The Polite Conversationalist
God is real and alive. He longs to communicate with us, not compete.
I’ve been in countless worship settings and had many opportunities to go on retreats and conventions to learn more about Christ, hear from Him and experience His presence in different places. I often go with expectation. Expectation for God to reveal Himself to me in a new way, and for me to be transformed by the experience as a whole. Often times things do not go as planned or expected.
The air was warm and the night was quiet. I could faintly hear the sound of the lake lapsing against the rocky shore and the distant voices of rambunctious campers retreating to the mess hall for a late night snack. I had to walk. I needed to walk and talk with Him and I needed to listen. I didn’t know where this walk was going to take me, or for how long I would be away, but my feelings of alienation and unfamiliarity needed to be addressed. Never the less service was about to begin.
Following the sermon and just before the band began to play, I prayed a quick and earnest prayer. I asked God to give me depth and understanding. I asked Him to show me His faithfulness and help me to understand His grace. And I asked Him to remove any and all distractions. The worship band played their set and the evidence of His Spirit’s descent was clear, almost tangible. I remember simply standing. Not singing. My hands weren’t lifted and my eyes weren’t closed. I was immobile. Disengaged. Out of place, yet oddly comfortable. Never before had I felt so out of place amongst my closest friends and out of place in God’s presence. It was only after this moment that I realized that He was preparing me to be spoken to. Music, peers, and personal thoughts were all distractions He was not willing to compete with.
The camp grounds were dimly lit, and the dark summer night was the perfect cover for me to slip away unnoticed for the walk that I desperately needed. I was confused. I didn’t know why He would allow me to feel that way during worship. Why didn’t I simply experience His presence in that moment the same way everyone else did? Why did I feel so different all of a sudden? And why did I feel like He was no longer listening to me? We can only ask so many questions, and bring so many petitions before Him until He answers. My walk in solitude began at a quick, anxious pace. I didn’t even make it 30 feet away from the chapel before the tears began to fight their way from behind my eyes and in that moment, the still, quiet voice of God spoke to me. It was only after I had stopped talking and thinking, that he began confirming all that was taught in the message. My mind was literally being transformed by His truth. He allowed me to understand that His love and grace go far beyond my sin and comprehension. My pace slowed and I wiped my eyes. I was eager and attentive for what was being spoken over the duration of my walk. I had made it to one of the shower facilities where I let out a cry of thanks. God had proved Himself faithful to answer my requests, just as I had asked, and wrapped me in His loving arms. He was alive to me in that moment. I could close my eyes and feel Him standing there, embracing me. All doubt and fear was removed in our time alone. When my eyes eventually did open, I breathed in a wave of peace. Calm, all-encompassing peace had fallen on me and I began to profusely thank him. No worship band to excite me and no other distractions to encourage my thankfulness. God answered my prayer and spoke to me. And in that quiet moment of worship and thankfulness I gained respect for moments like these. Moments of solitude.
God is real and alive. He longs to communicate with us, not compete. He is kind and true to His word, yet sometimes we question why He hasn’t answered our prayers, or revealed Himself to us. He doesn’t run our time schedules, nor does He bend to our will. He didn’t interrupt me. He waited until I was finished. Patient and polite. Then there, in the silence, He spoke.