See if you can imagine the scene:
It was a hot summer night, so hot that in the old Tabernacle they had raised the sides up, they were on hinges so that when it was hot you could prop them open and let the cool evening air into the building. It was an absolutely perfect summer evening, not even any mosquitoes!
Rose and I and April were standing along one side where the walls were propped up and the worship team, which happened to be from NECF that year, were still playing. Many people had left and the worship team was very tired, but there was obviously something special happening, you could just feel it. I should say here that many times in the past I had a hard time really entering into worship. I was often distracted by what people were doing, what they were wearing, how the music sounded or noises or just what was going on in my own life and in my own head, or what the worship team looked like, you name it and it distracted me!
But that night God did something, he gave me a gift, (one of many over the years) that totally changed my concept of worship. Of course I knew intellectually what worship was supposed to mean, that we worshipped God because He asked us to, that it is an important part of our relationship with God and it’s one of the ways that we communicate with Him. Worship is one thing that we can do that we know pleases God. I knew all that, but I don’t think that I really got it, if you know what I mean.
As I said, it had turned into a bit of a marathon worship session and maybe 25 people were still left when I began to sense something happening, it was no longer the same old worship for me in the sense that I wasn’t completely still me. It was the weirdest thing, I felt like I was seeing the worshippers and the worship from god’s perspective. Not completely of course, but I got just enough of a glimpse that I think I gained an insight into just why we are called to worship God in that way.
You’ve probably seen those dramatic re-enactments of near death experiences when the sick person hovers up by the ceiling looking down at themselves? It was kind of like that. I saw the absolutely pure and beautiful faces of the worshippers, without the distractions that would normally cloud things. I could sense the pleasure that God felt as he received and communed with His people. I could see what worship should truly look like and how it was designed to be. It was a truly remarkable and wonderful and beautiful experience and back then I had no idea why I had received such a precious gift.
Of course I told Rose later that night and a few other people at camp, (Rose made me tell) but I have never put down in writing exactly what happened until now. Often we don’t know why God chooses to put people in our path, or why circumstances seem to throw certain people together.
I know that The Alpha Course has brought many special people into my life. God has richly rewarded me through my participation in the Alpha Course in so many ways. It was through Alpha that I was nudged out of the pews, (so to speak) and into a position of leadership through service, and I will always be thankful for that. God could have used anyone to reach out to certain people, but He brought them to me and somehow, despite my weakness and inadequacies he spoke to them and brought them into a relationship with himself. It was such a blessing, and it gave me such confidence to write the eulogy for my dad and to be able to deliver it with faith and compassion. I feel God used even that to reach out to people in my family.
I love God. He loves us all and He wants each one of us to experience fully what it means to be in relationship with Him. That’s why He does these amazing things for us when we just can’t seem to get it on our own. Maybe God showed me that little glimpse of what worship means to him, partly so I could share it with you now. Maybe He wants you to be able to push past whatever barriers prevent you from really entering into the beauty of the full worship experience. I can’t say for sure, all I do know is that I felt compelled to send this out to you!
I wish you all the best, all the blessings that God has for you, all the adventures and all the abundant life that is God’s wish for those who Love Him and follow Him and serve Him. May you be counted among them!
Copyright - Doug Petry