So, God rocked me pretty hard yesterday. In a good way, but rocked nonetheless… You can read the whole thing after the jump if you want, but here’s the short version – I had a really potent and acute experience of God’s love and forgiveness. I was sort of pushed out of my comfort zone a little bit, and God showed up in the uncomfortableness. I think it was probably something I really needed, and it was good.
I was at our church’s All Staff meeting, and our afternoon session was a prolonged worship session with a focus on pressing in deeper into God’s presence. To be honest, I’m normally not a very expressive person when it comes to worship. I sing, I clap, I move my body a bit (because I just can’t help it sometimes), and I even occasionally raise my hands in a gesture of surrender or reaching out or whatever.
But I’m not normally inclined towards lots of movement or extra noise, tears, etc. I suppose you could say that my worship is mostly internal, not external. And I wouldn’t say I “hear from God” or anything like that on a regular basis.
So yesterday we’re in this extended worship session, and I’m trying to push myself a little bit in terms of allowing myself to listen to what God might be saying and act on it. I’m sitting with my eyes closed, with my hands open, palms up, on my lap. I’m sitting there, and I’m praying, “Okay, God. What now? I’m listening. I feel dumb. I feel like I’m not as spiritual as other people here in the room who are obviously feeling moved by You. I feel like I don’t really feel anything.” Stuff like that.
In the middle of all of that, I start looking around the room, and I see the cross up at the front of the room. In that moment, I just felt a quiet conviction to go pray in front of the cross. It wasn’t a thunderbolt or an audible voice, but it was a pretty firm thought that went through my head saying, “Go pray at the foot of the cross. That’s simple enough. If you can’t bring yourself to get out of your chair and pray at the cross, you’ll never bring yourself to do anything but sit and sing.”
So I did. I got up and started making my way towards the cross. On the way there I had the thought, “You should kneel at the cross, not just stand there or sit down.” As I approached the cross, I saw one of the guys on our church’s executive team, one of the “big guys” sitting there. I immediately had the thought, “Maybe I shouldn’t do this. He’ll see me and think something’s up, that I’ve got some horrible thing in my life which should mean that I get fired.” Right after that, mercifully, I had the thought, “Well, you’re in too deep now. Better just see this through.”
So I did. I got down on both knees and bowed my head and started praying at the foot of the cross. Mind you, I’m still praying at this point, “Alright God, I did it. I got out of my chair and knelt at the cross. What now?” Well, the answer to the what now was that I started thinking about the cross, thinking about Jesus being on it, and thinking about the sin in my own life. You know, the stuff that put Jesus on the cross a long time ago but that I still can’t get rid of in my day-to-day life. I had been praying that I wanted to feel something from God, and now I had the choice to either push some feelings away or really engage with remorse over my own sin.
So I did. I let the remorse in, and I actually started to tear up. I cannot emphasize this enough – I’m not a very emotionally expressive person. Yet here I was, kneeling on the floor, next to one of the big-wigs at my church, fighting back tears as I contemplated my own sin in the light of Jesus’ sacrifice. Then somebody from somewhere else in the room spoke up and quoted the following from Isaiah 43:
This is what the Lord says – he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
Thunderbolt. I heard those words and was immediately faced with the choice again – push it away or allow the words in and really engage with them.
So I did. I listened and thought about the fact that, even though I was sitting there troubled over my own sin, God forgives and wants me to “forget the former things” and not dwell on the past. I started crying for real. Then someone else from another part of the room quoted these words from Psalm 130:
Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
Thunderbolt. I was literally crying drippy tears out of my eyes and down onto my jeans, my hands, and the floor in front of me by this point. Then somebody from another part of the room spoke up and said, “If there’s anyone in here who needs healing, healing from a sickness or injury or addiction, healing from some sin in your life, come and let’s pray.” I was immediately faced with the choice of staying where I was or getting up and going to have other people pray for me.
But I didn’t. I chickened out. I thought about it for a minute, then went back to my seat. Baby steps, y’all…
The point is that I had an awesome experience of God’s forgiveness yesterday. An awesome experience of his love. The type of experience that I hope and pray everyone has at some point in their life. And it was a really good thing.
Have you ever had an overpowering experience of God’s love and forgiveness? Share what it was like in the comments, if you would be so kind. 🙂