We had an incredible time of worship tonight at my church. It was one of those nights where after you go home, you still feel the “residue” of the presence of God all over you. It’s one of my favorite feelings in life…sitting in bed in the stillness of the night after the crowds have dispersed and feeling like I’m completely covered in the “oil” of God’s presence. I think Martin Smith of Delirious? perfectly captured what I’m feeling in the song Obsession as “sometimes You’re closer than my skin.” This is one of those “sometimes.”
My pastor shared what he felt God was saying prophetically to our church: that we were to stop standing and start running into and after God. The “perseverance of pursuit” is what he called it. As the worship pastor of our local body, I chew on stuff like this since I want our leaders and teams to be “in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-26). Here’s some thoughts:
1. Running into God’s arms vs. Staying in God’s arms.
There are many factors outside of loving God that can cause us to run to Him. Proverbs 18 speaks of the name of the Lord as a strong tower and the righteous RUNNING into it. We can run into God because we seek shelter or there is trouble. Nothing wrong with that, but when the storm’s over alot of us leave the tower. Running into God’s arms is one thing; staying there is another thing. Staying in God’s arms is an issue of intimacy. And for real intimacy to occur, there needs to be love. And any of you that are striving for a healthy marriage know that intimacy needs to be intentional. Time needs to be carved out. Dates need to be planned. Habits need to be formed. And for those of you that are still single, realize now that cultivating habits of intimacy with God will prepare you unwittingly for cultivating intimacy with your spouse. Much of the time, it isn’t the act of intimacy that ultimately brings health to the relationship, it’s the time taken leading up to it. Should we run after God? Absolutely. But once you get there, stay there. That leads me to:
2. Seeking sucks unless you actually find what you’re looking for.
God’s heart is to reveal Himself. He may not always do so according to our timeline, but He does WANT to be found. This is where perseverance comes into play. It’s another shade of loving God because love always perseveres (1 Cor. 13). However, we often seek the wrong thing when looking for the right result. Case in point: I used to live my Christian walk with a videogame mentality: always trying to go to the “next level.” The problem was that was way too mechanical and structured when it came to my relationship with God (or anyone, really). “Next level” concepts certainly apply to the church or productivity because in those cases progress is measurable. But in my relationship with God, I’ve NEVER had the feeling I’ve arrived at another level…our relationship is too fluid. So what I’m saying is that just because you don’t “feel” you haven’t hit the next level, don’t lose heart or grow weary in doing well. When I finally ditched the “next level” way of relating to God, it was then when I felt Him ask me “even if you never found me, would you still seek me out of love?” I kept seeking and in doing so I found that when I looked back, I grew alot even though I never felt it. Progress isn’t the main motivation, love is.
Here’s some worship music I listen to in those “closer than my skin” moments you might enjoy (title – artist/album). These are all available on iTunes.
- Always Forever – Phil Wickham/Phil Wickham (self-titled album)
- Worthy Is the Lamb (feat. Brian Johnson) – Bethel Live/Here Is Love
- When You Walk In – Kent Henry/A Greater Glimpse (if you go to our church, you should probably get this album =)
- Where I Belong – Kent Henry/A Greater Glimpse
- You’re Everything – David Crowder Band/Can You Hear Us?
- Take My Heart – Misty Edwards/Fling Wide
- Obsession – Delirious