It took me over 10 years to discover that during one event back in May of 2000, I received one of the most significant blessings of my life and ministry. In fact, that one single night would go on to define everything about my Christian journey from that moment onward. And to think, I almost missed its significance and importance! I pray that my story will help you recognize and steward your divine moments.
The Journey of An Unwilling Worshipper
The event took place in a church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Nothing really special about the place. It was not some type of megachurch, conference or revival service; it was simply a night of worship led by a musician from Australia, Darlene Zschech. Little did I know what God was orchestrating behind the scenes. You see, this was all new for me at this point in my life!
I had been a true follower of Jesus for less than a year when I attended the worship event. It was only in the late summer of ’99 where I received a powerful, life-changing touch in God’s presence that supernaturally changed my life. God was no longer a concept to me. He was not distant and detached. Christianity was not some moral code that I needed to adhere to in order to get to heaven and make the rapture. That is how I thought until I encountered His presence.
If you told me back in 1999 that I would be attending a worship event—and actually be excited about it—I would have thought you were insane. My encounter with God was sovereign and supernatural. The Spirit stirred my curiosity concerning the things of God. At the time, I was attending a local nondenominational church that happened to do “contemporary worship.” This involved clapping, slight body movement and upraised hands. All of this was way outside my comfort zone and, to be honest, a little creepy. In fact, I did not consider it a bad thing when I showed up to church late, missing the music, as my heart was hungry to receive the inspiring teaching.
God’s ways are absolutely amazing and surprising. One Saturday night, I showed up at church before worship began. To cut a long story short and bring us back to the worship event with Darlene, I remember very clearly that during one of the worship songs, I felt something in my chest/stomach area—like, physically felt something. It was not bad; it was absolutely glorious. It was like fire. My hands felt a slight but extremely noticeable sensation, like mild electricity. God’s presence started to touch my life. From that point on, I knew that the Jesus in my heart was alive and very near.
Heaven Came Down and Changed Everything
Back to the worship event in Ft. Lauderdale. I knew who Darlene Zschech was (most notably, the writer of “Shout to the Lord,” which my Christian school had been doing in chapel for many years at that point). Interestingly enough, it was also one of Hillsong’s songs, “In Your Hands,” that the worship team was playing during my first power encounter with the Holy Spirit. Since that moment, I started listening to their music—and absolutely loved it.
Even so, nothing in this world could have prepared me for what I experienced during that night of worship. I came to that event hungry for God and left hungrier than ever. I stayed for both services, as I just could not get enough. There were moments of high worship, where I felt like my physical body could not bear any more of His glory. I am not talking about a flutter in my heart, a tear trickling down my cheek or a smile on my face. No. The mighty presence of God came crashing down on me like heavy waves. Heavy. That is the only word I can use to describe the climate of that atmosphere. Surely the priests of old knew it well. When the glory came, they could not “stand to minister” in that weighty presence of God (2 Chr. 5:14, NASB).
Just when I thought there was a moment of relief, another wave came. I was getting gloriously pummeled by His presence and absolutely relishing every single moment. Wave after wave reminded me that He is alive. He is not religion. He is not a theory. He is not a Bible class. He is not a program. He is not platitudes and spiritual sayings. God Almighty is alive and moving and, yes, graces humanity with special moments like this where He manifests His presence in a specific location.
Something awakened in my heart during that event. A desire. A longing. A hunger. An unquenchable thirst. I must have more. At all costs, I must press in to experience as much of His presence as possible this side of heaven.
Your desire for more is absolutely legal. When we encounter these waves of His presence, with each one crashing over us with greater love, intensity, strength, power, joy and glory, each wave gives us a greater glimpse of greater glory and summons us to greater hunger. This is exactly what happened to me that night in Ft. Lauderdale.
But of course, life went on …