This is the post I have not wanted to write. The one that explains one of the hardest seasons I have yet to walk through. The one where I am finally real with myself. The one where I describe all of the pain I have been running from. The one that shows an unfiltered version of who I have been trying to be these past few months.
Since early November I have been trying to put into words how it is I have felt physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. It was not until returning from an incredible week that the Lord has finally given me the words to say. Going back to Panama City Beach is always a time the Lord uses to teach me. I think what He was teaching me really began before we left Cincinnati.
For months, I had been in the most apathetic season of my life. In the late summer I had been told by my doctor after a diagnosis that I might have trouble having children in the future. I did not have the words for it, I did not know how to respond. I also had some issues come up in which I was put right in the middle of an uncomfortable situation between people I care about. After all of this, I felt paralyzed in any emotion I wanted or needed to feel. I did not care about the things happening in my life and I felt extremely numb to anything and everything that was thrown my way. I had a weird season of friendships, not knowing how to tell them everything that was happening to its fullest extent. I wanted to respond. I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry until there was nothing left inside of me. I wanted to scream into what felt like a void or nothingness. I wanted to lash out in frustration. But through all of this, the Lord remained faithful. I kept praying, “Lord, reveal yourself to me in this season” and it was not until after the storm that I was able to see clearly His presence through it all.
Beach Reach gave me such a clear vision for all that the Lord had been doing in my life. Before all of this, before November, I had been praying that the Lord would take it all, until all I had left was Him. While I was down in PCB, on our first night of ministry (Sunday night), the Lord gave me the most incredible vision. We were serving our first 2 and a half hour shift in the prayer room, and for about an hour I was wrestling with this burning feeling that I was supposed to go to the ocean. I kept denying the feeling because I thought it was selfish. I walked to the back of the room that we were in a grand total of 15 times before I finally made an exit and headed for the beach.
As I reached the boardwalk beach access, I was in awe. The moon was shining so brightly that it created the most serene glow on the sand and a beautiful glisten on the waves as they crashed onto the shore. It was the most breathtaking sight I had seen in awhile. I decided to sit up on the railing of the deck and look out from a perched position. It felt so open, crisp, and clear being there in that moment. I sat there taking it all in for a bit before the Lord drew me into prayer. He did not say anything to me, nor did I feel inclined to speak, but He did paint for me the most vivid vision I have yet to experience in my life. As I looked across the waves my eyes were drawn downward to my hands where I saw the most beautiful silver platter. I reached into my chest, pulled out my heart, and placed it onto the platter. I extended my arms out in an offering and the Lord took the platter from me. I did not see where it went, but when it was returned to me, on it was also a heart, but this one was beautiful and glowing. I knew it was the Lord’s heart. I picked it up in my hand and placed it into my chest.
I was overwhelmed with tears after the vision was over. The Lord painted such a sweet answer to prayer for me as I had been asking for His heart all week leading up to the trip. I was reminded that I had given Him my heart when I said yes to the gospel, and because I had given Him my heart, He has given me His in return. After processing what I had just seen, I got up and immediately ran back to the main building where the prayer room was. On my return, I passed a youth group gathered around a campfire, singing a worship song. The song they were singing was one of my favorites while I was in college at BG. The song is called “The Anthem” by The Planetshakers and as I passed them the lyrics of the chorus rang “Hallelujah! You have won the victory! Hallelujah! You have won it all for me!” That night was such a turning point for me as I fell to my knees and surrendered my heart over to the Lord. Everything I had been holding onto for the past 3 or 4 months, I placed at the feet of Jesus and said “My heart is Yours, take it all!”
Over the next few days, I saw the Lord move in the most incredible ways. The more I surrendered, the more I saw Him. Everything started to become clearer as I started the process of healing. I dug into prayer, the Word, and solitude through the rest of the week, getting up early in the morning to withdraw to a quiet place. The pattern we see Christ display in the Gospel of Mark is such a sweet example of this. I read Mark the last time I was in PCB and was encouraged by the way the SON OF GOD would prioritize solitude with the Lord. It has been one of my favorite disciplines, but more specifically while I am at Beach Reach. So much happens over the course of that week every year that I have learned the importance of rising early to begin my day centered in the Word and talking to the Lord. It allows me to look back on what He accomplished the day before and to ask Him to guide my day ahead.
Each day, as I rose to slip away, I saw the Lord peeling away the layers I had built up over those months. Watching Him move through our night-time ministry and pancake ministry I was able to see how He had been moving the whole time through that season. He was using my present to reveal Himself in my past. I saw the Lord move that week through conviction, through crazy answers to crazy prayers, and through salvation. I got to witness multiple people admit their weakness and turn back to the gospel. I saw the Lord move when my group prayed for big things like “Make this party lame and cause people to want to leave” and He responded minutes later as people began leaving the building to see a golf cart as it went up in flames. The greatest miracle, people crossing from death to life, was so overwhelming. Not only were the people we met making this decision, but others in our group from H2O Cincinnati were as well. No matter where I turned, I saw the Lord in all that we were doing and experiencing that week.
Our last night in Panama was the sweet climax to this story. We began our night the same way we began our week, in prayer for the first two and a half hours. The Lord was breaking my heart this night for a lot of things. I ended up weeping on the floor of a gazebo. I was broken for the lost, for my family and friends who do not know Jesus. I was burdened for the body to look more like Christ. I was yearning for heaven and looking forward to my days ahead in eternity with Jesus. It was a crazy mix of emotions, and it all kind of hit me at once. It’s been almost a month and a half since that moment, and I still feel the urgency from that night. The Lord has used that moment to put me in a sweet place of surrender. Through all of that I had come to realize that I spent the last few months trying to fight on my own. I wept in the fetal position on the floor of this gazebo for about an hour. My sweet friend ended up finding me and sat and prayed with me. She listened as I shared my heart with the Lord and held me as I wept over the urgency of the lost needing to be found. She rejoiced in my yearning for heaven and prayed with me for our church to walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ.
Since PCB, I have seen the Lord answer all of my prayers, slowly but surely. I felt Him encouraging me to share my convictions with others and was so overwhelmed when I realized He had been pressing into my friends in the same way. I have seen so much of who He is over this past month and a half. In all of my conversations, in all of my interactions, I see Him working. Pruning is never easy, but it is such a beautiful process to witness. Even in my own life, it has been hard, but the Lord has given me a heart of thankfulness in this season and I can only give Him praise for bringing me to such a sweet space with Him.
I titled this post after the greek word “Kairos” meaning: a propitious moment for decision or action. This trip to beach reach was my Kairos moment. I left PCB in a different place than I had arrived, having experienced the Lord in a whole new way. This moment will forever shape who I am and have a lasting impact on my walk with Christ.
So if you are still reading this, bless you for hanging in this long. I pray my story can encourage you in some way. If you feel alone in the season you are in, I would love to talk to you, pray with you, and walk with you through it. Or bring you to someone else who can. The Lord has given us all of Him and the body to navigate life with. You are not alone. He is with you, He will sustain you.
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
– Ephesians 3: 14-21