An Embarrassingly Emotional Experience

Become like a childI was recently part of a prayer service where I was (for reasons still somewhat unknown to me) touched by the Holy Spirit and overcome with emotion, to the point of weeping. It was simultaneously beautiful and disorienting.

Beautiful because it was in the context of prayer for me and my family by people that love me, and the sense of God’s unconditional love was so strong. Yet it was also disorienting because not only was there no immediately obvious rational explanation for my outburst, but it was, frankly, somewhat embarrassingly emotional.

I think that sometimes our discomfort with Charismatic worship isn’t so much about theology (although there are often legitimate concerns there) but rather how incredibly–and even embarrassingly–emotional displays of weeping, laughing, speaking in tongues, and falling down can be.

Of course, I’m not advocating that the public worship be anything but “decently in order” (cf. 1 Cor. 14:40), but there is something to be said for an uninhibited emotional response to the move of the Holy Spirit, to an increased awareness of his power and love.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14, ESV)

I think of my very young children (four and two) that often don’t know how to process or understand their intense emotions, yet they express them freely without fear of judgment and without any shame. If they are sad, they cry. If I look at them with funny face, they laugh. If they are overcome with affection, they throw themselves into my arms without hesitation.

What if we had this same level of freedom of expression with our heavenly Father? It certainly seems the writers of the Psalms did. Weeping in response to sin and jumping for joy and even shouting are all biblical responses to God.

God himself is an emotional person. He rages. He grieves. He delights. He loves.

He wept.

We perhaps forget that God is in the business of not only redeeming our minds, but our hearts as well.