Right. Some people may not like/understand/agree/blah blah blah with this entry, but I feel like I need to write it. So if you don’t like God stuff, you might want to stop reading.
I had an awesome time at church tonight. Not just an ordinary Sunday evening. Probably one of the most intense services (from my point of view) that I’ve been to at Vineyard.
I went feeling pretty crap, having only just completed my application form for the job and having done much none of my preparation for tomorrow, let alone the rest of the week. I was getting pissed off with being me again.
So church started off in its usual way, with some praying and singing led by the band. Right from the start I felt like it was going to be a special night, I guess when you come feeling “broken” you engage with God better or something. Anyway, I got really into the worship, but was still feeling quite self-conscious (that’s the extrovert in me). So I spent quite a long time with my eyes closed singing the songs as I knew the words. Then during the song:
“Nothing is as lovely,
Nothing is as worthy,
Nothing is as wonderful
As knowing you”
I had a real sense that God was close, so much so that I stopped being able to sing (well, that assumes I can in the first place, but this I lost my breath not that I sang out-of-tune). It was amazing, my whole body felt like it was being squeezed, but not in a violent or painful way. I knew God was doing something. The usual odd tear dripped down my face (I seem to do that a lot these days, maybe I’m getting more emotional), and I just worshipped God for who he is. Cool.
So that would have made for a pretty good night, but nothing too note-worthy in the grand scale of things. Then John (pastor/leader of the church blokey) started his talk. It was on Ephesians 1:15-18, at least loosely. He talked about how the passage had gone (earlier in Ephesians) from talking about praising God to prayer and asking God for stuff. So point 1 — praise comes first — establish who God is and why he’s so good and able to do stuff, before you ask him to do stuff.
Then he went on to talk about us all being “broken” in different ways — for some of us it’s addictions, some it’s anger, some it’s lust, some it’s self–discipline and so on and so forth. We are often caught thinking that we’re the most broken one around and that everyone else must be pretty near perfect. Of course the reality could not be further from the truth — we’re ALL broken and so we’re all in the same boat.
BUT. There is hope!
John noted that it’s becoming quite acceptable, even fashionable, to be “broken” in that counsellors, psychiatrists and the like are being used more and more. (He certainly didn’t belittle their work mind you, just commented on it). They generally encourage us to look “inside ourselves” and the pursuit of self–understanding is what will lead to happiness and better life. But John said that what Paul (the human author of Ephesians) was saying is that the solution is not primarily to know yourself better, whilst that is valuable, the top priority must be to know God better. It is only in knowing God better and in His strength that we can straighten ourselves out and even begin to know ourselves well.
Anyway, on to me, since this is my blog after all! My brokenness is, and has been for a long time, around the area of self–discipline. Not in terms of self–control — I’m not too bad at not doing things I think I shouldn’t do. But more in the doing of things I should do and most pertinently WHEN I should do them. Hence the link back to how I was feeling when I turned up at church.
So anyway, I had to go forwards at the end for prayer, and I’d known I’d have to from the start of the talk (which I’m sure John had prepared just for me!!!). And Tom (assistant pastor/leader blokey) came to pray with me. He prayed for me for somewhere in the region of 10 or 15 minutes after I’d explained what was going on. All his prayers were spot on, despite him not knowing me from Adam. He even quoted a couple of Bible verses that have been significant in my Christian life. So that was all cool and many more tears were shed.
So, the result of this —
I need to stop focusing on my “problem” and get on to focusing on God more. I look back to times in my life when I did this and things were generally better in the self–discipline area. I look back and see that God attracted me to Him through worship, so I want to get more into that by myself as a way of getting to know him better.
Erm, I think that’s it.
Oh and me and Tom talked for quite a while after about the opportunities for next year. He thinks I should probably get a part–time NQT job and work for the church or Navs the other days. Hmm… the thought had crossed my mind, but had been rejected thus far really. But watch this space. I’m going to be praying for some doors to open in that respect, but continue looking at full—time jobs as the main focus, so that if something happens I know it’s God. Or something.
Ah, we’ll see.
Oh yeah, the whole thing was real. No doubt in my mind. Sometimes I think it might be me playing tricks on myself thinking stuff, but this was God. No group hysteria (as far as I was concerned it was me and God with Tom doing some talking).
Good to unload.
Night night 🙂