Last night was our last ever meeting of REALife, and it was awesome. Although I’m going to miss everyone incredibly, I can’t think of a better way to end our two years of ministry on Thursday nights. (And, actually, it may not be the end; the kids were talking to Josiah about keeping things going on over summer.)
But I can’t really think of any better way to describe tonight than to say God showed up. (Yes, he’s always here (Matthew 28:20, Matthew 18:20, Deuteronomy 31:6), but there are also times when he’s more here (2 Corinthians 3:17, Exodus 19:18-20, Luke 5:17, Psalm 46:1, Isaiah 57:15, Acts 2:4, 2 Chronicles 5:11-14) or, at the very least, when we notice him more.)
Right from the start, the presence of God at REALife was stronger than usual. We spent some time in worship, and it was powerful. Worship has usually been difficult for us. Partly it’s because I don’t sing well, partly it’s because our kids all come from different churches who sing different songs, partly it’s because our kids are shy about expressing themselves to God, and partly it’s because some of our kids haven’t surrendered yet. But tonight was awesome. I heard kids singing loudly whom I’ve never heard sing before, and there was a real sense of joy and expectation. (Having Mark, Susan, Josiah, and James was definitely a huge benefit as they all love to worship God.)
I started off sharing a little from the early life of Saul (1 Samuel 9-10), concentrating on how he left his home as a good-looking kid in search of his rich dad’s missing donkeys but he returned a king-to-be. The key in this transformation is given in Samuel’s parting words to Saul: “Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you mightily, and you shall prophesy with them and be changed into another man” (1 Samuel 10:6).
There is a kingly destiny to which God intends to bring each of us, though we may now be but kids in search of donkeys, but the key question is this: will I allow his Spirit to come into me and change me into another man?
I had no clue where God would take us from there, but my plan was then to minister prophetically over our graduating seniors (only one in this case) and then pray over any others we had time for. Things started out pretty normal and according to plan, but then God sort of just showed up.
While prophesying over Jake, Josiah shared a word based on Acts 1:8, that there was power God wanted to put in Jake. It lined up with a word I was sensing of how God wanted to so transform Jake that he’d look back and say, “How could I have ever thought I was alive before?” It was a good word, and I was definitely happy, but little did I know, God wanted to finish what he’d started.
After some time, we began praying for Sam. At this time, most of the kids in the room had wandered off to get drinks, go to the bathroom, etc., so other than Sam and us praying for her, the room was empty. As we prayed, I began to hear talking coming from the living room, and I’m thinking, “Geez, c’mon. Don’t they recognize there’s ministry going on here?” I was getting ready to head over there to tell them to take things outside, but before I could do so Susan began to give a powerful word in tongues. As the Spirit of God was moving in our room, though, the talking next door was getting louder. I started thinking, “Oh, great, they think we’re nuts. They’re all joking around out there.” Many of our kids attend churches in the evangelical and liturgical tradition, so it was a legitimate worry.
At this point, although I was resolved to be patient and understanding with our teens, I was feeling pretty certain that Josh (the last student to be prayed for) had wandered off because he was bored and not at all interested in what was going on and that the others were being disrespectful and just goofing around in the other room. But we finished prophesying over Sam, and I called Josh to come on in.
Josh came in quickly, with the rest of the group right behind him, and someone says to me, “We already started prophesying over him in the other room. Do you want us to repeat it here so it can get recorded?”
Wait, did I hear that right? So they weren’t goofing around, they were prophesying? Talk about a move of God!
But things got even more fun when the meeting ended. While the kids wandered around talking with each other about the night, I was thanking Mark and Susan for driving out to be with us.
Then Josh and Jake came up to me.
“Hey, Ben, I heard something for Jake that was kind of confusing.”
“Yeah? What did you hear?”
Josh then shared some cool-sounding words in a foreign language. “I told it to Jake, but he didn’t know what it meant. I felt like God said to ask you what it means.”
“Well,” I began, “I think it’s a message in tongues. I think God wants to fill Jake with the Holy Spirit and release him into speaking in tongues tonight.” (If I’d have payed attention to Josiah’s original prophetic word for Jake, this would have been a no-brainer.)
“Jake,” I turned to him, “what do you think?”
“Yeah, I want that. Definitely,” he said quickly and energetically.
So that unleashed something. Jake was quickly filled with the Spirit, speaking in tongues, and feeling the presence of God all over him. When I pray for some people, there’s a resistance in them, but Jake just received everything. Then things settled down, Jake’s parents came to pick him up [oh, man, how am I going to explain all this to them???], Rae took Sam home, Mark and Susan headed home, and it looked like all the kids had left for the night (it being about 9 p.m. by this time).
I was hoping Josh hadn’t left yet, but I couldn’t find him anywhere. I felt like I needed to see if he was ready to be baptized in the Spirit tonight. (He got the word in a foreign language for Jake, after all.) I had resigned myself to the situation when, about 15 minutes later, Josh came in the door.
By the time the night had ended (about 10 p.m., 2 hours after our end time), Jake, Josh, Scott, and Seth were all filled with the Spirit and touched in some very physical ways (Scott nearly fell over, Josh’s heart was beating like crazy, Jake and Seth felt heat all over them…). They’d been strengthened and encouraged to pursue God for more of him, tasted a bit of his presence that’ll leave them hungry for more, dealt with issues of unyielded sin, and been filled with the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19).
It was an amazing night, and in the aftermath, I got a text from one student (who actually missed the really exciting stuff at the end): “God has entered all our hearts with what we’ve heard tonight, and now I feel as if some of us are ready to help more people than we know.” I like that.
So, yeah, it was an awesome night… a little crazy… still trying to sort things out… but awesome.