Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ministry, Music and Me

It's crazy to think that it's been 8 years since I first stepped foot on the Willmar HS campus for Sonshine but man it's been a good ride. A lot of fun memories over all those mid-July weeks but this one may just be the best so far.
Believe it or not I really didn't think I was going to go until about a week before the festival. Things just weren't falling into place the way I thought they should, but praise God, He's not limited by my thoughts. Then everything did fall into place, all the minor details that I was holding onto as necessary for me to go happened and I went.
But I went with a twist. God had been prodding me for a few months that I should go, use what He has been teaching me and just intercede for the festival. All He said to do was make a sign and put it up in my camp site. In my thought process that seemed far to simple, so I was resistant at first but just like so many other things this summer I let go and did what He asked.
When I began to walk after God in that direction I realized that all the difficult things that had been going on in my life for the few weeks prior were preparation for what was to come. In a very real way I became relevant to my generation again. I hadn't gone through many rough times lately and it made me sort of irrelevant to this generation that suffers through so much crap all the time but God, in His providence allowed me to know the anguish that so many deal with far more regularly.
On Monday and Tuesday in the time before and after work I made the signs. My original intention was to use ply wood, but realized that I had an endless amount of cardboard at my disposal. So I cut a piece up and wrote my message "Need pray?" in big letters and "ask the guy with the beard" beneath it in smaller writing. The cardboard that I had cut was big enough for two signs so I did it twice.
My friends from school that work at KC saw what I was doing and got real excited about it. It blessed me greatly and really confirmed that I was doing the right stuff. I attached both of the signs to wooden stakes that I acquired.
So after work on Tuesday I loaded up my car and headed to Willmar. I was excited about the time there and nervous about how everything was going to play out. I hadn't heard from really anybody regarding the festival this year and was going on the assumption that I would be kicking it by myself for the duration of the festival. I kind of wanted that to happen just so that I could really hone in on what God was trying to say and do.
With all the preparation I was making I just knew this was going to be a very different kind of experience for me and yeah that proved itself right from the start. I have had the same exact camping spot for the last five years and was expecting for the same to be this year. Well I pulled up and saw that it was already occupied, but it didn't bother me too much, I just took it as a fresh start. I set up my screen house across the path, ironic because that was usually where people had camped who weren't seeking God very sincerely. The first of the blessings in disguise.
After being in Willmar for a bit some younger Hillcrest guys showed up and pitched their tent by me. The first evening was over pretty quickly and I decided to go to bed. Adding to the differences this year, instead of bring a tent and I slept in my car. It was mostly just because of the hassle that a tent can be but it was another major blessing in disguise, more about that later.
I woke up around 6:30 and took the morning hours to just read my bible and pray. I knew that if I wasn't intentional about my time with the Lord, my prayers would lack the fervor and authority that I needed to walk in.
I spent most of that day just relaxing, settling in to the festival atmosphere and just watching people roll in. It was good because it gave me a lot of time to just meditate on the word and pray. With all the time I got to think and got a little bit discouraged because people weren't coming up. It was only the first day and people were still settling in so I just fought off the discouraging thoughts.
I went to hear Lecrae that evening and man I wasn't disappointed! His message and every thing about this set was giving glory to God. Sounds odd to say that being that I was at a Christian festival, but a lot of the artists don't lay it down like he did. I was thinking about staying to watch Switchfoot, but I felt the tug to go back to my campsite. Once I got there I just sat down and did some prayer. Before too long a guy came up and asked me to pray for him so I did. That marked a string of about 5 people in an hour who came up with prayer requests. God took the doubt in me and flipped it for faith and joy.
The most encouraging part of the night was when two young ladies walked by and expressed their appreciation for what I was doing then walked away. Well they didn't get very far, because after walking about 10 - 15 feet they stopped. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the physical expression of their conversation about whether they should come back and talk to me more. Well they followed the Spirit's leading and came back and prayed for me. It was really encouraging and really funny to see how He was working in others.
See one of the things that I had seen on Wednesday was that God was stirring the festival in prayer and in freedom for the captives. There was a prayer tent for the first time in my memory and a couple people came up to me and said that they had been thinking about doing prayer but decided not to. From those two testimonies I knew that God was going to bless me through my obedience. As for freedom, it was one of the first things that stuck out to me in my reading and it seemed like every artist that I heard speak mentioned it.
I spent half of the night sleeping under a tarp, but the rains came and around 4 am I transitioned over to my car again and was able to sleep til 10. The day was overcast and it just felt like it could start raining at any moment. I spent some time wandering around but posted up at my site for most of the day. A few more people walked by and wanted me to pray for them. It was a pretty uneventful day with another night of rain as the capper. All the rain really made me glad that I hadn't brought my tent, because I probably wouldn't have slept in it but would have had to deal with the mess anyway.
I awoke early again the next morning and spent some time in the word and in prayer. I got in contact with a friend of mine who lived in town. He came and picked me up and we went into town to eat breakfast. I had seen an ad for a breakfast buffet so we header there and yeah I ate for the day. It was really good to hear the things that God had been doing in him over the past year. When I got back to the festival I went to a couple shows in the afternoon but everything was kind of a mud hole so I just tried to stay at my site. I noticed on Friday that the other campsite, where I had been the previous five sonshines was like a nasty swamp while my side of the path was relatively dry. At dinner time one of the leaders from that group invited me over to have dinner with them. He said that he appreciated what I was doing and wanted to hear a little of my story. It was the first time that I recognized that people who weren't necessarily asking for me to pray for them still appreciated me stepping up.
After eating I went to Lincoln Brewster and during his worship set the sky cleared up it turned into a pretty beautiful evening. Each year that seems to happen, there will be a storm but then the skies will clear up as one of the praise leaders comes to perform. I call it God smiling upon His children's praise. Afterward I went back to my camp and spent most of the rest of night relaxing.
Before heading to bed one of the girls from the group across the path said that they wanted me to pray for them at breakfast. I was honored for the request and in the morning did it. Without asking or expecting I got rewarded with another free meal and yeah it was good. I chilled for the rest of the morning and then met up with a few other people for lunch at their camper. It was really crazy because without asking or expecting anything God fed me with three straight really good meals.
Well because of some different things that happened I got tired of being there so I packed up my car and left. I skipped a couple of the bands that I wanted to see, but thought it was wise for me to get back to campus. When I finally got back I understand how much of a mistake it would have been to stay through the shows and drive back late at night because I was wiped out. It also gave me time to start processing  everything.
So that's basically everything that went on while I was there. This generation, this world, is hurting and I was glad that I took the step to follow God in His leading and make a difference, far beyond what I can see or understand.