Sometimes I wonder what strangers must think if they wander into a Church where God is moving in powerful manifestations.
I’m talking about the times when God is meeting with us and working in us so powerfully that it becomes very obvious to those around us that something interesting is going on; the times when we start to laugh uncontrollably, or we start to cry and shake, the times when we fall down or when we scream at the top of our lungs. Most of the time when we meet with God and when he works in us it is in less obvious ways, we have had an experience of God but the person standing next to us wouldn’t necessarily know that. Having said that I have witnessed and experienced all of the above manifestations of God.
I’m really thankful for all of these experiences, I believe in living for God not in living for the big manifestations but, to know God filling me and working in me is a wonderful sensation. To really feel God holding me and protecting me and helping me is amazing. Each of those experiences has achieved something in my life and that is the test of a true meeting with God. When you meet with God you are changed.
My most recent experience of this sort of thing was last Sunday, I experienced a move of God that I have only experienced myself once before in twelve years as a Christian. Because the person I most relied on in the world as a child was my father, his suicide when I was eleven left many scars. One of them was a really powerful anxiety about relying on others that became such an intrinsic part of my personality that I am well known for being uncomfortable when I don’t feel in control. Over the years I have found ways to cope with this and bury it and God has helped me when I’ve had to hand over control at certain times but this summer I gave up control in the biggest way I ever have. I obeyed God in giving up my job without another to go to. I gave him complete control over what comes next and trusted in him to guide me and provide me with what I need. After about a month of unemployment I started to feel a little anxious and this grew gradually and connected in with that deep anxiety that I’d carried for fifteen years since my Dad’s suicide. All this meant that the last few weeks my anxiety reached such a point I have hardly been sleeping and I’ve been having loads of stomach trouble. So last Sunday I woke up about 5 am feeling so anxious I went for a two hour walk on the beach and prayed the whole time trying to calm myself down and I was still a complete nervous wreck when I got to Church a little after ten. God started to meet with me during the worship, he began to reassure me and I felt safe wrapped in his arms but this anxiety was still in me powerfully as well. During the second to last song I started to whimper and shake. I collapsed into my seat as the shaking became so strong I couldn’t move a muscle. I felt hands on my back as several others began to pray for me and right then God pulled a huge amount of really deep-seated long-standing pain out of me and it caused me to scream out right there in Church just as the service was finishing.
God isn’t in the business of hurting us. If you hear people screaming like that, when they’re meeting with God, talk to them later and they will tell you it is God taking pain away. I can tell you the anxiety which was so much a part of me is gone, God has taken it from me and I am so thankful.
Having told that story I feel there are a few more things I really have to say.
God works differently in different people sometimes he’s loud and obvious and sometimes he’s not – I have a friend who came with us to a Christian festival years back where several from our youth group experienced powerful manifestations of God but nothing much happened with her. She had stood through hours of worship meetings with her hands open and palms up praying for God to work in her and we had seen nothing happening so we asked her about it on the last day and she told us about the incredible things God had been doing in her and the pain he had lifted out of her soul all while, as far as we could see, nothing much was happening.
As Christians we are to worship God and live for him, not to worship signs and wonders and live for them. The times when God works in this way are wonderful but don’t be the one longing for the next manifestation but be the one looking to always follow and worship God.
God working in this way doesn’t make you a better Christian, it doesn’t make you holier or mean that God loves you more. God works in many different ways.
Don’t fake anything like this to fit in or because your friends are praying for you or because you want to look cool. It isn’t cool, you look really weird so it’s really not worth faking, especially as it isn’t the shaking or anything else that is doing anything but rather these are signs of what God is doing. If you suspect someone else is faking don’t make a big thing of it, it is better to allow the possibility that some may be silly if that also allows people to have a genuine and powerful experience of God. If some choose to fake an experience it doesn’t hurt you.
What I have described is the rarest experience of this type that I have had – in twelve years as a Christian I have screamed on two occasions, both times when God was removing huge and long-standing pains. I have begun to shake a whole bunch of times and cried even more often. My most frequent experience of God has been to laugh, sometimes loudly and for a long time but often just for a few minutes quietly during worship as God fills me with his spirit and the joy that meeting him brings.
I pray that God would meet with each one of you and that however he chooses to work in you would be a source of joy and faith. I pray that each of us would appreciate the quiet ways that God is at work in our lives every day. I pray that each of us would follow God and look to him for salvation and security.