“The least scary word is ‘picture.’ You got a picture.” That’s what my roommate Kelsey told me on Sunday night as I tried to explain exactly what happened to me on Saturday night.
Saturday was Onething, a regional conference put on by the International House of Prayer, aka IHOP. Several of my friends here are huge IHOP fanatics, so I was excited to see what all the hype was about.
Let’s just say I had very mixed reviews from the weekend. Sunday and Monday whenever people asked me, “How was Onething?” I never quite knew how to answer. They’re were parts that were good — not great — but good, and then there were the parts that were honestly really off-putting. And then there was this… thing… this… picture.
After talking with most of my friends who went to the conference, I feel much better about the whole experience. I was not the only one who felt off-put or uncomfortable at times, and I have decided to not let this one experience taint my entire opinion of IHOP or Cory Asbury. (I had conflicting feelings about him after the Saturday night worship service… we’ll get there in a bit.) First impressions aren’t everything! Especially when a lot of the conference atmosphere came from the attendees, and not necessarily the people putting on the conference.
But you’re probably thinking, “WHY IS LINDSAY LEAVING ME IN SUSPENSE ABOUT THIS PICTURE, WHATEVER THAT EVEN MEANS?!” And the answer is I have been trying to decide if I wanted to blog about this experience or not because, frankly, it was kind of weird. And nothing like it had ever happened to me. And it was also super personal. But, in the end, I have decided to share because Jesus did something really cool, and I want to give Him glory for that.
So let’s just start off with a few things:
- 1. I was raised in the Church of Christ, aka a church with cessationist views, aka I never thought about the Holy Spirit, aka I didn’t even really understand what the Fruit of the Spirit was until last semester among other things.
- My church here at A&M is far from “charismatic,” but definitely believes in the continuation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including tongues and prophecy. (See I Corinthians 12-14. Read many times. Read many more times. Spend 10 months trying to figure out what Paul is talking about. Talk to a billion wise people who you trust about it. Read the Bible more. Repeat.)
- IHOP’s whole mission is centered around prophetic worship and prayer.
- Really charismatic people along with not super charismatic people like IHOP.
So Saturday. We had already had two worship and teaching sessions that day, and we were entering the last session of the evening. Cory Asbury, who is a somewhat well-known worship-music writer, was leading. We start off singing, and it’s nice. I’m connecting with God. I’m worshiping Him. It’s all good. But then we’re singing and Cory is praying that we just ask for “more of the Spirit to be poured out on us that night,” whatever that even meant (I had no idea what that looked like). So we’re singing, and then this guy gets on stage and starts talking about the Holy Spirit and won’t he just come fill us up and WE. WANT. YOUR. PRESENCE. GOD. And I’m just thinking, “This is weird. This is weird. What is going on?” So we keep worshipping, but then we get to the end of the song and Cory is just like, “WE WANT YOUR SPIRIT, JESUSSSSSSSSS,” and laughing really weirdly. And there’s no music playing and then all these people around me are just yelling and groaning and moaning and shrieking and laughing and one particular lady a few row behind me is yelling in tongues…
Church-of-Christ-girl be freaked out.
So at this point I’m sitting cross-legged in my chair, eyes slammed shut, praying, “God! What is going on? Is this for real? Am I the only one who isn’t doing this? Who isn’t responding like this? I don’t like this at all. This feels out of control. I kind of want to leave. Should I leave, Jesus?” So I’m sitting there basically just wanting the confusion and chaos and noise to end when…
Lindsay Tried to Explain Saturday Night to Roommate Kelsey
“So I was sitting there, praying, and then I just imagined this really huge white room that…”
“Wait. You imagined it?”
“Did you imagine it or did it just come to you?”
“Well… I’m not entirely sure I imagined it. I think it was like… a… visiondream… uh…”
“The least scary word is ‘picture.’ You got a picture.”
“Ok, so I got this picture…”
I got this picture of huge white room that went on in all directions. It was really bright and kind of cloudy/misty, like your stereotypical pictures of heaven or Harry Potter’s King’s Cross from the 7th book. So in real life, I’m sitting crossed legged on my chair with my hands palm up on my knees, which is exactly how I was sitting in the picture, but I was on the floor. So I’m sitting on the floor is this great white room, and God appears across from me on the other side of the room. I know it’s God because He’s really bright and dressed all in white, and His face is basically a huge white light, and He has crazy white hair like they talk about in Revelation. And basically at this point, I know the chaos that is around me, but it’s kind of faded out, like I was wearing headphones. Like I could hear it, but it was muted. Like in this hymn, which I thought of on Sunday as I was processing the experience:
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth with grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”
So then I just hear God tell me to lock my eyes on him. So I do, and He has these crazy electric blue light eyes. So I’m completely fixed into eye contact with God, and He moves closer to me, like we’re in some sort of tractor beam of eye contact or something. I looked up all the verses in my Bible about eyes on Sunday, and here are some of the things I found (basically I wanted to make sure that everything that happened in my picture was Biblical, and I think it was):
” He does not take his eyes off the righteous; he enthrones them with kings and exalts them forever.” —Job 36:7
“Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.” —Pslam 4:25
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.” —Hebrews 12:2a
“But my eyes are fixed on you, O Sovereign Lord; in you I take refuge.” —Psalm 141:8 (That’s the money verse right there!)
So our eyes are fixed, and He’s moving towards me, and He says, “It’s just you and me here now, only you and me here now,” which in the picture I knew was from a song, but I couldn’t remember any of the rest of it. (This isn’t entirely “biblical,” unless you think David Crowder is biblical, but I think the sentiment of the song is indicated somewhere in the Bible…) So He keeps getting closer to me and telling me that it’s just me and Him here now. Like it didn’t matter that there was insanity surrounding me, all that mattered was me and Him.
And then He tells me, “Our relationship is one of peace and gentleness and quiet,” which I took to understand that God and I relate in a much less… active way than those around me. He is very gentle with me, and I rest in a spirit of peace a lot. My life has been pretty dang peaceful and quiet, in the best way possible, thanks to Jesus. And God likes our quiet relationship! I don’t have to be all chaotic with him. (I haven’t had time to go through the “peace” section of my concordance — there are a lot of verses on it! — but I plan in doing so soon.)
So at this point, God actually sits down cross-legged across from me, and He leans in and holds my hands. So we’re just sitting there for a moment, just meditating on our peaceful relationship and how it’s just me and Him when Cory Asbury starts leading “Finally Found Where I Belong,” which has been a really important song to me in the past few weeks. Straight up Song of Songs. It’s basically mine and Jesus’ love song. So then I cried because I felt like the whole experience had been God’s way of comforting me in my fear and uncertainty and alienation. So I started singing in worship, and the picture basically ended.
So then I spent the rest of the night and a good part of Sunday trying to figure out exactly what had happened and if I had imagined it or not. And I’m pretty sure it was “technically” imagined, but it was definitely imagination from God.
“‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.'” —Acts 2:17-18 (as quoted from Joel 2:28-32)
So yeah. That happened. God is cool.
PS: Hi, Mom and Dad and grandparents (and possibly some friends)! You probably have lot of questions. I do, too. We can talk about it whenever you want. Feel free to give me a call!