bless this sister.”
Then, about halfway through, something broke open inside me. The love and power flowing out of these humble, seasoned pastors hit me, and I began to cry.
As I walked on, I cried more and more. I felt the pastors’ prayers deepen as they saw me being touched. “Anoint this sister! Anoint her!” And a deep hunger for intimacy with God that I’ve only experienced a handful of times in my life came over me.
At the end of the tunnel, a pastor put his hand on my forehead, holding me there with his hand for a few solid 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 my head firmly, insisting the prayer for me wasn’t done, declaring the names of the Trinity over me again and again.
When he finally released me, I was sobbing, and the girl who had been walking ahead a me, grabbed hold of me and hugged me until I could get ahold of myself.
It was difficult to put words to anything that I was feeling, but as I sat down and began to observe the rest of the people going through the line, some words began to come.
Love. Intimacy. Safety.
I watched as people wept, fell, shook, and laughed––despite trying their hardest to hold it it. Although I’d never seen people experience God in these ways before, I felt oddly safe amidst it all.
I noticed that next to the tunnel, leaders from my church were interceding. They were keeping an eye on everyone as they went through, catching people when they swayed, making sure no one got hurt. It occurred to me that just as I had had to let down my guard and open myself up in order to be touched and start crying in the tunnel, these people who were weeping, falling, and shaking were making themselves very vulnerable.
I realized how much trust was in the room.
I thought, “This is how the family of God is supposed to love each other.” (And immediately burst into tears.)
I’m still not entirely sure what happened last night, but something has shifted inside me. Power, life, and love have been released. They are bursting within me even now.
Earlier this week, as I was falling asleep, God said: Expect more. At the time, I wasn’t entirely sure what He meant, but now I understand.
This is only the beginning.