I’m not feeling God’s presence in worship very much these days.
Maybe for some people, that’s not a big deal. But for me, over the last few years, worship has become the most important thing in my life. I have felt more alive, more free, more beautiful and more loved in worship than anywhere else. It completes me. One of my main desires in coming to Bethel was to go deeper with God in worship. And yet here I am sensing His presence even less than before.
Until about seven years ago, I felt nothing in worship except enjoyment for the music itself. Then something shifted. I had times of being filled with the Holy Spirit. And feeling His presence after years of feeling nothing was like a cup of cold water in the desert. Finally, this felt like a real relationship. My heart came alive when I praised and adored and experienced the King of kings. I treasured those new moments of intimacy with God. I felt His favour, His approval and His pleasure. And so I was thrilled to come to Bethel where His presence is known to be so tangible, where people are free to enjoy His presence in extreme ways.
And now, I barely feel Him. And it makes it especially hard that so many around me have dramatic experiences in worship.
People say, “don’t trust your feelings.” Okay, but feelings ARE important or God wouldn’t allow us to experience Him tangibly. Throughout scripture, God has deep emotions and expresses them.
Now, in worship, I feel what Isaiah talked about in chapter 6, when He was taken up into the presence of the Lord: “Woe is me. I am a man of unclean lips.” These days, in worship, I just feel raw and undone.
The other day, I was sitting at the back of the auditorium during worship blinking back tears. Then a song with the words, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty” began. And I realized. I couldn’t sit and feel sorry for myself anymore. I had to stand, raise my hands and give this Holy God, the God of the universe, His due. Because He is holy. And He deserves praise, whether it’s an intimate experience of His presence, or a sacrifice of praise.
I think I’m going to trust that He is doing a new work of worship in me and it’s okay that it doesn’t feel like it used to.