Just over a week ago I was at Hillsong Conference London. My first Conference. I had the most amazing time – the teaching was phenomenal, the worship was transcendent and the Holy Spirit was moving.
I decided to go with my sister and her church, when I booked I was a bit of a church nomad, so thought I’d stick with them (most of the people I know from my church were serving). It ended up, that we were a small group – my sister and brother-in-law, a father and son from Preston, and a girl called Sarah that I know from my sister’s church.
After a lunch break, whilst we were queuing up outside the O2 to go through security we started talking about the latter part of the last session. My favourite speaker had led an amazing worship moment that was definitely spirit lead. We had been singing worship and he asked the band to stop and he told us to start praising the Holy Spirit – he told us to lean in and to just go with it. Then the band would pick up, and we should start singing our praise – we’d all be singing different things, just a cacophony of beautiful praise for our amazing God. He told us he believed that many people in the congregation would have visions and it would be amazing.
First of all, a year ago the very notion of this would have made me incredibly uncomfortable. But, I never thought I’d go to Conference, never thought I would attend a church like Hillsong, and I was surprised how eager I was to get started – praising and worshipping. I didn’t have any visions, but I heard God’s voice.
In the queue, Sarah asked if any of us had had visions when Pastor Brian had lead the session. We all revealed that we had not. So she asked a follow-up question: how do you know where your imagination ends and God’s vision starts? How do you know when God is speaking to you?
Big questions after lunch! We each thought about it and my brother-in-law had some insights, but I was too busy pondering this to hear him (sorry Tom!). Much like my sister revealed in an earlier blog (you can read it here) I also have a pretty vivid imagination. I have fantasised a lot about the man I might marry at some point. He changes – a lot – depending on where I am with my life. But at no point have I ever felt that God is revealing anything to me – I mean, he might be Australian, or Scottish, or attend bible college, or be a history lecturer like my varying daydreams – but I believe these are just passing fancies as I watch different TV shows and films, and think about where I might end up in my future.
But I do know I have heard God’s voice, on two occasions now, very clearly. The reason I know it’s God is that there’s no way I would think those things (even with my crazy, creative imagination). The first you can read about in my testimony here and the second happened at Conference just over a week ago.
In the car on the way to the Wednesday evening session, my sister shared with me that a friend of both of ours – the youth pastor at her church – had told her that she should come to Conference with a few questions for God that she would like answers to. She told me I should try it too.
So, in case you hadn’t realised from my secret day dreaming revelation above, I’m single. I’m closer to 30 than I am 20 and I’m in a season of my life where my friends are settling down and getting married, getting mortgages with their significant others and having babies. I love weddings, but can’t help feeling a little like Katherine Heigl in 27 Dresses.
So I brought it to God at Conference. In that moment of pure worship and praise lead by my main man Pastor Brian, I heard a voice: “Wait”. And then we sang ‘As It Is In Heaven (It Is In Me)’ and the lyrics struck me: “While I’m waiting – I’m not waiting: heaven lives in me.” Man, when God has a message for your heart, even when it’s not really what you want to hear (seriously, wait?!) He does it with such amazing comfort and blessing. He reinforced that Jesus is enough for me. And although it wasn’t the answer I wanted (I was hoping I might be sat next to a handsome, single, Scottish/Australian pastor/historian who has been to bible college when we were told to say hi to those sat around us), it was an answer.
Instead of feeling full of disappointment, I feel so full of praise and contentment (and it’s not just the high of Conference, that has unfortunately worn off now) – I can’t explain it. That’s how I know it was God’s voice – how I can recognise when God is speaking to me and it’s not my imagination. Because it has an incredible effect of contentment on me – fullness, completion, wholeness – even when it’s not what I wanted.
I had such an amazing time at Conference. I had answers to prayer, God delivered a message through Jentzen Franklin that I didn’t know I needed (like WOW how great is our God?!), and I came away strengthened in God’s word and presence – going back into life with a battle cry of glory to God.
In case you don’t know the worship song I referred to above, you can listen to it here:
If you’ve not been to Conference before, can I urge you to register now and book your ticket. Make a commitment to God now – register here, because THERE IS MORE!