* In case you missed yesterday's Part 1 post, Click Here to get acquainted *
I pretty much floated in to the venue after what had just happened. I honestly could have gone home and been ok with that. We picked up our tickets at will call and headed in to the breakout session.
The breakout session was a small group - MAYBE 60 people - and the worship team. We had an AMAZING time of acoustic worship where we sang some of my favorite songs and where I found myself praying fervently that ANY walls around my heart would come down so that I could really immerse myself in what was going to happen. I could feel something stirring in my Spirit even then.
I need to jump back for a second though - Before the girls and I left in the morning, we stopped for breakfast. At breakfast, I told them about this crazy and VERY real and VERY weird and VERY scary dream I had a few nights before. I am a 'dreamer' - I dream as though its real life. I dream vividly. I dream in color and I dream with emotions. This particular dream, however, was a new kind of experience - too wonky to really get in to via a blog post, BUT, I had to tell them because I felt like I did... and I honestly needed to talk it out.
We are at the breakout, we have AMAZING worship, and then the team files in and has a seat. We open with prayer and the questions began to trickle in. Remember my #fangirl worship leader? WELL. At one point, someone had asked her a question and she started talking about a prophetic dream that she had and then she stopped dead in her tracks and said - We need to pray against dreams that are from the enemy - and she prayed this MIGHTY prayer that really came up against those kinds of dreams. Coincidence? I think not. Not for ONE second. She could have been praying for ANYthing. There were MANY needs in that room. And yet she prays for the dreamers? I just can't even handle it. I looked at the girls, they looked at me and we could only muster a small shake of our heads. We knew.
After the breakout with the worship team, the Bethel worship Pastor came out and began to talk to us. He had a word of knowledge as he was speaking, so he stopped to share. At first, he asked if there was a Maria there - and there was a couple. He also handpicked a couple of other people from the group. As they stood, he was talking to them. As he was talking to them, he began to point. At me. He wasn't looking at me. Not once. Not ever. But I would move, his finger would follow me. Side to side or staying still - it didn't matter. We couldn't believe it. I remember looking at one friend and giving the 'are you seeing what I'm seeing' look - and she gave it RIGHT back. I'll bet you're wondering what he said. Well.. He said that "the time of darkness and depression is coming to an end. He said we are a diamond, and we've been hidden in a cave. What we used to only see from afar, we will now see up close. As the diamond is taken from the darkness into the light, it will shine and the rays will reach impossible lengths because of the Son. We are going to be propelled to places beyond our current reach." This is not an EXACT quote of what he said, but its pretty close. And again - ALL THE WHILE that he is saying this and looking at the people standing, he is pointing to me. Unknowingly, I am 100% sure. The FUNNIER part? The part that really showcases God's sense of humor? For the past couple of years, my brother has nicknamed me "Maria" (said with a Portuguese accent)... And so, it doesn't REALLY strike me as THAT odd that he was pointing. Additionally, this word was VERY VERY timely for me. I'm waiting on the second half of it, but I have seen glimpses of stronger light lately.
After the word, I was honestly a little overwhelmed. My heart was racing, my mind was racing - I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time - it was a large conflict of emotions. As he moved into his preaching, I thought that I would have to emotionally "check out" as they say to preserve the rest of my sanity, but about 2 minutes in, I KNEW I needed to hear this message. While I can't steal all his thunder, here is my takeaway: Picture a stage in your mind. Now, I love a good visualization - so here is mine: My floor is beautifully marked and scuffed wood that shines in some places, and not in others. It's slightly higher than most stages, and there are three ways up - two side staircases and one center one that gets wider as the steps get closer to the top. The curtain in the back is deep, deep black - the kind of black that you aren't even sure you can see. The side curtains are a vibrant red, they are velour; they are heavy. The tiebacks are sturdy and strong. The curtains, though old, are in great shape - they hang perfectly like my favorite dress would. On that stage, for this particular scene, there is a box that creates a stair and another platform. On top of that platform are 3 chairs, side by each. The chairs have a rounded back and a wide seating area. They are old and faded burgundy. The wood is smooth and still rich in both color and scent. There are tarnished studs holding the cushions together. In front of these chairs is one spotlight. It sits in the center - so it shines on the center seat, but the corners of the light overflows on to the seats on the side. I am the only one in this audience that can see this stage. I sit middle row, middle seat, middle section.
So he tells us to picture a stage in our mind. On that stage is 3 chairs. Each one of those chairs represents one of three ways we respond to any situation - fear, pride, and from the position of our identity and calling in Christ. DURING this preaching, I got a text message from the worship leader that was supposed to lead on Sunday. He had an emergency and had to go out of state to handle it. This meant I had to lead - this is an important part of the story that I will resurrect in a little bit. Anyway - so you will always respond to a situation with fear, pride or identity. He said that we need to ALWAYS position ourselves in the identity/calling seat. So, when we feel fear, we need to visualize getting up OFF the fear seat, walking over and sitting in the seat of our identity/calling. Same goes for pride. The goal is to consistently find ourselves sitting in the identity/calling seat at any given time. He said that if we commit to doing this, then we will only grow closer to the Lord.
SO - lots more happened that night, but I'm saving that (the best!) for part 3. Maybe tomorrow :)
HOWEVER, before I end this, I have to fast forward you to that Sunday where I had to unexpectedly lead worship.
Worship leading... oh worship leading... UP until this point, it was ALWAYS an act of obedience. I can't recall if I ever wrote about how worship leading all came about, but let's just say that I call it my 'accidental gift.' The one I never even knew I had. TO THIS DAY (3 years in to it..) I STILL get unbelievably nervous before I lead. Upset stomach, the flight response in full effect. Good thing I have an AMAZING and supportive team. Anyway - this particular Sunday found me leading from the piano and with a drummer who is really a backup vocalist/saxophone player so it was not the usual set up. I was SOSTINKINNERVOUS - honestly. I got there early, we were warming up and I could feel myself sinking into my fear. What if I blew it? What if church couldn't connect because I was doing so badly? I'm just not good enough to do this today... And then I remembered the preaching. I took a minute, closed my eyes, envisioned myself getting up from the fear seat and sitting in that middle seat - the seat of my CALLING and the seat of my IDENTITY in Christ. I opened my eyes and decided that I would lean in to my Jesus instead of my flesh and the WHOLE atmosphere changed.
It was in that moment that I truly believed - for the FIRST time - that God gave me (literally - gave/gifted me a talent i didn't previously have) the ability to lead worship. He gave me the ability to share my heart through a melody. He gave me the desire to connect with people in a song so that we can go straight to His heart and rest there. And so from that seat of my calling and my identity, I decided to give God back the gift HE gave me and surrender completely to it.
Instead of a half-hearted attempt at leading that day, worship THUNDERED forth. It burst forth - like the spring time at its peak. I felt the shift. My team even felt the shift. I believe church felt the shift - it felt like we were finally moving forward and pressing on. Remember that vocalist/saxophone player who is also a pinch hit drummer? He dubbed this "the Bethel Effect." And you know what? It fits.