At the beginning of August 2007, I was in the closest resemblance to Heaven on Earth I'd experienced yet. Leading up to this point, it had been in my home church on 1930 Boyd Blvd in my home town of La Porte, IN. That had been the place that I had first felt God's presence and had first received the Holy Ghost. Now I was only 700 miles away from that place of so many firsts in my life, but it felt like a whole new dimension. This was the year that I went to North American Youth Congress for the first time in Charlotte, NC. It opened up a whole new world of firsts for me. First "big" road trip with my youth group. First time being completely responsible for my spending habits (of my parent's money). More importantly, it was the first time that I'd ever worshiped with over 10,000 other people in one place. I'd love to tell you that I remember every song and every sermon that I experienced then, but sadly I'm not super human in that way (or any way for that matter). I remember the theme was "To Be Continued..." and looking back over the 12 years since my first NAYC I couldn't agree more.
Just a few weeks ago, I returned from my sixth NAYC and needless to say a lot has changed since my first in 2007. Instead of being a passenger on the road trip, I'm now the bus driver. Instead of making sure I have enough money for food through the whole Congress, I get to make sure the teenagers that are experiencing their first Congress budget their money correctly. More importantly, I get to be there when they experience over 36,000 other young people worshiping the same God they do in one mind, in one accord, and in one place for their first time. I get to witness them being filled with the Holy Ghost for the first time. I get to watch them make memories and build friendships that will last a lifetime. So much has changed since I had my first NAYC experience and most of it has been for the better.
There is one part that hasn't changed though. Just like it was 12 years ago in Charlotte, the presence of God that I felt this year in St. Louis was the closest resemblance to Heaven on Earth I've experienced yet. Don't get me wrong, I believe it would be very difficult for God not to show up when that many people are praising him. Psalms 22:3 tells us that he lives in the atmospheres of praise that we produce. To be honest though, I don't think it was the amount of people. I don't think it was the amount of talent of the worship team on the platform or the anointing that flowed from the preachers behind the pulpit. The reason that the presence of God was the closest to Heaven on Earth in Charlotte 12 years ago and the reason that it was closer in St. Louis just a few weeks ago is the same reason that it felt even closer in our church the Sunday after we got back. That reason is because each and every time we come together in one mind and one accord worshiping one God there is a petition that is sent to heaven that says "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven"
It's wonderful to worship him in football stadiums and have our hearts convicted by the word of God from the anointed leaders of our movement. I love every moment of it. However, the same God that met me in Charlotte and St. Louie is the same God that met me on Sunday at First Pentecostal Church of La Porte. The fact of the matter is that as long as I'm in the state of mind that I want his kingdom to come and his will to be done, there is always going to be more to come. As long as I'm reaching higher for more of him, God's will is going to come on Earth as it is in Heaven. James put it simply and succinctly in verse 4 of chapter 8 when he said "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you." Just like it was in my first NAYC in 2007 and my sixth this year. Just like it was at FPC and every other church across the world this past Sunday. When we truly want his will, Heaven will meet Earth regardless of where we are at.
Let his kingdom come and his will be done regardless of where you are at today.