When I was younger, I went to a church where they would raise a hand to praise God and say Amen. I grew up think I would never raise my hand in church because that was weird and it was that person’s way of saying, “Hey you guys! Look at me! Look at me! I’m praising God!”
They would stand and sing hymns from a book, but dancing wasn’t allowed. I was even yelled at once for dancing to music on the radio while I was waiting in a room of the basement at church! The lady stormed into the room and told us that God didn’t like dancing. She furiously unplugged the radio and took it from the room. We sat in silence, bored out of our minds!
Lord, how my faith has changed! If the me back then could take a journey in time and see the me now, I am so different, I don’t think I would recognize myself! At my church, I sometimes think I might be the wildest praiser there! And I don’t care!
A few weeks ago, I went to a convention named The Call. I went to see Todd White. I was so excited! He’s basically my favorite pastor out there. But once there, my eyes were opened to a whole new way to praise. It felt so alive and spiritual! It was like nothing I had ever experienced before, and now I can’t help but miss it! It was one weekend that changed my life!
But I am getting ahead of myself. A few weeks before that, I was at work, entering info on my computer. I listen to a lot of Christian music and sermons during that time to keep my mind from wandering. That day, I was listening to some music that got me right in the heart. And I had a vision, which is kind of like a daydream, but in some respects, different. I was walking with a sea of people. It was so packed, we were shoulder to shoulder. We moved as one because there was no other way to move. Suddenly, there was a bright flash of light before me. I turned my head and covered my eyes with my arm. When I opened my eyes, everyone was gone. Every single person. I was alone in what looked like a beautiful desert. I looked forward to see what that flash was, and there stood Jesus. The light shining from His face kept me from seeing Him, but I knew it was Him. I began to cry and tell Him, “I’m not worthy to be here! I’m not worthy to be in your sight!” I fell to my knees, face in the sand, and began to cry harder.
I love you, Jesus, but I’m so not worthy!”
I felt a hand on my shoulder and heard Jesus say, “Rise, my child. You have passed the test.” I didn’t realize it had been a test. I stood up, and saw everyone that had been there before, but now more spaced out. Each one doing something different. Some were kneeling, arms in the air. Some danced and twirled. Some jumped and yelled. I looked at Jesus wondering what was going on.
“You were born to praise me, but each of you were created differently. Each of you reacts in a different way. You must always stay true to how you were created to praise. Never base your praise on how others around you praise, and never stop your praise because of other’s reactions to your praise.” So, I had praised in earnest, and that was how I had passed my test. I learned not to care how others viewed me when I worship God.
I had a few weeks to process that and totally digest it before I went to The Call. One of my girlfriends brought her flags there so she could dance with them, if she was able to. We’d danced together with flags before, and I’d felt their power and how they help to communicate our worship to God. But these people were on a whole other level! They were speaking in tongues (something my church had never done) and they were doing something called Laughing in Spirit! THIS intrigued me! It was crazy at first. It started out as one person, rolling on the floor laughing. Then, the person next to them, and then a few people more. Soon, it was like a wave that went through the crowd. You could see the progression as it moved all through the stadium. It was unbelievable! And the feeling that came with it was almost palpable. I could feel Holy Spirit think in that stadium! There was joy and an overflowing…. something that I just couldn’t name! I felt drunk on it. I swayed and trembled. I fell to my knees and prayed that God would show me more. Help me to get some of whatever it was they had! Help me to understand what was going on and to maybe rise up another level to be closer to Him. I prayed that if He wanted me to speak in tongues, I was ready and willing! A short while later, my tongue felt think and dry. I tried to speak, but words came out strange. I stood and danced like I had never danced in church. I felt amazing!
The next morning was Sunday and my friends and I decided to go to a church called Bethel Cleveland. I was nervous because I’d heard so much about the Bethel in California, but I was also very excited. This service was so opposite of the church I had grown up in. It was loud and people danced in the front, in the aisles, at their seats, wherever they were! Some cried out, and some laid down. It was very alarming, but it would have been more so, had I not just been at The Call the day before. I went to the front, attracted like a moth to a flame, and I was the most tame one up there! I looked around at everyone with glee. THESE were my people! These people were doing what I had felt in my heart and in my mind all along. I just didn’t know how to express it before. I didn’t know if I was allowed to at my current church. I felt so at home there. I wanted more!
It has been about a month since I was there, and I can see a total change in how I worship now. I swayed to the rhythm before, raised my hands and called it dancing. Now, I don’t do the dancing my heart longs for, but I feel a shift at my church, and I feel like there will be a day when that is welcomed. But I am definitely more active in my worship. I feel it more vibrantly and I don’t care who is watching! It’s not for YOU to see, but for my Father, Abba, to see! He is my King, who sits on His throne, as I dance before Him, to entertain Him alone. I get so much more from my worship now. I feel so much closer to Him. I still haven’t spoken in tongues, but I will, I’m sure, in time.
I was recently listening to a sermon, and the pastor was talking about the meaning of “Worship.” We worship God to become closer to Him, for intimacy. What intimacy really means is IN TO ME SEE! How amazingly true that is!