This weekend, I was at David’s Tent for the first time; participating in their 72 hour non-stop worship gathering.
I had heard of how amazing David's Tent was from friends who had been, so as I packed my things into a rucksack and carry-all I was super excited. To summarise, David's Tent completely shifted my perception of worship. While I love music and worship, (aka praise & worship), it is usually kept to 3 or 4 songs, followed by a sermon which always seems more important in the traditional church setting. And there's nothing wrong with this structure; it’s your typical Sunday service, and it's what some connect groups also do. The music is sometimes seen as some nice songs to get you in the right state of mind before you deal with the 'real stuff'. So I understand if you’re wondering whether just worshipping was enough, especially for 72 hours straight. (Yes, that's three days non-stop, with the help of endless cups of coffee and thick blankets to get us through the night).
We tend to forget that building a relationship with God brings endless opportunity.
One expression of this relationship is through music. Focusing on worship alone at avid's Tent removed any (self-induced) pressure to be 'good enough' or know enough which can sometimes be a bit intimidating. All you had to do was show up and get involved. There was no need to rapidly take notes, no need to understand or intellectualise someone else's teaching. While learning and teaching are very important, doing something completely different like David’s Tent brought worship to the forefront.
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. - Psalm 100:1-2
After all, this is God we’re talking about. He is never boxed in by traditional structures that make us feel comfortable or in control. As much as there is a time for structure there is also plenty of space for childlike spontaneity and play.
“Childlikeness is what unlocks the move of God. That’s the beauty what we do here; shouting, dancing, camping and playing in the dirt - that’s not what adults are supposed to do” - Sean Feucht
At David’s Tent, worship took centre stage; it wasn’t about being a student, it was about being children and friends. It was about embedding ourselves in the lyrics, responding to the sound and expressing ourselves with movement. This might sound quite off the wall and very hippy-esque, but it is also what takes you into the wild, passionate and authentic. A perfect example of this is King David. A direct ancestor of Jesus himself who expressed himself freely, despite what others thought:
“David, ceremonially dressed in priest’s linen, danced with great abandon before God. The whole country was with him as he accompanied the Chest of God with shouts and trumpet blasts. But as the Chest of God came into the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, happened to be looking out a window. When she saw King David leaping and dancing before God, her heart filled with scorn.
David returned home to bless his family. Michal, Saul’s daughter, came out to greet him: “How wonderfully the king has distinguished himself today—exposing himself to the eyes of the servants’ maids like some burlesque street dancer!” David replied to Michal, “In God’s presence I’ll dance all I want!” - 2 Samuel 6:12-22 MSG (selected verses)
That’s why it’s called David’s Tent.
Despite being a powerful king who led armies into war and a textbook example of masculinity, David didn’t let society’s expectations cage his relationship with God. As Sean Feucht said over the weekend, we live on 24/7 worship; and David was a 27:4 kind of guy.
One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. - Psalm 27:4
We spend so much time plotting, planning and trying to control things that spontaneity and vulnerability become foreign concepts. Our lives get blocked up by the desire to control our image and to bend (both consciously and subconsciously) to what society tells us to do or be. When we let go of that control, we create space for God to continuously speak to us. So many of us struggle with hearing from God, and we have no idea how to overcome it. I believe that actually God is always speaking, but we have no room to hear because our lives are filled with so much noise.
“Burnout happens when our doing exceeds our being” - Jonathan David Helser
At David's Tent, I left that structure behind. I didn’t set any alarms, didn’t run to a schedule, I simply showed up to worship whenever, and stayed as long as I wanted to. I had the opportunity to simply be. This is counter-intuitive for many of us; life tells us that if we're always rushing somewhere, or doing something we're not living a meaningful life.
Unless you’re able to stop trying to force life into your picture-perfect image, you deprive yourself of deep and meaningful relationship with a God that is willing and waiting.
“I thought I was looking for you, but really you were looking for me” - spontaneous lyrics from time around the campfire
Making the shift from doing to being isn’t something that just happens, it follows a change in how you see yourself, in your identity. It is so easy to look within and to others for validation, acceptance and provision; but when you realise that you are already validated, accepted and provided for everything changes. How you think, react and behave changes, and that is the difference between your life right now and the life that deep down, you know you could be living.
“The greatest battle you have as a Christian is the battle with your identity [...] Insecurity happens when you look inside yourself for security. Instead we embrace our weaknesses and look to the Father” - Jonathan David Helser
It was moving and wonderful to see over 4,000 people travel to the British countryside from across Europe. People from all church denominations, cultures and backgrounds came together to meet God. While it was great to see some of my favourite worship leaders ever, watch people get healed, hear prophesies and receive my very first sozo; what moved me the most was the many moments of intimacy with God the Father.
Intimacy in the middle of the day as the sun shone;
Intimacy at night as we sang around the campfire;
Intimacy at 2am, 3am, 4am as musicians sang on rotation to keep the 72-hour worship chain going. Everyone around me was sinkng deeper into their own personal relationship with God. A relationship that unites, heals, restores and draws us out of our personal darkness into light.
“With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation” - Romans 8:1-2 (MSG, selected verses)
Throughout the weekend, all I saw was pure joy, excitement and a passion for supporting each other. The atmosphere was thick with humility, ease and peace. Despite going to David's Tent by myself; I left having multiple deep moments with people I had been strangers just days before. I genuinely had the best day(s) of my life ever, and look forward to having even better days, because the faith-filled life only gets better and better.
On reflection, this weekend confirmed the ultimate truth: this faith has nothing to do with what we can or cannot do, it's not about ‘becoming a good person’ or condemning others...
It's about relationship.
It's about being completely free and vulnerable to the One who is closer than our breath. The one of who memorised us. The one who tattooed your name on his hand. The one who laid his life down in exchange for a friendship with you, regardless of whether you acknowledge him or not. I could go on, but we’d be here for a while. All I'll say is that if you're curious come and explore; feel free to ask questions and to challenge things that you don't understand. Remember that "this faith isn't taught, it's caught", so amount of research, debate or explanation will be enough.
Only experience will.
Thank you for reading! As usual please feel free to leave comments below or send me an email if you have any questions! Speak to you soon.
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