Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is Freedom!
This week's blog is written by Hannah who has was a student on AST this year:
When I think about my last year at the Academy, it’s difficult to identify just one way in which God used the experience to bless me. I learnt what it truly means to help create and be a part of a culture that values honour, in releasing life by glorifying God and recognising the value in myself and in others; a culture that values authenticity and community without ‘masks’; a culture that loves to be generous in receiving, enjoying and releasing God’s abundance and a culture that encourages one another to live a life of faith and courage, expecting God’s goodness and overcoming fear.
As a result of this environment, where I once held back, I began to take risks, safe in the knowledge that God would be there to see me through and that this new family were championing my efforts and taking risks too. I found myself choosing to step out into the unknown, assured of God’s proud and unconditional love for me and excited to discover new depths of His faithfulness and the fruits of my actions.
In the first term He transformed my life by healing me from depression and anxiety. For ten years I had lived taking medication, had regular counselling, psychiatric appointments and each part of my day was carefully organised to avoid any danger of becoming even more unwell. I felt defined by my illness and viewed by others as if it were the sum of my parts. Then, in His wonderful goodness, He surprised me with a freedom that I hadn’t dared to dream of or imagine. There are so many more stories I could tell but ultimately, be it a life-changing or seemingly small experience, the truth of God’s goodness was revealed and it transformed my heart.
In the book Naturally Supernaturally by Wendy Mann, she writes as if she were me! She talks about a community where she witnessed that “there was the powerful corporate expectation that God was going to be good. When you walked into the church it was clear that people did not just believe God was generally good, they actually expected Him to be good to them. It had such a profound impact on me because I knew I was not living with the same expectation. The teaching I heard did not deny that bad and painful things happen, and I was very aware of people really loving each other and standing with one another through difficult times. What was unique to me was that even though difficult circumstances needed to be walked through, it did not shake people’s foundational belief in a good God and their expectation of His goodness. Unsurprisingly, the corporate expectation of good things from God resulted in exceptional fruit. In order to live a naturally supernatural life, it is so important to have revelation in our hearts about the true nature of God, about who He is and what He is like. This is different to knowing who God is in your head. It is important to really know in the depths of your being that the God you follow is first and foremost a God of love. It is important to know that He is good and cannot be anything but good. Revelation that He is Healer and Saviour and that He is zealous about His Kingdom breaking out all over the planet is crucial. Knowing this truth in your head alone will not be enough.”
My understanding of God shifted from my head to my heart this year. I know His goodness and His love and I have come to expect both as I live with Him and share the same with others I meet. My Father really did use the Academy to supernaturally transform me!