How Does Your Garden Grow?

Happy chaos, that’s what it felt like.  Like a family gathering complete with eccentric uncles.  People milling about, eating.  Guys playing Bob Marley tunes on a variety of instruments.  We had more people than chairs.  “If you’re under 30 then you can sit on the floor!”

Don't worry, bout a ting, cause every little ting, gonna be alright!
Don’t worry, bout a ting, cause every little ting, gonna be alright!

“How many of you are part of Barnabas Group or Moving Mountains Prayer Group?”  Hands raised.

” How many of you pray at the Vine regularly?”  More hands.

“What about Prayer Truck?”  Almost all the hands were up now. “Yeah – Prayer Truck!” someone shouted.

“And our weeks of 24/7 prayer?” Every hand was up.

GOHOP takes many shapes and forms.  Different configurations of different people in different parts of the city.  It’s a bit like what Urban Monastic Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove calls a rhizome – a weedy plant that spreads underground and pops up in different locations.  We decided, once a year, to gather everyone in one place, take a look at how the garden is growing, and to give thanks.

The weedy, happy bunch...
The weedy, happy bunch…

There is much to be grateful for.  At one point in the evening, we planted seeds in small pots, and added tags with reflections of gratitude for what God had planted in us through GOHOP.

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The pots now grace the windowsill in the prayer room, and they have begun to sprout!

We ended the evening with the Great Thanksgiving (using a hand drum as a table, cause hey, that’s how we roll!)

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Let me go early into the vineyards and see whether vines have budded, and pomegranates are in bloom.  There I will give you my love.”  ~ Song of Solomon 7:12

My Second Most Embarrassing Worship Leading Moment, or Neurotic, Part 2

I’m lying face down behind the stage backdrop curtain.  My heart is pounding.  My spirit is heaving and churning.  The burden feels intolerable.  Either I have to release the song that’s rolling around my spirit, or I have to leave the building.  That’s all there is too it.   I feel like a woman in labour, and it’s time to push..

I’m at a national prayer gathering in the late nineties, a member of one of the worship teams assigned to the event.  There are three such teams, waiting in reserve beside the stage.  The event leaders want us all available, so they can call up whichever team the Holy Spirit wants to lead at a given moment.

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It is the last day of the event, and a song I had recently written starts to rattle around inside of me, with increasing intensity.  Things amp up and up in my insides, to the point where it feels the Spirit is blowing inside me with gale force winds, to the point where I start to feel a bit out of control.

Thus the faceplant behind the stage.  It is the least embarrassing place to wrestle it through, I think.

The conference starts to wind down, and miracle of miracles, our team is called to the stage.  Finally!  This is the moment!  I can sing the song and release what I’m carrying in my spirit.   I peel myself off the floor, leap up to the stage, sling on my guitar, and step up to the microphone, poised and ready.  Yes!

Suddenly, the conference leader changes his mind.  And gestures to me to leave the stage so another team can finish the event.

I stand there for a moment, before hundreds of people, stunned and embarrassed.  I can hear my flesh screaming, but I know what I have to do.  It takes everything in me to step back from the mic, unsling my guitar, and slink off the stage.  As I pass the worship leader  who is replacing me, I have a snarky moment where I remind The Lord that I’m a better singer than she is.  The moment passes, and I place a hand of blessing on her shoulder as I pass.

I step off the stage, God says very clearly to me. “You do not have the spiritual authority to send these people out.  She does.”

I am devastated and humiliated.  I don’t understand.  Wasn’t that song rolling around in me all day long so I could sing it, release it over the people?  I walk away from the event confused and deeply discouraged.

It took me a few years, and a bunch of training on prayer, to figure it out.  What I didn’t realize was that I had actually been in intercession all day, burden bearing for the conference, and releasing in the spirit whatever grace and anointing the song carried.  I wasn’t supposed to sing it publicly, I was supposed to birth it privately through travailing prayer.

Curious what song it was?  The title track to Make My Life a Prayer.  You can download it from itunes if you like. ;o)