In my girls’ small group at W&L, we always start off our meetings with highs and lows. I think that’s the best way to sum up my first two weeks at IHOP:EG. I wish I could say that I’m unshaken by circumstances and that, no matter where I am, I am confident and at peace because of my identity in Jesus. But unfortunately, I’m just not that mature…at least not yet. So this internship started out with a bit of a roller coaster ride.
Low #1: Although I could eventually no longer attribute it to culture shock, I was still stressed and frustrated about our seemingly disorganized schedule and my loss of a plan for housing. I would sit in the Prayer Room, get bored within 30 minutes, and accuse God for the next hour and a half with lines like, “Why did You bring me here for this whole summer?" and “What am I going to do with myself for the next two months? I don't even have a place to stay!” (Yep, I was full of myself… thank the Lord for His grace and mercy.)
High #1: I’ve played the flute for 12 years. A lot of time, effort, and my parents’ money has gone into lessons, band, auditions, recitals, concerts, etc. But until just a year or two ago, I never really used my flute to praise the Lord. I didn’t know how. I could only play music written on a page, which just isn’t very useful in Spirit-led worship. However, last year, Chris gave me some tips so that I can now play by ear. Suddenly, this instrument that I love can be used to make music to Jesus! This is relevant to my internship, because now, for the first time since starting college, I play my flute for several hours a week. And I love it! In the Prayer Room, I actually get to live out Psalm 150:4 (“Praise the Lord with harp and flute”). What a privilege!
Low #2: The Prayer Room is freezing! I’ve gotten used to it, but at first, this was a big struggle for me. I would try to pray but be so mad about how cold I was that I couldn’t focus AT ALL! I tried using a blanket, but naturally: Sitting on the floor + wrapped in a blanket + closing my eyes to pray = prayer??? Nope….sleeping!
High #2: The teachings that we listened to rapidly began to change my view on creation and heaven. Talking to some of the staff at EG blew my mind, and I found myself telling everyone about how heaven is a REAL place, not an immaterial realm where we float around on clouds. Like a child, I was easily excited by even the simplest things we learned. For example, God stretched out the heavens after He created them (Isaiah 42:5). I didn’t know that! And there must be at least some animals in heaven, because Jesus will come down riding a white horse (Rev 19:11). And there are at least 3 heavens (2 Cor 12:2), with God dwelling in the highest heaven (Deut 10:14, Job 22:12)! The stuff we were learning was just so cool!
High #3: One of Chris’ friends shared with us how she really believed we were in the right place. She knew I was frustrated about housing and the disorganization, but she stressed the importance of learning to be sent. When God tells us to go somewhere, our job is to obey, even before He actually provides the way. Naturally, as humans, we want provision before we go, but that takes little faith. Real faith is demonstrated when we follow God before we can see how He will come through. The next day, I found a place to stay that was much closer to EG. So she was right. God provides when we take the first steps towards what He asks of us.
Low #3: Now that Chris and I were no longer staying with his parents, I couldn’t rely on Chris to drive me everywhere. The first time I had to drive by myself on the Garden State Parkway, I cried the whole way home. In retrospect, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected. All I had to do was merge on, stay in my lane for 3 or 4 exits, exit, and make a few turns on local roads. But that first night, it seemed terrifying. SO MANY LANES! And headlights...EVERYWHERE!
Low #4: It rained on our first day off. So much for our plans to head down to the Jersey shore. L
High #4: It turned out okay because we went to the Liberty Science Center instead and got to watch a lady dissect a cow eye (gross!), see an IMAX about sharks, and lots of other fun stuff.
Low #5: On the way back, we got stuck in traffic for the first time. Not fun. At all. I think traffic is a great way to become better acquainted with our sin nature. So much anger and so little patience. It's a very simple reminder of how much we need God's mercy.
High #5: We attended our first Encounter God Service and Sunday Expressions, both of which were unlike any church service I’ve been to in the United States. It was amazing to see such freedom in worship. Everyone praised God in their own way, and no one cared what anyone else was doing. It’s a beautiful thing to see people dance for Jesus.
High #6: I discovered that it IS possible to cook with no stove, oven, measuring cups, or Pampered chef utensils. A slow cooker and a toaster oven is all you need! The EG staff have a term for such things….MISSIONARY LIFESTYLE!
Low #6: Just when I was getting used to things, it was time for my 6:30am flight out of Newark. But it's probably unfair to count that as a low...I was headed to PUERTO RICO! More on that in my next blog...