So finally we were back home. A lot of things to do after two months of absence: laundry, paperwork, errands, fixing the camper, and the hardest thing of all: choices. I didn’t even know which were the choices I needed to make, but I felt there was a lot coming ahead and I was confused.
After traveling and doing so many things, my spiritual batteries were running on empty, but I didn’t know how to recharge them. A reunion of the 2016 PTS students was organized, and it was for me amazing to see how many lives had been impacted through that work, and to see the fruit on the students’ lives… but the answer wasn’t there. Even Torben was there too, and we had an amazing day sharing testimonies and being encouraged. Someone was born again that day and got baptized, the husband of a disciple who had been working with us, a long beautiful story I might share some day. But all of this increase the tension in me.
Tension from different corners, I could say. On one side, because I felt a bit guilty for having been absent so long, neglecting some contacts we had made in our region. We felt responsible for building up the disciples we had baptized or helped to bring to faith in our own area. Besides, I had no strength or desire to go out on the streets and do -what I thought to be- the regular daily work of a disciple, which also made me feel uncomfortable. And the main point was seeing all that happened in the Netherlands in just one year, and knowing that 2017 would possibly be even bigger and more challenging. Was my heart ready for such a fast growth? Would I stand the persecutions, temptations, and my pride? Would I be useful?
As the days went by I realized I needed to spend time alone with God. With all the traveling and being constantly ministering, taking care of the family and sleeping at strange locations, fixing the camper, and so on, my prayer life became more of a lifestyle than a special event, which was right for that season. I was talking to God during the day, as things happened and challenges rose up. Now being back home I had kept that attitude, even though now I could take the time to spend time alone with God.
So I did it. I went for a walk to the forest, to pray. Nothing glorious about that, I know, but for me that meant a lot. I hadn’t noticed I had been not on my normal mood lately, and that the atmosphere at home reflected how I felt. We had gone through so many changes in the last year and a half that stress had become the standard. As I started to walk I felt the quietness and peace of being alone, and I said to God: “Now I can finally talk to you, without all the noise of the kids, in silence and peace”. But then God answered immediately: “You don’t need silence and peace. You have been keeping your family out of your spiritual life since this began. What you need is to learn to pray with your kids, and involve your wife in what you are learning”. Then it was silence again, but what a different silence this was!
I had not heard the Holy Spirit talking in a while. Hearing his voice confronting me was the sweetest sound ever. It was painful to see my flaws, but to know my Father was correcting and shaping me, that He cared, His Spirit showing me what was going wrong in me… I was in tears of gratitude for what He had just done. I went back home, and there was no movie-ending, happy-ever-after event, but the realization of this brought a huge change in us as a family, a change that we still enjoy and that brought us so much closer to each other. Now there’s is a level of unity we had never experienced before, and much more love and peace.
That was a big breakthrough, but God was not done with me yet. One of the last days of the year a big pressure came upon me. I felt so out of place, not myself again, I could not be the normal me. Even my wife noticed it and asked me why was I so moody. I didn’t know it was the Holy Spirit digging deep in my heart. That night, as I was washing the dishes, God spoke again… “2017 will be a year with no secrets, you need to walk in the light”. He called me to confess issues from years before that I had never told my wife about. Nothing really big, but God wanted 100% light, no dark corners, no cracks on my walls, no secrets, no chances for the devil. So I did it. As I spoke to her, tears covered my face and I started to cry really hard -and I’m not the crying type of guy, at least that’s what I like to believe. I felt delivered, and after a couple of days we grew very close to each other again, experiencing freedom and unity.
So God used December 2016 to cleanse me, discipline me, shape me, and prepare me for 2017… a year that so far, has been incredible. But I will tell you about that on the next posts.