Trusting He Will Come - A Reflection Of Our Faith
The prophet Isaiah writes in Isaiah 65:24 (ESV), "Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear." I love this promise. While Isaiah declares the coming of Christ, the renewal of all things, and the judgement of all wickedness, he speaks a promise of a God who is so engaged with his people that even before we call out, he is responding. It becomes a beautiful picture of worship and what we are permitted to expect when we call on him.
From my younger experiences in church worship, I was taught that the Holy Spirit only came sometimes. This was a notion that I furiously fought back against. I had experienced God's sweet presence so many times in worship and people's seemingly careless regard for worship was enough to send me walking out of church service with a growing bitterness in my heart. Whatever happened to a God who hears us "while we are still speaking?"
It is too easy to blame our lack of power and presence in worship on the Holy Spirit. In reality, not experiencing God in worship only reflects shallow/immature faith or the presence of sin. I know this may sound harsh and straightforward but when you look at the incredible provision of grace in Christ it is only a small standard for faith. Of course if God's promise was limited then I could understand why we would believe that he just doesn't show up sometimes. But that's not his promise at all.
My worship completely changes when I can mature from simple mindedness to full assurance of faith that when I come to worship, he hears my voice and is present.
If we don't believe that God is present even when we don't feel him powerfully it becomes really easy to call it quits early or give up completely on presence.
Asking and Waiting
Many times we forget to even ask God for his presence in worship. We blaze through a worship set and walk away discouraged because we don't feel like God did anything in those moments. Yet how easily do we jump into worship and prayer (especially through music) and forget to invite the Holy Spirit? Its not that God needs permission to be present, but that our hearts to be reminded to engage in his closeness.
Other times we don't wait. Over the last week I helped lead worship for The Call youth conference and following one of the evening services our team stayed up and worshipped together for about an hour and a half. In those moments the presence of God became more and more evident. My diagnosis for this closeness? Asking and waiting. During this spontaneous worship I sang out "we're not going anywhere" as a prayer establishing our faith in God's presence. In a culture that is always on a time crunch it is counter-cultural to sit and wait in prayer with no agenda but to be with the Father.
The Value of Presence
A final word on presence. We don't seek out presence for sensationalism or spirituality. We seek out presence because we truly believe that when we are close to God he speaks. We truly believe that his presence changes us to be holy like he is holy. Until we grasp that we cannot live out our faith without his presence and abiding Spirit, we won't have the urgency to truly seek Him out. But once we begin to taste and see his goodness and love, we can never get enough!