In January, my husband’s work held a conference in the city. It was open to spouses too, so for that weekend, I played the role of ‘the arm candy’. Going to a nice dinner, staying in a fancy hotel but having the day free while my husband was doing work related things. The only difference between me and a trophy wife, was that I couldn’t actually afford anything in those boutiques I looked in!
After spending some time looking through those impossibly elegant and unaffordable shops, I wandered over to Hyde Park and saw in the distance St Mary’s Cathedral. I’m the sort of person who appreciates classic architecture and tradition, so I walked over to that exquisite building and I entered in. Now, in Protestant circles, there are varying opinions towards Catholics, with the more extreme opinions stating they are heretics, in no way Christian (that’s not what I believe, by the way). But as I entered the cathedral and took in the silence, the soft colours and those high ceilings, I felt such a powerful sense of reverence and peace wash over me. God is here. Not because of the grandeur of the building, but because of the hearts gathered to worship him.
I expected just to walk around, say a short prayer and be on my way. Instead, I found a pew and I knelt down, my hands folded and my head bowed. To be honest, I’d been going through a dry patch when it came to my relationship with God. I still believed, but maybe I didn’t feel it as passionately as I once did. But being there, with no other purpose than spending time in God’s presence, I felt something change. As if I was being renewed and being given a fresh passion for God. I stayed in that place of prayer for much longer than I’d intended. When I finally left that sacred space, one phrase settled in my mind.
Where God is, that’s where I want to be.
The next day of the conference, there was a morning session right after breakfast. My husband works at a Christian college, so each session started with a time of worship. I decided to stay in the session for the worship and then leave before the boring work-related things started. It’s a Pentecostal college, so I expected hands raised high, dancing, swaying, songs building in intensity as bridges are repeated over and over. As the worship continued, I saw all of those things and I entered in. It could scarcely have been more different than the Catholic church I visited yesterday. Yet, as I joined in with the worshippers, hearts crying out in adoration and praise, I felt it again. God is here. My worship started out timid, but as it progressed I was drawn deeper and deeper into his presence. My arms were lifted high in praise and I even started dancing a little (just a little!)
Where God is, that’s where I want to be
I consider myself generally to be an Evangelical Protestant, so both of these traditions were outside of what I’m used to. But God was there, just as much as he’s there when I go to my own church on Sundays. God shows up sometimes in surprising places. And wherever he is, wherever his name is lifted high and his gospel is proclaimed. Wherever people are worshipping him in spirit and truth. Wherever he’s working and moving in my life, that’s where I want to be.