This blog was supposed to be written before I even left for Redding, however busyness proved to be a ready excuse to procrastinate, and thus prevented that from happening. A few faithful friends have already asked when I would get my post done (I gave them permission to bug me for updates) and my response was a very indefinite "soon". And then I had my first day of class.....
Soooo many things were talked about today, my mind is still reeling 4 hours later. However, sitting, hearing Bill Johnson address us first year students for the first time convicted me that I needed to get this written, if for no other reason than for my own remembrance. I'm not going to get into all of that now, instead, here is the first part of the (long) story of how this logical accountant left the security of home and employment in Calgary to venture off to the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM) in Redding, California.
2 years ago, I had never heard of Redding, Bethel, or even the worship band Jesus Culture. Then in December of 2010, a friend of mine "D" invited to attend this event called "Jesus Culture" in California in February 2011. Usually any excuse to leave Calgary in February would be welcome, however, I had just dramatically changed my relationship with D, instilling rather strict boundaries, and the fallout of that series of events had me even questioning my relationship with Christ. So needless to say, I was not about to go to a "church" event, especially with this individual, no matter where it was.
I didn't think much of this event again, until D came back with glowing reviews. I highly value this person's opinion on matters of faith and religion, so I thought it significant that D was so moved by the experience. However, I was still suffering from the fallout that had resulted from the change I had caused in our friendship, and I didn't have much interest in the things of God or even talking to Him for that matter. At least that is what I told myself....
About this same time, a friend from my home church introduced me to Jesus Culture and to a little bit of what Bethel Church in Redding was about. I found it interesting, but I still wasn't much in the mood to talk to the Lord about anything. But this, coupled with D's glowing reviews of the Jesus Culture event in Redding began to pique my curiosity.
And then in early 2011 (let's say March) I met another friend ("J") on Facebook through a mutual friend. During our conversations, J came to know the Lord and stated having dreams and visions - some of which were about me. At this time, I still really wasn't talking to the Lord, but my conversations with J started warming me up to being in a relationship with Jesus again. One day J had a dream with 3 words for me and informed me that the Lord would tell me when the time was right for me to ask for those words to be shared. So I waited a month and then asked J to share them with me. It took a little while for J to find them in a prayer journal, but a few weeks later I received a Facebook message with the words, one of which was "BSSM." At that time neither of us knew what that stood for, and J suggested I Google it. I was a chicken and waited a bit, but eventually did. And of course the first thing that popped up was Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. My jaw hit the floor. I had never looked up anything on the web related to Bethel before so I knew it wasn't Google just being smart - I definitely felt this was a word from God and I was in shock.
Throughout this whole period, I discovered that the company I was working for was more than likely going out of business. Being the accountant I was well aware of the financial situation, and it wasn't good to say the least. I negotiated with them, and they asked me to stay on with the company until the end - which ended up being July 7, 2011. If I stayed they would give me a fairly significant severance package - it looked to be enough for me to cover my expenses if I were to take a year off of work.
Needless to say, this got things going with my relationship with the Lord, and I decided to meet with my Pastor to talk things through. Pastor J and I had a good conversation and time of prayer and I asked him if he thought this meant I should apply to the school. He said it wouldn't hurt, it was only $35 to apply, so why not? This was about June 2011.
The application was somewhat lengthy, and required letters from 2 references and my Pastor. By the time this process was complete it was already early August, and classes were scheduled to start early September 2011. Around August 20th I had a phone interview with someone from Bethel. I had a great conversation with them, and at the end of it I was informed I was accepted but they had too many students so I was on the waiting list - they would let me know no later than mid-September if I was accepted.
This left me in a bit of a conundrum! Should I look for a job or not? I had been doing a bit of consulting over the summer as I waited to see what would unfold with school, but I knew that work was coming to an end, and I would need something permanent if I was going to stay in Calgary. It looked like I might have an opportunity with a Christian Media organization, but I was concerned if I took the role, I would lose my passion for school and get wrapped up in working.
I decided to take the opportunity to go to my cousin's condo on Vancouver Island to think this over and pray about it. While I was there, Jeremiah 29:11 came to mind "'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for your good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope'."This verse has been important to me for years, but I needed something more than that, so I decided to look at the context of the verse. In Jeremiah 29, the Lord promised the exiled Israelites that He was going to bring them out of exile. So they were wondering if they should settle down and develop their lives in exile, or just live day to day waiting for Him to lead them back home. The Lord told them to settle down, live their lives, and to trust Him to lead them out when the time was right. For me personally, I realized that I needed to get on with my life in Calgary, and trust God would prepare things for me when it was time to go to school.
I think that is a long enough post for now - so I will leave you, my dear friends, in suspense (although I guess the final outcome is clear haha). I will continue on with the story of how I ended up in Redding another day (before this week is out I promise).