Imagining God’s Presence

The other morning, after I had read the Word, I was feeling especially convicted about my lack of time with God recently. I felt like I hadn’t given him my undivided attention lately, and that I was being lazy in our relationship. So I decided to kneel by my bed and take some time to speak intimately to him.

Well, as soon as I closed my eyes to talk with him, I was distracted. Words were fumbling out of my mouth-as I thought about all I wanted him to do for me. I felt uncomfortable in my position and kept shifting and moving around, and my mind was wandering about the morning plans and how I should probably make my bed before I leave.

So to help myself focus, I decided to imagine what it would be like to enter God’s presence to speak with him. This was my train of thought:

castle

I enter the most glorious building I’ve ever seen. I imagine it’s the Sistine Chapel meets the Disney Castle times 100. Not gaudy, but perfectly ornate. Not sterile, but perfectly orderly. Being escorted by angels I walk the halls and am delighted by the beauty of each room I pass through. We reach the throne room, God’s dwelling place, and 2 angels each grab door handles and pull open the doors. They glide effortless across the reflective floor and I step into the huge room. The moment my feet land I am enormously overwhelmed. In that moment I saw down the corridor to the throne. There sits the Triune God. He is one-but He is three. The power of being in the presence of God takes my breath away, and I begin to sob. I am consumed by feelings of love, joy, peace, power, and perfection. It is more precious and beautiful than any feeling I have ever experienced. He is magnificent and I am deeply experiencing love. His gloriousness causes my body to tremble. The other simultaneous feeling that engulfs me is one of guilt. I can feel his holiness in the air that I’m gasping for through my sobs. My shaking body is painfully aware of its choice to please itself over this beautiful, joyful Being that I now see. I am repulsed by my lack of desire to be here, and my unworthiness to be here simply devastates me.

In that very moment, the Holy Spirit, like a rushing wind, leaves the throne and envelopes me. I breathe fully for the first time as I feel him comfort me and hold me. He brushes my tears away and I hear him whisper the truth of my forgiveness through Christ, and now my standing before God. All at once these verses come to mind:

“[God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  –2 Corinthians 5:21

“But by His [God’s] doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.”-1 Corinthians 1:30

“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe.” –Romans 3:21-22

Peace floods my heart as look to Christ for my righteousness, and find it lacking nothing. The Holy Spirit picks me up and carries me all the way to the nail pierced feet of God the Son, seated at the right hand of God the Father. Looking at Christ’s wounds causes my tears to flow again. Overwhelmed by what he went through so that I could come to this room, I feel the holes in his hands and the only words I can muster are “thank you, thank you, thank you”. Every request I had, seems to vanish as I behold His splendor. My appeals for comfort and aid seem like such a ridiculous request considering what I have already been given. How could I ask for anything more? As tears gently flow, my heart is bursting with worship. Though no words are being formed, I simply bask in the enormity of His joy and perfection. The peace that floods my spirit is inexplicable as my smile matches the one on the face of the one True God. Who am I to experience such serenity? I’m holding Christ’s hands and am overwhelmed by the opportunity to worship and love him-this source of love, goodness, and satisfaction seems somehow grateful that I am here. Though snotty, selfish, and often sporadic-He is glad that I am here worshipping Him!

The Holy Spirit, still comforting me, looks at me, over to Christ, and begins speaking to the Father.  He tells the Father of my deepest longings, concerns, aches, and desires. He presents them more beautifully than I have ever been able to understand or articulate. All the requests are for the glory of God and in accordance with His will, and yet are still able to interweave my heart and mind’s innermost workings.

The Father nods knowingly, and all of a sudden I realize that it is time for me to leave for work! No! I don’t want to leave! I just got here! Through the Spirit, I am reminded of these verses:

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” -Psalm 139” 7-10

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” -John 14:16-17

With the reminder that God is with me always, and that at any time I can choose to enter the presence of God, I gather enough strength to rise to my feet. The truth seems too good to be true, but in faith, I thank Yahweh for making me his daughter. I will be back soon! I love you!”

And with that, with my heart filled, I left for work.

I tell this story to communicate 2 things: 1.) a sliver of the awesomeness of being able to know and have a relationship with the God of the Bible, and 2.) our need to take time to turn our eyes to God every chance we get!

I easily get distracted. Though as I imagined this a few days ago, I wept by the side of my bed, I have already many times forgotten about the incredibleness of His gift of himself. Though that morning I was filled with adoration for God, I too soon forgot the overwhelming peace and satisfaction that his presence brings. I amaze myself with how quickly I am sidetracked by other things of this world.

I need this reminder-to get out of bed early tomorrow morning and seek God.

It’s a privilege to go into His glorious presence.

It is an incalculable blessing to have the Holy Spirit.

We all need to think deeply about the gift of salvation. We need to everyday look to the cross. EVERYDAY experience His presence. EVERYDAY praise Him with all we have. If you are anything like me, you are an incredibly forgetful person who needs a whole lot of reminders. Fortunately, our just God is also patience, and steadfast, and has an endless supply of lovingkindess for his children.

So tomorrow, make sure you take the time to spend a few moments (or hours if you have them!) in the presence of God. Adore, confess, praise, petition, thank, and seek Him! It is a beautiful opportunity, and one we (I!) should do much more often!

5:55 a.m... try a one-week challenge to rise early and see how it changes your mornings...I'm definitely in!

“but swing the door wide open and pray to your Father in secret, and every public thing will be stamped with the presence of God. -Oswald Chambers

"We are never nearer Christ than when we find ourselves lost in a holy amazement at His unspeakable love." (John Owen)

Studying the Holy Spirit-Part One

I don’t know how most 20-30 year olds feel about their “head pastor” but we at Grace Baptist Church of Millersville adore ours. Last night he started a 6 part series (meeting every other week) on the Holy Spirit and around 20 of us crammed into a room to learn under him. I was so encouraged by those who came, their overt desire to learn and understand, and their deep appreciation for the intellect that God has given to Joel. I heard several people comment on the depth and  variety of his tangential thoughts, and express gratitude for the way he develops and cultivates his mind.

So I thought it would be beneficial to type up some of my notes for those who miss the study, and for those who want to learn along with us via the world wide web. Realize that the study is about two hours long, and I’m just giving you the “bones” of it.Snails

We started the night brainstorming facts we knew about snails, verses our actual experiences with snails and used that to segue into and a discussion about the difference between knowing and experiencing. What does it feel like to know the Holy Spirit? To experience Him? Should I be able to speak in tongues? Should I be expecting God to speak to me in dreams? Am I missing out if that doesn’t happen?

Before I go on, let me insert that our Pastor is very secure in his cessationalistic thinking. He will be teaching from this view found and supported by the Scriptures. Though he verbally and humbly recognized that there are good, godly, brothers and sister of the faith who disagree with him…and he added, “and the Apostle Paul”. 🙂 He’s a funny one that Joel.

We went on to discuss the Theology Pie (see my messy notes below!) (also I spelled Pneumatology wrong!)  and pointed out that out of this pie, and the utensil we use to partake of it (Holy Spirit) spiritual gifts is a very small part! We went on to discuss why we make such a big deal about such a “small thing”. After we made some observations here, Pastor Joel carefully articulated this truth:

PieDuring this study, as we discover the purpose of the Holy Spirit and the direction it takes us, we will also seek to discover the purpose and direction of the gifts of the spirits. If the gifts of the spirit ever take us in a different direction than the one the Spirit is taking us-there is something very wrong.

After this we then discussed reasons why the Holy Spirit himself (not itself-we get fined for calling him an “it”!) is so neglected.  He is ambiguous; there are evidences for the life of Jesus, philosophical truths to reason for God, but what about the Holy Spirit?

Next was a dip in systematic theology as we looked at the following passages asking “Who He is”, “How He Comes” and “What He does”:

  • John 14:16-17
  • John 14:25-26
  • John 15:26-27
  • John 16:7-11
  • John 16:12-15

Who He is– The Spirit of Truth, Another Advocate, Helper, the Holy Spirit, Counselor, Partner

(one of many wonderful side notes that Pastor Joel made was about the difference between the Old Testament language and the New Testament language and why in the Old Testament “the Spirit of God” is used instead of “the Holy Spirit”)

How He Comes-Through the Father, Through the Father via the request of the Son, From the Son

What He Does– Helps, advocates, teaches, reminds the apostles, testifies, bears witness of Christ, convicts concerning guilt, righteousness, and judgment, guides to truth, declares things to come, glorifies Jesus.

We spoke of the roles of the trinity, who though are completely equal, have clearly defined roles. The Spirit’s role and delight is to do the will of the Father and of the Son. We don’t need to sing songs all about the Spirit and worship the Holy Spirit because the Spirit wants us to worship the Son. Imagine a late night visit to the Washington Monument. Is the purpose of the light being shone on it to say “wow, look at these lights!”? No! Of course not! Be grateful for them, because it’s only through them that you can see the monument, but it’s purpose is for you to relish in the splendor of the monument’s architectural magnitude. In that same manner, the Holy Spirit is a flood light whose greatest joy is for you to behold the glory and majesty and dominion of Jesus. If you adore Jesus Christ, then you are in step with the Holy Spirit!