My first three months of 2014 changed everything. I’m not sure what to call this time, a detox; an awakening; a healing; a revelation? Perhaps all the above? No matter what you call it the reality is I found myself face to face with a Jesus I never knew before.
I have been a Christian since I was 19 years old. Most of my journey includes passionately seeking God in some form. There have been ups and downs for sure, but I often find myself hungry for more of God. Over the years I’ve checked all the Christian boxes, and then some. Attending church, reading the Bible, praying, Bible studies, ministry school, volunteering at a Bible camp, going on missions trips, spending 6 months as a missionary in Uganda, being involved in church plants. Let’s also not forget the numerous workshops, conferences and days of prayer all us good Christians partake in.
So what happened 5 years ago in Kansas City that forever changed the way I see God?
It was December 26th, 2013. That day, Lee and I moved out of the house we were staying in, loaded up our little Honda CRV and headed out on a road trip; not knowing how long it would last, or where we would end up. Looking back, I see how Lee and I have always had the nomadic in us. Our first main destination was Onething conference. Put on by the International House of Prayer of Kansas City, or IHOPKC for short, Onething rings in the new year with 25,000+ Christians gathered together for four days of worship and prayer.
My sister and her family were living in Kansas City at the time, completing a six-month internship with IHOPKC. We planned to attend Onething, staying for a few weeks afterwards. Those few weeks turned into three full months. With our sleeping bags, we slept in the living room on two single mattress stacked up, and as I look back all I can do is smile; it was a very sweet time. Maybe that tiny bed was preparing us for van life. Our current bed in the van feels huge compared to that single mattress in Kansas City.
If the stars were made to worship so will ISo Will I (100 Billion X) lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group
If the mountains bow in reverence so will I
If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I
For if everything exists to lift You high so will I
If the wind goes where You send it so will I
If the rocks cry out in silence so will I
If the sum of all our praises still falls shy
Then we’ll sing again a hundred billion times
If you are not familiar with IHOPKC they have been doing non-stop, 24/7 worship and prayer since September 1999. That’s nearing 20 years of a continuous flow of praising God and intercessory prayer. The Global Prayer room is a beautiful thing to experience, and for three straight months that is exactly what I did. Everyday I sat in the prayer room anywhere from 4 to 12 hours. What was I doing? Most of the time it felt like I was just sitting. It felt strange, maybe even wrong. Can I just sit here? Shouldn’t I be doing something productive? Yes I would worship, read my bible and pray, but time would fly by. Looking back, I was being detoxed from striving and doing, and learning to just be still in the sweet presence of God.
Now don’t get me wrong, I know that faith without works is dead, and doing is very much a part of our walk with God. But what I didn’t know at the time is that I needed to go back to square one, learning the beauty and worth of God. That if all I did was sit at His feet and give my whole life to being in His presence, gazing upon His face, well, He is worthy of it all. He is worthy of our nonstop, 24/7 worship going up from every city all over the world and “If the sum of all our praises still falls shy, then we’ll sing again a hundred billion times.”
I was in a season of Psalm 27:4. He became the One Thing I wanted, the One Thing I sought. I literally spent days in His house, beholding His beauty and just meditating in His presence. In that space I began to see Him rightly. My religious thinking was being melted off, and I began seeing this God of wonder like I never had before.
One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:Psalm 27:4
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord
And to meditate in His temple.
Through a series of events I found myself auditing a course at IHOPKC University. It was called Christology 101, and as you can imagine it was all about Jesus. A subject I was surprised to learn, after all these years of being a Christian, I really didn’t know much about. As I sat in that classroom on the first day, the teacher, Stephen Venable, described what he saw as a problem with many Christians in the church. Less than 10 minutes in, I realized he was describing me.
A Shallow Relationship
I was full of passion and zeal for the Lord. Going to church and being fully involved in so many meetings; having the rhetoric, saying things like I’m on fire for the Lord! Then Steven asked a question I will never forget. He said, “sit me down with one of those believers, how long can they tell me about Jesus?” I was stopped in my tracks.
I realized my depth of intimacy with the man Christ Jesus was very limited. While I was so busy doing all the stuff, I had failed to cultivate a relationship with Jesus. It reminds me of God’s warning to the church in Ephesus; “But I have this against you: you have abandoned the passionate love you had for me at the beginning.” Revelation 2:4 (TPT)
While auditing Christology 101, I learned about His humanity, divinity, how those two fit together, and how the disciples came to accept Him as the one true God. My understanding of how He was killed (there is no death in Him), and why He laid down His life was expanded. The more I learned about this amazing man, this God of ours, the more I began to understand His worth, His beauty, and how our God is truly beyond all words.
The Greatest Crisis of Our Time
Steven spoke about how the greatest crisis in our time isn’t the global warming crisis, the economic crisis, or any other crisis you’d first think of. The greatest crisis of our time is that Jesus is not getting the praise He is due. He’s not due this praise because of something good done for you or me, He is simply worthy because He is worthy. Like unconditional love is given… unconditionally. Jesus’ worth is… unconditional. He doesn’t need to earn it or prove it. It’s just that simple, take it or leave it.
A new sense of God’s worth was birthed in me. He is worthy of it all. All of me, all of my life, all of my worship, all of my affection, all of my praise. It is just who He is, HE IS WORTHY!
Sitting in a prayer room all day everyday may not be a super realistic goal. But what I have walked away with is this; whatever season we’re in, whatever God has called us to, we can show up and do it with a heart of worship because He is worthy.
When I sit down to record a podcast or write a blog, thoughts of insecurity come up. Who do I think I am? What do I have to offer? Who will care what I have to say? This intense focus on self and trying to measure my worth by what I produce is never a good idea. Then I remember I do these things not because I am good at them, I do them because He is worthy of it all. This is my worship. This is what I feel He has called me into in this season and I don’t need to prove I am worth something. I do it because He is worthy of all my time and talent.
What opportunities do you find yourself in right now to worship God? What has He called you into that you feel you are not qualified for? What would it look like to approach this area of your life with a heart of worship?
The most beautiful offering of worship we can give God is out of the hard places. And that friends sounds like another blog!