Written by Jason Herbig
Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praise of Israel. (Psalm 22:3, ESV)
There is nothing quite like those moments when you know without a doubt that you are experiencing the presence of God. I grew up going to church. In fact my whole life seemed to be connected to church for nearly all of my childhood – Sunday services, school, social clubs, sports, and surely some other stuff that didn’t start with the letter S. But I can’t say that I ever remember truly experiencing the presence of God until I was in college. I had gone on a spring break mission trip with a campus ministry to impress a girl. The first night of the trip, we had a large group worship time, and as we sang I could sense something in the room that I hadn’t felt before. I looked around at all the other people and could tell by the eyes-closed expressions and raised hands that they were experiencing something I did not understand. From that day on, I developed an authentic desire to seek out the presence of the Lord, to dwell in his house and gaze upon his beauty.
There are a few other high-profile memories in my life of experiencing God in the midst of his people singing his praises. Like the time I lost it at a Willow Creek conference with a one-two punch of the saints around me singing “Let God Arise” and “Mighty to Save” as my heart feared the messy fall out of an ugly staff departure back at my home church. Or my first time at the Experience Conference, where after a depressingly long stretch of dryness and burn-out I rediscovered the presence of God with 1,000+ worshipers around me belting out “Great I Am.” In fact, it was as I processed that moment that God reminded me of Psalm 22:3. And a verse that I once glossed over as a poetic anthropomorphism took on a tangible reality that I will never forget. Even as David laments that God has forsaken him, he reminds himself that God can be found enthroned on, or dwelling in the praises of his people. In my lack of faith, I found God’s presence in the midst of praises. In my fear and despair, I found God’s presence in the midst of praises. In my emptiness, I found God’s presence in the midst of praises.
I’ve come to learn that it is so important for leaders of worship to seek out these moments with God regularly. Moments when we can put down our guitars and our mics and our service plans and just be surrounded by the praises of his people, letting his Spirit fall fresh on us. Tasting and seeing that he is good so that we can draw on those experiences when we lead others. The Experience Conference has become one of those places for me. If you don’t have a place, you should join me there!