Sometimes we need people to reassure us that we are normal. Sometimes you are so at odds with the people around you that you wonder if there is something wrong with you. At a time when I was surrounded by sweet, gentle, quiet Christians who did not want to upset anything or anyone, just wanted to go to church, pray quietly and have a good time, i had a shout in my spirit, I was thinking spiritual capacity, authority, strength, dominion, influencing society, and at some point I was seriously beginning to feel quite strange, then i heard Ulf Eckman. From then on, i have felt truly normal.
The first time I crossed the threshold of Word of Life church in Uppsala, Sweden, founded by Pastor Ulf (as his parishioners fondly call him), i was hit by the near tangible presence of God in the place. I had never felt it to that degree, and still have not, in any other place in the world. It got my attention; I was desperate to know how a church could be so saturated with the glory of God that even the building carried it. I experienced faith, passionate preaching and worship, great spiritual strength and an absolute and radical commitment to Christ that is rarely seen. I told God later when i returned to Paris that if that church had been in Paris, i may for once not have asked Him if i could go there, i would have gone.
I heard Ulf Eckman speak of something that occurred early in the life of their church. They were 200, and they would worship the Lord at length. One day, the Holy Spirit spoke to him and said ‘I’ll do anything; I’ll give anything to people who praise me like this’. They were, Pastor Ulf said, ‘praising Him like mad, worshipping Him like crazy, like fanatics’, not because they had to, but because they wanted to. As a result the Lord gave them a 4,000 seat auditorium, which they have now expanded to 5,500. And every time he enters the building, (by then he had moved to Israel), God would remind him that « This is made for my worship, i gave it as a present because you love me, and worship me and honour me ». After i heard this i understood why I had felt such a presence of God in the place.
It just messes me up, not because i want a building, even though I do want one, but because i like God to notice my praise, and inhabit my space. I want God to be pleased with the worship of Abba House and our Parakletos conferences. One fellow who visited us once, said to me, ‘Pastor, your sons and daughters are very zealous’. I cannot imagine it any other way. That is what is in our DNA, a people who praise God like crazy, who worship God like mad; i want to see people who forget themselves, and just lose it before God. It is so painful to see believers sitting around casually, looking indifferent when it’s time to praise God. I feel like shaking them and saying, ‘ What is wrong with you, don’t you realise who He is?’
So if you are in a place where people look at you askance or condescendingly as you vigorously celebrate Jesus in unrestrained worship, don’t worry, you are normal. God likes people like you and inhabits their space. And that, after all is what it’s all about.