“It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” – Psalm 118:8
I have known of the supernatural things of God since I was a little girl. I didn’t grow up in church, but my Grandma’s favorite story was always about the angels she had seen hand in hand encircling her home one night after she had prayed for peace. When I would go over to her house, her TV would usually have on John Hagee Ministries. She’d talk about laying hands on people for healing and even about falling in the Spirit. Falling in the Spirit both terrified and intrigued me. There were so many things I wanted to know. How did people fall? Were they conscious? How did others always seem to know when they were going to fall and rush to catch them? What happened as they lay there on the floor, alone with Jesus? How did they eventually “come to?”
As I grew older and found a church of my own, I did well to avoid any chance that I’d fall in the Spirit. Now I should mention that I’ve never believed falling in the Spirit to be anything demonic or spiritually dangerous as some do. I was only intimidated by what I didn’t know a lot about. I think I’ve mentioned before that I may or may not have some control issues. It’s just that, I need to know what’s going to happen before it happens so I can decide if I’m going to let it. That’s not how God works though. I know. He made it very clear…
In June my church hosted a young adult conference, the first in our region. I felt the presence of the Lord stronger than I ever have. “This must be what people feel when they fall in the Spirit,” I thought to myself. 25 years old and I was still wondering about all of that. I stood right in front of the stage, my hands and face lifted in worship, and I tried to prepare myself mentally for whether today might be the day.
As I pictured myself in the very same Heavenly places the Bible tells me I’m currently seated, I felt myself leave the natural for just a moment. Trying to put what happened into words seems futile, but I have to try. I could hear the worship music all around me- I was still singing along with it- but I knew some part of me wasn’t there. I felt weightless, like I was being lifted into the arms of God for an embrace. It made me stretch my arms up higher and higher, reaching for Him. I had to be picked up by my Dad. I could feel my feet failing beneath me as my body started to sway.
The thought crossed my mind that this was real, and my eyes shot open. I reasoned with God that I wasn’t ready to fall. I was in a sea of people worshipping. Who would catch me like all those daytime episodes of John Hagee Ministries? That’s when I noticed him. The senior pastor of our church had come to our main session to support our young adult pastor. He had been there worshipping with us from his chair, but now he was making his way to the floor before the altar. Just behind me.
“This is it, God!” I thought. “You brought someone strong, a grown man and spiritual leader, to catch me. Today’s the day! I’m trusting you.”
I was not, in fact, trusting in God but in man. Two very human hands that I thought would prevent me from being knocked out cold if I let myself fall under the hand of God. And let me tell you just how it ends up when you tell God you’re going to trust Him only after you’ve seen spiritually sound people step in.
You fall. You fall hard. You can hurt others too- like the senior pastor of your home church.
I was very pleased with myself when I closed my little eyes back up and lifted my hands to the Lord again. I entered into worship just as quickly as I had let myself leave it, and again I felt my body begin to sway. This time, I didn’t fight it. The most pleasant and gentle sensation of falling overcame me. I knew I was going down, but I didn’t think about whether it would hurt. I didn’t think about where I’d land or the looks I’d get. I didn’t care what happened to me in that moment. Just that I’d be in the secret place with God. I wasn’t afraid.
Those warm, cozy feelings of alone time with God were interrupted by my heavy fall into my senior pastor. He let out a hard grunt and staggered backwards as I took him out on my way down. He hadn’t noticed me going down. I hit the ground with some force and with some shame. Okay, a lot of shame. And immediately I came to. I stood up as fast as I could, checked to see if he was okay, and apologized profusely. Then I made my escape. I mean, I RAN to the women’s bathroom- because where else does a girl go when she’s just made a fool of herself!? I’d seen all the movies.
I locked myself in a stall, sunk down the wall, and cried on the floor. After spending a while there, I texted a friend to come meet me. I didn’t tell her what had happened, but I needed her to help me scrub the smeared mascara off my red, blotchy face. She brought with her a whole group of girls, and as they walked into the bathroom talking, laughing, and calling my name, I stayed quiet there in the stall. I wasn’t ready to face them all. I held my breath so none of my sobs escaped me and they finally concluded that I must have left already.
When I was finally able to pick myself up, I made my way back into the sanctuary. I wanted to leave, but I was a leader for this conference. “Some leader,” I told myself. It was as I sat down, in the very last row, overcome with embarrassment, that the Lord finally spoke.
“Yeah, that was pretty bad.”
Excuse me, what? This did not sound like the Father I had come to know. I listened again, convinced I had heard Him wrong.
When He said it again, I laughed. This time I heard His tone. I could just picture Him in Heaven standing there and looking at me, a slight smirk across His face as He spoke. He loved me, but like any good Father, He knew the falls to rush in for and the ones to stand back from. He knew just when to say, “ It would have been easier just to trust Me. Come on, get up, darling! You’re okay.” Some lessons can only be learned by falling.
I learned that day the importance of having my own faith. Even the most spiritually sound people you know and look up to can’t be a part of everything the Lord wants to do in your life. How else then would you learn to grow in the Lord and become a leader one day too? As I shared what happened later that night with my pastor’s wife- after she had come to find me to make sure I was okay- we ended that conference weekend with a really good laugh.
I guess that Scripture should say it’s better to trust in God than to put confidence in [even the most respected and spiritual of] men.