From Conference to Closet by Sarah Watne
God wants to meet us. Everywhere. Every minute. He tore the veil so that we could live in His holy-of-holies presence.

From Conference to Closet

by Sarah Watne
5/3/17 Christian Living

There’s no better way to ring in the New Year than worshiping our worthy King with thousands of people from the nations, all in one place. A week after the Onething conference and I am still so excited for the year!!

But I begin to think, “what about tomorrow? What about the next 365 days of the year?”

I have been to IHOPKC’s Onething conference four years in a row now, and each experience is different. Different, but always life-changing and full of majesty. I think most Onething attendees can agree that what God does at this conference is marking, forever changing the way we view God and ourselves.

In years past, I associated these marking moments with a conference more than I associated them with God Himself. This left me waiting around for the next conference so I could finally experience the weighty presence of God and hear His voice clearly once again. I thought God was more apt to show up in huge conference settings than He was to show up in my bedroom or car. This mentality prevented me from carrying the same amount of hunger and desire to meet God in my everyday life. It just isn’t the same, I thought.

Each year, the Lord reminds me that the times I met Him and the radical moments of worship really had nothing to do with the conference itself. They were all about His presence.

God Wants to Encounter His people

I encountered God at the conference, but this was not ultimately due to the reason that I was attending a conference. Encounters with God are not due to a physical location or a certain time of year. Meeting God happens for one triumphant reason: God wants to encounter His people! I met God because God loves to reveal Himself and demonstrate His love to His children (1 Corinthians 2:9–10; John 1:14, Colossians 1:27). He just loves us and it’s in His very nature to make Himself known—in Kansas City, in Denver, in Africa, in the grocery store. Monday, Tuesday, every morning, day and night.

So many encounters happen at conferences because the very premise of a Christian conference is to know God better. This provides a mentality of complete focus on God and God alone. At these conferences, people switch their thinking from normal everyday routine life to thoughts that proclaim “God, I need more” at every moment. People everywhere are seeking God’s face. There is a culture of hunger; it is normal to be abandoned in worship and to take healthy risks in ministry. Teaching, worship, and prayer happens all day! It’s all set up for us! Truly every minute of the conference is an organized opportunity to meet with God. It is difficult to not be consumed with God in a place where everyone is thinking and talking about God! There, Jesus truly is our one thing!

Almost every minute of the conference provides an organized opportunity to meet with God. This is incredible! A foretaste of Heaven! But what happens when we go home and we don’t have worship sessions and hubs scheduled for us all day long?

A lot of us are not surrounded by the culture of the Onething conference at home: the mindset of Jesus being our “one thing” (Psalm 27). Home can sometimes carry different mentalities, where school, work, a busy schedule, responsibilities, and the lie of “not enough time” reign more than Jesus does. The focus transitions from the One Thing (Jesus) to everything else on our large plates. It is easy to let our mindsets change when our physical locations change; it is easy to be conformed to the patterns we are used to instead of being transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).

If our mentality changes from our mindset during the conference of constantly seeking God’s face, unquenchable hunger, abandoned worship, and readiness to hear God’s voice to “What would my congregation think if I danced during worship” and, “I don’t have time to seek God with my busy schedule,” or “I hear God so much better at conferences” when we return home, it is no wonder we keep the encounters with God reserved for a weekend conference. With these thoughts, hunger subsides and we become less aware of Emmanuel, present wherever we are, desiring to encounter His children.

God Didn’t Change: Our Awareness of Him Did

Your experience at the Onething conference was not just a “God high,” it was an invitation into more of His heart for every day in the year to come. David reminds us in Psalm 16 that in God’s Presence is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore. I believe this is part of what us millennials refer to as this God high. If this is the case, it is possible to take this God high that many speak of during conferences and recognize that this is a glimpse of what normal life could be like the entire year if we saturate ourselves in the presence of the living God! This was what we were created for!

God wants to meet us. Everywhere. Every minute. He tore the veil so that we could live in His holy-of-holies presence (Matthew 27:51, Hebrews 10). Encounters with God can be a part of your everyday life; they are not reserved for a once-a-year conference.

During this past conference, Corey Russell said, “When God reveals a portion of His character to you, don’t move on! Sell everything and buy that field.” This is the heart of the Father. When He reveals who He is, it is the conversation starter between Father and son or daughter. What God revealed to you at the Onething conference is a conversation starter that has layers and layers of truth just waiting for you to dig into with the Holy Spirit in your secret place with Him at home. The Spirit searches the deep things of the Father and reveals them to us (1 Corinthians 2:10). God’s Spirit will convince you of truth in that secret place where you get to worship when no one else is worshiping. Where you get to hunger for more of God when it offends everyone around you. Where you get to pray when there is no meeting. These are the moments that will mark you.

The Onething conference is a conversation starter between you and the Lord for the year to come. It is a four-day model of the mindset that Jesus is the one thing worthy of our exclusive attention. It is a tangible example of what focus on Him could be like every single day for the next 365 days. How glorious and possible this is! God’s presence is the same every day of the year; His desire to encounter His children is the same every day of the year. God longs to encounter you today.

May this be a year of deep hunger that brings us to the feet of Jesus crying out for more. May this be a year of one focus, one love, one thing. May this be a year of encountering God daily.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19–22, ESV)

[This essay was written directly after Onething 2016.]

Join thousands of believers like Sarah at our annual Onething conference in December. Enjoy times of biblical teaching, corporate worship, and ministry that strengthens and encourages believers toward love and good deeds.

Sarah Watne

position

    Sarah Watne is a writer from Minneapolis. She recently graduated from Colorado Christian University with a degree in communications. Sarah is passionate about the world tasting and seeing the goodness of God. She believes the truths of God are waiting for people to take hold of them and sprinkle them all over humanity with clear and honest communication. She writes, speaks, and takes photos to bring people into awareness of a God who delights in them, a God who desires to be intimately connected to each and every one of us, a God who brings us the promise of eternal life through His son, Jesus Christ. Sarah dreams of traveling the nations and sharing the truth that sets people free!

    Tell us what you think