I think most of us can remember the first time. The first time is always special and you hope that each time after that you will feel the exact same way.My first time was special. Very special. For some, the first time happens with one other person. For me, it was with hundreds of people. For some, it happens in a car, or in a bedroom, or outside. For me, it happened in a high school auditorium. For some, it happens because someone or some people pushed them to do it. For me, I did it to music. Yes, I remember the first time I lifted my hands in praise of my almighty God and finally felt like I had a real relationship with him. Best of all, I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt that He loved me…no matter what. I had been searching for Him since high school when I first started having feelings that there was something else in control of all this that was much bigger than me. I never allowed myself to truly explore those feelings as I was more focused on things of the world, things of short-term pleasure. My focus was not necessarily on bad things in life, even though there were some bad things, but mostly I was focused on my friends, materialistic things, and my education. As I pulled into the high school parking lot in Matthews, NC, where Elevation Church was holding its Sunday services, I knew right away that this was going to be a different experience. There were folks all wearing the same t-shirt and bright orange safety vests enthusiastically greeting me and directing me to a parking space. When I got out of the car, there were no less than 10 other people, wearing the same t-shirt, greeting me, shaking my hand and welcoming me to Elevation Church. As I got closer to the entrance to the building, I could hear music playing on a set of speakers that were set up outside. I saw portable shade tents set up and more people wearing those t-shirts working under those tents. Upon entering the building, I was greeted by three more people, yes, in those same t-shirts, who directed me to the entrance of the auditorium. As I entered, I was given a card and a pen and then directed to a seat. I didn’t get to choose a seat; I was ushered to seat. I later observed it was the next available seat. Because the auditorium would later be totally packed, the ushers very methodically sat people from the front to the back to make sure every seat was used. As I looked up on the stage, I could see a music set with orange hazy light. Then some pre-recorded music started and a countdown appeared on the several large screens set up in the auditorium. The second the countdown finished its five minute journey, the live music began and the lights came to life shining all over the packed auditorium. The congregation jumped to its feet and the band rocked the house. I do not remember what the first song was, but it was terrific, energetic and well-played. However, I do remember the second song – Glory to God. I had never heard it before. As the chorus came around, almost every hand in the congregation was in the air…except mine. “Take me life and let it be all for you and for your Glory.” “Glory to God forever.” As the band played this tune, repeating the above lyrics, I felt the Spirit of God consume me. It started early in the song and I didn’t think too much of it. Then the band stopped playing its instruments and allowed only the drummer to pound out a beat to the song. The congregation, without skipping a beat, picked up the chorus fervently singing in unison. At that moment, my blood felt electrified. A myriad of thoughts raced through my head. Was I ready? Could I sing these lyrics and REALLY mean them? Did I really want to let God take my life and use it for His glory? I knew the answer was yes and that answer brought some fear of what that meant for my life. Because I did not have a perfect past, I was fearful of what others might think, or what I might think. Then a spirit of peace, warmth and love surrounded me. I felt great comfort. And without really thinking about it, I raised my right hand and began singing at that top of my lungs as tears ran down my face. I felt a little awkward as I had never done that before and at the same time, I felt liberated, connected and uplifted. I was floating a few inches above the auditorium floor. And somehow, my left hand was up in the air joining my right hand and my head tilted up as if I was singng to God himself. And I was. And it was amazing! Honestly, I don’t remember anything else about that worship experience. I know the pastor spoke, the band played again and somehow I left and drove home. Because I felt so close to and connected with God during that song, I think everything else paled. I knew, and still know, that my God loves me. I know that there is nothing I can do to make Him love me more and there is nothing I can do to make Him love me less. For that, I am so grateful. In fact, I will lift my hands right now for that! My first time was very special. The even better news is that I go to a church every week where I get to experience that over and over again each week. Come share that experience with me sometime at Turning Point Church in McDonough, GA.