Longing for God
On 20th July 2017, I was with about 1,500 people gathered at Mt Murud Church Camp for the Mt Murud three-day Prayer Conference. It was 7:30am when we walked to the Prayer House. The first session was scheduled at 9am but when we arrived the hall was already one third full. By 8:30am it was fully packed. All were eagerly waiting, in silent reverence, seeking God in worship and prayer.
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” (Psalm 42:1) We were thirsting for His presence and desiring for His touch. Withdrawn from earthly toils, cares and thoughts, I too was on a retreat on this high mountain, seeking God with contemplation on this Holy Ground.
Standing on Holy Ground
It had taken us five hours by rugged road from Lawas to Lepo Bunga (5,350 feet) and a further four hours’ hike to reach the Church Camp, situated 7,000 feet above sea level. It is called “Reked Meligan”, Lun Bawang language for “Holy Ground”, with a good view of the summit of Mt Murud, the highest mountain in Sarawak.
The first Prayer Meeting and Miracle at Mount Murud was on 20th July 1985 attended by more than 600 people. Moving lights in the sky and mixture of stone, soil, moss and water bursting into fire were some of the signs and wonders witnessed then.
Through the late Pa Agong, a pastor from Buduk Nur, God revealed His plans and purposes to establish Mount Murud as the site of His church. Building a church at such an altitude without access roads was truly a monumental task. However, it was completed and officiated in 1992. Since then, the Lun Bawang people have been blessed greatly as they seek God on this prayer mountain. Upon hearing the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit in Ba’kelalan, people from all over the world have been drawn to participate in the biennial Prayer Conference on this Holy Ground.
Samal, Samal, Samal…
Each worship was a special experience. As the worship leader led us during the first worship, he said in the midst of singing, “Close your eyes and see. See Jesus…” He was not contradicting himself in asking us to close our eyes and see. Neither was it paradoxical. He was asking us to move into the spiritual realm or spiritual reality in our pursuit to be close to God and to see that which our physical eyes could not see.
The worship leader continued as he led the worship, “Jesus is saying to you, I love you… Yes, he is saying I love you, so you sing … sing a love song to Jesus.” My tears started to fall, as we sang the chorus of the Lun Bawang song, “Samal, samal, samal, kuan lemulun luk muneng iring Tuhan …” I did not know what it meant but I was experiencing the touch and the profound love of the Lord. My tears continued to flow as I enjoyed the intimate experience with Jesus until the end of the worship. After the session, I asked my Lun Bawang friend the meaning of the song. The phrase means “Blessed, blessed, blessed are those who stay near to God.” I am not emphasizing my emotional experience; rather, I want to proclaim the joy of knowing the width and depth of Jesus’ love for me. It is very personal.
This was the song God revealed to the late Pa Agong at Mount Murud. He saw angels singing and waving their hands as they sang samal, samal, samal…, and showering their blessings. No wonder this song of blessing was so powerful.
Let His Glory Fall
During the worship, we were also repeatedly reminded to seek His face and His glory; not His hands, nor His blessings. Our focus was not only to exalt God with songs and music but also to pursue His glory. We sang and prayed for God’s Glory to fall upon us, so that we would be able to experience His presence. We were crying out to God like David’s call in Psalm 27:8 – My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face Lord, I will seek.
I felt my whole inner self drawn into the spiritual realm to enjoy the Shekinah glory of God. We were pursuing Him in order to encounter Him in His divine presence, so as to know Him more intimately.
It is in such deep worship that we utilize the full faculties of our inner life to meet God. As our spirits join with God’s Spirit, there is submission of all our nature or dimensions to God. We experienced the worship as described by William Temple:
To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, to devote the will to the purpose of God.
We rejoiced even more as the Lord also turned His face toward us in good favour and made His face to shine upon us!
Inviting the Refining Fire
It was the second morning and the speaker shared that God was going to send fire among us. He had received word from God the night before that all of us were called up there not just for our personal spiritual refreshing but more so for the revival of our nation. We were going to catch that refining fire as we worshiped Him and prayed.
He called up pastors and missionaries who were tired in their ministries and prayed for renewed strength in the Lord. He also prayed for those who felt rejected in relationship and in ministry. Through him, God gave us two words for revival in this land – “set apart.” He called for people who were willing to be set apart. We were warned that we must be ready to pay the price. It would be costly as we would face trials and suffering. But God gave me that confidence and I responded. I knelt in front and invited the refining fire of the Holy Spirit to come upon me.
Soon after I started to pray, wave after wave of heat came upon me from head to toe. Then I felt a gentle touch on my head. It was such a divine moment for me. The waves of heat became stronger and hotter. I couldn’t hold back my tears of joy and ecstasy as the purifying fire coursed through me, wave after wave. I was also given the words – “be strong and courageous for I am with you”. This was the most refreshing spiritual experience.
In the Inner Sanctuary of My Heart
The world does not care how much knowledge we have about God if there is no manifestation of God’s glory in our church. We were fed with Acts chapter 3 where the theme “Repent, Return and Experience Spiritual Refreshing” (v.19) was taken from. The Word was drilled into us so that we would be able to stand on Christ the solid Rock as we prepared to return into the world with His glory.
The intimate encounter shall not just last for three days. The intimacy shall be enjoyed even after we have descended the Holy Ground. We were given a love song to help us to strengthen that intimacy.
You made a way for me
To enter the Holy Place
I’m yours, you are mine
And we’ll be together forever!
What else and where else do I desire? “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4) We are God’s temple and His Spirit dwells in us. It is in the inner sanctuary of my heart where I can behold his splendor and approach Him in contemplation. In the sanctuary, I would experience the restedness of my soul and the power to shine forth His glory.
I can see why St Augustine said that to fall in love with God is the greatest romance. “And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own; and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.” (Chorus of “In the Garden”) Thank you Lord for been so very personal. Let “Seek Your face” be my greatest adventure all the days of my life. I know I will be blessed and I will find Him as I seek Him with all my heart (Jeremiah 29:13).