I could feel it in my chest. The pounding of hands and hearts. The music flowing around us, a strong current pulling us to the throne of God. We were all together, held tight in this moment, connecting spirit to Spirit.
He was there, and we could feel Him.
And then it ended, and as the tingle left the air and the students around me blinked at the sudden return to daily life, I found myself wishing we could pause time and remain there for just a little longer.
I’ve felt this before, these times of worship that seem to open the veil between Heaven and earth and let a bit of eternity through. But they always end. Feet shuffle and people stretch, and our thoughts return to homework, schedules and mundane things that seem out of step with the experience we’ve just had.
It can be disorienting. Disappointing.
Because somehow it doesn’t feel quite as significant to worry about my math test on Friday or to ask how a friend is doing.
Why is that?
Why do I sometimes feel like God fades away with the music?
I have a poster on my bedroom wall that lists dozens of names Scripture uses to refer to God, names like Prince of Peace, Almighty and King of Kings. I love connecting with the different aspects of God’s character found in those names, but recently there is one that has stood out: Emmanuel, God With Us.
If this name is true and God is really here with us, it means He is in every detail, in the fabric of every piece of daily life. Which means asking a friend how their day is can be a moment just as bathed in God’s presence as singing at a youth retreat.
And thinking about this reframes my whole idea of worship. Real, honest worship has much less to do with tingly feelings than with recognizing God’s presence in the moment. Every moment.
Moments like listening for redemption in a difficult life story, laughing when my little sister does a silly dance, holding my friend’s hand when her boyfriend breaks up with her. Things like learning from my own mistakes and growing from painful consequences. Drinking a cup of early morning coffee. Accepting help from my parents when my schedule is too much to handle alone. Finding a deep friendship at an unexpected time.
Yes, God’s Spirit is in the music. And this is good.
But worship doesn’t end there, because He is Emmanuel, God with us here, touching every moment and making it holy.