I rolled over and looked at the clock. Not even 3:30am.
I’d felt so spiritually starved the last few days, that the previous night I’d stayed up late reading the Bible. Now it was early morning, and I was still hungry and thirsty, and couldn’t find rest, so I got up and went to read some more.
I have a personal preference of reading the Bible straight through, and I was in Exodus, where Moses was leading God’s people in the wilderness. I got to the part where Moses went up to speak to the Lord, and in his absence, the children of Israel convinced Aaron to make them a golden calf to worship. When Moses came back down and found out what they’d done, he was so mad he threw the tablets down at the foot of the mountain and they broke.
God had engraved these stone tablets with His finger in His own writing. Let that sink in. Moses was bringing a gift like that down to the people, but because they worshipped false idols, that gift was lost. Broken. Can you imagine what it must look like for God’s handwriting to be etched in stone? Etched with His finger?!?!
My daughter woke up, and I got her ready for Sunday service. After dropping her off in the children’s ministry, I went into the main area where worship was already started. We were in a new building, and I was still trying to find where my “spot” would be. I’m one of those people that likes to pick a chair and sit there forever.
But this morning, I felt Holy Spirit leading me to sit on the complete opposite side of the room. So I wandered over, not sure why.
Worship music was already playing, and I set my stuff down and found a spot to move around in the back corner. I had trouble entering into worship. I felt stressed and anxious. I tried to pray in the spirit to get out of my soul, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that the room was negatively charged.
Why was it taking me so long to enter into worship?
I’d been in the spirit at home when I was reading the Word, so why was I struggling now? I started assessing the external circumstances. The worship music, the atmosphere, the people, the new “spot” Holy Spirit had me in. What was going on around me that was keeping me from the presence of God? Surely someone else was to blame.
But as I kept pacing back and forth, I stopped caring about what was going on around me, and I just wanted to feel God’s presence.
“God, where are you? Why can’t I feel you?”
I had a moment where I realized that maybe it was something wrong with me. Here I was looking to point the blame at others, and it was me who was to blame. I’d been stuck in pride and striving and entitlement, and it was keeping me from the thing I really wanted, which was more of God.
I immediately repented. My heart was broken that my own delusion was keeping God from drawing near. I’d been praying in the spirit, looking up at smiling at Jesus, but it took repentance before I could shake that stress and anxiety and frustration.
I went and sat down on the floor, and the moment I did I started crying. I’d been so worried about external circumstances that I’d failed to look inward to see how wicked I was, and how my own pride was keeping God far off. My heart broke that I wasn’t exhibiting the character God wanted me to have.
“God, please humble me. All I want is to feel Your presence.”
Suddenly, I felt the atmosphere around me shift. I was still crying, but I felt God’s presence around me, and it made me cry more. In His presence, I was made aware of just how screwed up we are, and how we fail Him time after time, yet STILL He loves us so much. He is so so so merciful. I wept, because I felt so unworthy, and yet He loved me anyway. Repentance brought Him up close, and His presence seemed to cleanse me.
And there was a moment, as His love was pouring over me, that it felt like we were face to face in the spirit. I couldn’t see His face, but I felt that He was so close that His face was inches from mine. I felt fear and trembling, but I still felt the profound love He had for me as His daughter.
His goodness reminded me that I was nothing without Him and His love transformed me. My pride burned up in His presence. What did I have to be prideful of?
I went home that day, and picked up in the Bible where I left off. It was when I got to Exodus 33 that I started crying again.
“It came to pass, when Moses stood at the door of the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshipped, each man in his tent door. So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.”
Satan was created by God to worship Him, yet he was kicked out of heaven like a bolt of lightning for his pride. Yet Moses was known for his humility, and he was able to talk to God face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.
Today our apostle and fathering leader preached that God cannot exist where He’s not worshipped. Man doesn’t design or define worship, but we release the worship that God creates. Sin kept me from Him, but my repentance opened the door to His presence. It was His presence that produced real worship in me.
A heart of repentance opens up doors to encounters. Be so hungry for His presence that your heart breaks when He’s not near and you’ll do whatever it takes for more of Him.