We got in late last night – like 3:00 AM – from the Unleash conference at NewSpring Church in Anderson, SC. My two previous posts were the raw, unedited notes from the two breakout sessions I attended. We also sat in two main sessions with worship and teaching from Perry Noble.
Between the information shared by NewSpring leaders, the worship and the fun time hanging with the 19 folks from Powhatan, it was an incredible 36-hour experience. It’s a whirlwind and it’s an exhausting travel schedule, but I think this was one of the most valuable conference experiences I’ve had in the past few years.
I had the huge privilege of being free to truly worship through the music led by the NewSpring team. Since that’s my primary weekly responsibility at the church, it’s difficult to ever escape the role of “leader” week to week. Even when I’m not leading from the stage, my heart is still engaged in a leadership role as I worship with our home congregation. I’m grateful – it comes with the territory, and I am not complaining. My daily, personal worship is valuable – but a time of pure, unfettered corporate worship is precious to me.
I got that yesterday, and it was good – freeing, focused and pure. It is an overwhelming gift. It is life-changing.
Yesterday these words reverberated through the room:
oh, how he loves us so
how he loves us
how he loves us so
The rhythmic push disappeared; the instruments pulled back and the gauzy film of worship hung in between God and his people. There was a tangible presence in the room – holy, pure, loving and merciful. Indescribable.
we are his portion and he is our prize
drawn to redemption by the grace in his eyes
if grace is an ocean we’re all sinking
heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss
and my heart turns violently inside of my chest
i don’t have time to maintain these regrets
when i think about the way…oh…
I know that everybody walks into a conference like that with a unique set of circumstances. Many folks were wrestling with big issues. We all carry burdens specific to our situation.
Whatever we carry can be radically, supernaturally changed when we open ourselves to complete vulnerability in worship.
I was changed yesterday. I had carried some tension into the room, an underlying issue of estrangement that tinged my comings and goings. Without even seeking it out, God reached into my heart and brought freedom.
I sang with my hands stretched towards heaven, wanting to honor God with my attention and affection. Unexpectedly, I felt a great surge of attention and affection returned back to me. Through these simple lyrics, I was reminded, over and over and over again:
he loves us
oh how he loves us
oh how he loves us
oh how he loves….
All of us. Equally. In light of the cross and the overwhelming, all consuming, unfathomable love of God, our regrets are reduced to simple distractions. My heart was so beautifully broken by grace – a state that offers freedom to seek forgiveness and to embrace reconciliation.
I literally was with Jesus yesterday in a beautifully, heart-wrenching way. I continue to be surprised by the revelation of God. It helps me long for heaven just a bit more each day.