Practiced in His Presence - S&U Excerpt

I turn my face to a blazing sun Your glory falls, Your Kingdom comes I was leading worship years ago the day the church had a guest speaker I highly respected.

When I lead worship, most of the time my eyes are closed. So I didn’t see the speaker come on the stage and stand next to me. He gently touched my arm. He had a microphone and looked like he wanted to share. I brought the song to a close. At first I thought he would have a word from God for the church, but as he spoke I realized he was talking to me.

“I would like you to take your guitar and step down off the stage,” he said kindly. As I did this, he continued. “Now turn your back to the church, face the front.” I complied. “Now worship.” I looked at him, a little confused. He smiled reassuringly and said, “Pretend we aren’t here. Worship the way you do when you are at home by yourself.”

I began to play. At first I was a little uncomfortable, I could feel the people looking, waiting. I pressed through. I began to praise God in song while playing a random chord progression. I praised Him for His goodness; I thanked Him for His love and for my wife and my new baby girl. At some point I actually forgot about the two hundred people behind me. Just like when I am alone in my living room, God’s presence became real to me. I worshiped this way for about ten minutes. I forgot the people; it was just God and me. I started to sing a song, “I am standing in Your presence on holy ground.”

As I began to sing this song, the band, still onstage, joined in. Then the two hundred people behind me joined in. That song led to another and another until we had worshiped forty minutes or so. It was a sweet time, one of my fondest worship memories to date.

When we finally came to a resting spot, the speaker was back onstage. He looked directly at me and said, “You can only take people where you have already been. If you go first, you will stir those around you to hunger for a greater revelation of God.” A greater love encounter. “You must be practiced in His presence.”

Every one of us has a promise that is way bigger than we can imagine. It’s a promise that isn’t just for us but for the world we live in. This promise isn’t found on a stage, it’s not about a title; our promise is birthed in the heart of God and is encountered in His presence.

God is looking for men and women who are not worried about being on a stage—those who aren’t seeking titles but instead are seeking His presence. We can’t take people where we haven’t been. We can’t give what we don’t have.

We must be practiced in His presence. We must know how to worship when no one is looking so we can worship where everyone can see.

David killed the bear and the lion while shepherding in obscurity before he killed the giant in a crowd. David experienced and demonstrated who God was while alone in his “living room” before he ever experienced and demonstrated who God was before a national stage.

For David, it was never about a stage, it was about the presence, and because of that, he was a king long before he wore the crown.

This is an excerpt from Surrendered & Untamed, A Field Guide for the Vagabond Believer. Baker Publishing 2011