I recently attended a large conference in Kansas City. The ‘One Thing’ has been a New Year staple for nearly twenty years, but this year was my first time. My mentor had brought me to tears when she lovingly invited me to take advantage of the extra ticket she had.
This year was somewhat different from what I have been told. 35,000 men and women of Christ had decided to gather with no agenda whatsoever and see what direction the Holy Spirit moved them in. There was no theme or guideline for speakers to address, only a microphone and an amphitheater packed to the rafters.
Over one thousand members of the Chinese underground church were in attendance, including the lovely couple sitting to our right. At one point, someone in charge decided it would be a good idea to have the members of the underground church assemble in front of the stage and sing a hymn in Mandarin.
My heart was not ready for what happened next.
The most beautiful sound opened up across Bartle Hall and the voices of the saints filled the air. At one point I was sure I could hear heaven singing along. It didn’t matter if I could not understand the words, because I knew that my Jesus was being glorified in the most beautiful way. There were tears spilling down the cheeks of 35,000 strangers who had just become family.
An elderly woman stepped up to the microphone with a translator and began to pray for those in captivity that very moment. She prayed for release, for healing, for broken bones to be set right, and when she could no longer pray, she wept with all the fervor of a mother weeping for her child.
And we all wept with her.
I realized I had never felt such a Presence from the Holy Spirit since the moment I had given my life to Christ. I thought to myself, this must be what heaven feels like. It was beautiful, heart wrenching, and no one had a plan.
As my mentor gently prodded me for a summary of what had just happened on the drive home, I had no words to give. It just was. When the Holy Spirit invades your space, it sometimes speaks without words, and without meaning; bringing healing to a heart you didn’t know was broken.
I am a planner. I have been my entire life. My greatest fear when I have a small get together at my home is that an awkward silence would permeate the gathering and forever ruin my hosting dreams. I was once deeply embarrassed when a friend asked me to take over leading their bible study for one night because they had the flu. Flustered and unprepared, I bumbled my way through half of the study, only for someone to realize I had completely missed the discussion questions, inconveniently located at the back of the chapter.
I can only imagine how my despair would have been quantified if the small bible study was a gathering of 35,000 people from all over the world!
But I wonder how things might have been different if I had been in charge at the conference?
Would my death grip on the details have let in enough room for the Holy Spirit to flow through?
And what bothers me more: how many times my perfectionism has led me to completely miss the Presence in everyday life?
I want to be Holy Spirit led, and that can’t happen if I am unwilling to let go of the reigns and be led.
So my New Year resolution for 2019 is to allow it to be a little messy from time to time, and to realize that sometimes the awkward silence is just a moment for mindfulness and reflection on the goodness of God.
Can you guys pinpoint a moment where God completely caught you off guard?
Are there moments of your day that might better be left unscheduled to allow the Spirit to move in your life?