I had an interesting thought a few months ago, as I was with our church elders on a Sunday morning, preparing for a corporate worship meeting. Someone else was leading worship that morning, but I was thinking about how the Lord might want us to navigate through the meeting in order to come into His presence in as full a way as possible.
I began to see a picture in my mind of a plane flying with its flaps down, and I had the sense that there would be a moment in the meeting where we would experience something related to that. Now, the first thought I had was that putting the flaps down on an airplane creates drag, which doesn’t seem like a good term to apply to a dynamic worship experience. The second thought I had was, ‘I need to spend less time on the Google flight simulator this week.’
I didn’t really get what God was saying to me right then, but have you ever had that sense that, even though you don’t fully understand, you just know it’s God? That’s how I felt, so I didn’t dismiss it, I began to ponder what He might be saying.
As we started the meeting, one of the leaders exhorted us to yield to God and begin to move towards Him in prayer, praise, and worship. The worship team began to lead us in a free flowing song without specific words, allowing us each to bring a song from our hearts as an offering to the Lord. Eventually, we came to a moment where you could feel a bit of a lull, where the natural tendency for a worship leader would be to . . . do something — go to the next song on the list, start the fast song — let’s get this crate off the ground!
Suddenly, I knew we were at the "flaps down" moment, and I understood what that meant. The flaps on the rear surface of an airplane’s wings not only create drag when extended, which is good for slowing the plane down to land, but they also create lift, which is necessary for takeoff. Spiritually speaking, of course, we really want lift — leaving earthly things (or at least a preoccupation with them) behind, ascending into a fuller awareness of God’s presence, a place where He will reveal Himself to us as He really is, so we can give Him the worship and honor and praise that He’s really worthy of.
The worship leader or others leading the meeting have three choices at these moments:
1) Give it more throttle — exhort everyone to clap harder, play the fastest, loudest song known to modern man, or employ some other means of trying to get off the ground in our own strength, just hoping we’ll clear the tree line by offering time;
2) Don’t do anything. Just let it crash to the ground, then pick someone specific, like maybe the sound guy, and look at him incredulously, as though it’s not working because he did something, or
3) Put the flaps down! Don’t just rush on, but don’t quit either. Focus on the purpose, move forward with your sights set higher. Take a deep breath, find some faith, and let the wind of God gather under your wings to lift you upward into a wonderful awareness of Him. Search for God with the realization that, if you’ll seach for Him with all your heart, He will be found!
Right in that moment on that particular Sunday morning, I could almost literally feel it as the worship team began to put the flaps down. They began to play and sing as one, doing what they are anointed to do, leading us into an extended period of beautiful, purposeful worship and praise to the Lord that He came and inhabited, according to His promise.
I don’t remember how long we sustained that moment of incredible ‘lift’ into the heavens, but when we finally did move on to some written songs, it was with a great sense of unity, joy, and thankfulness. We had come into the presence of God together, and were now able to worship Him together in spirit and in truth.
The next time you find yourself at this kind of a juncture in a worship meeting (or even in your own time with the Lord), I encourage you — put the flaps down! Let the wind of the Spirit carry you higher than you can go on your own, don’t worry about how long it takes to get there, or how long you plan to stay — just go with it, enjoy the process of free flight with the Living God!