road trip raves: bethel church
One of the first attractions we visited on our road trip from Vancouver, Canada to Los Angeles, California was a lovely wildlife safari in the middle of Oregon. And as we continued our journey south, we decided that our next stop would be Redding, California.
While I do not possess the best memory (something my husband is eternally grateful for), I recalled that Bethel Church was based there. I dare say that there was divine intervention at work, because everything came together perfectly.
We arrived on a Friday, which just so happened to be a day that Bethel had an evening service, and we managed to find an RV park that was close by, so we could either walk or take an Uber there.
No prizes for guessing which mode of transport we decided to take there! Obviously, we were well under the speed limit :p
To be honest, walking by a highway to church while vehicles whizzed by us at dizzying speeds felt a little scary, but also like we were on a pilgrimage. I felt a sense of excitement and expectation as we trudged forward, and (obviously) felt elated when we finally arrived safely.
The church is set upon a hill, so as we walked up, we could see its logo in the distance. The surrounding air was tranquil and the sky was filled with soft, warm light as the sun set. What more could two weary travellers ask for?
Because we arrived early, we managed to grab seats close to the stage, and also heard the worship team rehearsing before service started. (I thought it was a recording from a CD before I went in at first... they were SO GOOD.)
Then something unexpected happened.
V started tearing up while we sat there listening to the worship songs. I was a little shocked and asked if he was okay. He answered: "I can feel the Spirit of God moving in this place, like a mighty river." He added that it was as if God was saying, "Because people are expecting to meet with Me here, I will show up."
When service started at 7pm, I felt it too. That hunger, that yearning, that desire to worship God fully. The congregation was 100% THERE, guys. You know there are times when you're halfheartedly singing or maybe not really "feeling" the song being sung? Well, this was definitely not one of those times. Everyone was singing their guts out, praising and worshipping Jesus, lifting their hands, dancing, moving, kneeling... it was such a powerful outpouring of worship that I, too, was swept up in it.
To be honest, it's been a long time since I've experienced such a deep connection with God during a worship segment. More often than not, it's become "lip service". It was a rush of pure joy to realise that all I was doing there was worshipping God. Not lifting my hands because everyone else was doing so, but because I wanted to. Not singing because I wanted to be heard, but because my heart was overflowing with love for Jesus.
Then another unexpected thing happened.
Toward the end of the service, the pastor invited everyone to be a part of a "fire tunnel". This was where people would walk through a "tunnel" made by two parallel lines of people standing with their arms outstretched overhead. Some people were slain in the spirit, while others were shaking with tears or laughter.
I felt a little apprehensive because I just wasn't sure what to expect. It's been a long time since I've witnessed manifestations of God. Anyhow, V and I decided to do it, and as I walked through, a woman reached out to me and said:
"You are enough. You are more than a conqueror in Christ."
At the time, I looked at her and smiled and said "thank you". But afterward, I wondered why the woman said these words to me. I had no doubt that it was God-sent, but I didn't know why it was said.
Today, as I was journalling, God revealed the answer.
There have been many times in my life that I have felt - and been - rejected. Inevitably, I've felt that I was never good enough, or worthy enough, for a lot of things - including God's love.
Those words, spoken over my life by a complete stranger, were God's way of telling me that I am loved. I don't need to become a better version of myself to be accepted by God. I just need to rest in His beautiful assurance and His deep, abiding love for me.
There is so much freedom in this revelation. To realise that I am completely seen, and completely known, by God - and loved just the same. And to know that He sees me as "more than a conqueror", even when I can't get past my faults, flaws, and weaknesses.
Visiting Bethel was a life-changing experience for me, not because of how amazing the worship leaders sounded or how cool the service was, but because God revealed Himself - and His heart - to me, even when I least expected it.
My prayer is that you, too, will recognise and believe that He loves you for who you are, and that nothing will ever change that.
933 College View Dr