Clive stood out. There was something unusual about his social interaction, as well as his appearance, but it was not overtly obvious. More of a feeling.
He would occasionally come to our little church. He was comfortable at our place, and didn’t get into arguments, as he did elsewhere. He didn’t necessarily join in, but his Bible was always open, and he occassionally shared something he had discovered, though you couldn’t rely on him to do it.
What he shared was usually profound, though unorthodox. For example, for him the New Testament started at the resurrection, not the birth of Jesus. He liked pointing out our errors. He recognised Jesus very well though. He simply loved Him.
As I got to know him a bit better – I liked to spend time with him – I discovered he liked our fellowship because the presence of God was real for him, and he could read and digest the Bible without distractions. That did make it feel a little less rude!
Clive is not special needs, and I haven’t seen him for many many years, but I heard from a mutual friend that he’s just as keen to hear God speak these days, and he has lost his sense of ‘strangeness.’
Can I suggest you learn something from Clive, if you don’t already know this?
When we meet for worship, it is not to please God with an accurate, honest and proper meeting, with all the elements. These are a vehicle to allow us to encounter God. To let him know we love him, to notice ourselves expressing this love from deep within us, to clock it, and to hear and respond to any whispers God has for us. And this is part of tuning us in to be effective as his people in our lives every day, throughout the week. It’s an enriched encounter to encourage us to keep encountering.
Clive made no effort to contribute to the encounter – he simply took. But he was a blessing. A bit like Mary choosing to sit at Jesus’ feet while Martha did the coffee and cakes and complained. Jesus commended Mary though – and insisted this shouldn’t be taken away from her. I think he didn’t want Martha to miss out either.
God does not want you to work hard at tuning in to the service, but to kind of hang loose, and let him transport you with various things that will catch you. Learn to follow these prompts. Let him share thoughts with you, bless you. Teach you to hear and listen.
Not everything in a service will be to your ‘taste’ anyway. Don’t resent it, it’s (hopefully) prayerfully offered. It might be that thing, rather than what you are eagerly waiting for, that contains the hint you need to catch what God is showing you. He’s cheeky like that!
(I still remember one lady being flabbergasted that God spoke profoundly to her at an All Age Worship service. How dare he!)
As you do get distracted by God touching you, you will contribute in profound ways to the worship of the others. This is how words of knowledge, compassion, and other spiritual gifts are shared. All part of recognising and honouring Jesus presence with you. And with us.