Wednesday, August 31, 2011
In Acts 17, as Paul was addressing the Athenians who had gathered in the Areopagus, he explained that the "unknown God" they had dedicated a popular shrine to was actually not remote, but very near (vs. 27). "In Him we live and move and have our being," (vs 28). I've always thought I understood the meaning of the apostle's words, but after what I experienced on Monday and continue to experience today, I know that I understand very little. I continually ask God to open the eyes of my heart and my understanding - my spiritual eyes - so that I can comprehend what it is that He is trying to show me, and what my experience means.
It is very human to want to understand. It's a comfortable place, a more secure place, to live with understanding, than it is to live in the mystery. So, realizing this, and although there is a deep longing and an unsettled-ness in my soul as a result of my recent experience of God, I am content to live with and to live in the mystery until such time as God makes my understanding complete.
Today as I sat in His presence, experiencing His closeness and His love, I began to weep with a sorrowful longing for my family, especially my sons and my closest sister, to be able to know the love and the closeness of God as I do. When you know Him intimately and sense Him so close to you - even though the understanding is lacking - all your worldly cares melt away. Nothing else matters.
I read Psalm 16 today and it speaks to my experience so beautifully. Perhaps David experienced God's presence and love as I have? "...in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
So, what was this experience I had on Monday?
As is my practice, I worshiped the Lord with music and using my flags; I prayed for Mike (our pastor) and the church and for a few individuals; I bowed down at the "altar" and prayed in my prayer language; and then I sat quietly and asked my Father in Heaven to speak to me. Usually He leads me to a passage of scripture or speaks words to me about a situation that then lead me into scripture, but not this time.
Instead of hearing words I became aware of a palpable presence, God's manifest presence in the church with me. I could feel it pressing on my skin. I could "see" it in my mind's eye. It was invisible "matter", it had substance and dimension and it filled up every inch of "empty space" between me and the walls and floors and furnishings of the sanctuary. There was no empty space, it was ALL filled with Him.
I wrote, "He bumps up against me - although of course He is in me and I am in Him. I realize that, although I don't always feel His presence, or "see" it, He is ALWAYS here - or there. He fills up everything. There is no "empty" space."
"'Show me Your glory.' That's what you asked of Me. It is all around you. Open your eyes and see."
I reply, "It is like a sea, Father! As though we live in an ocean of Your presence and your glory! It surrounds us; we breathe it in! We take our life from it! It is available to all! The Kingdom of God is here! It surrounds us. Wherever I go I walk in it, - and in You!"
As I typed those words the words of Psalm 139 came to my mind:
5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
Thank You, Father! You love me! Oh how You love me!
I've been remembering my first experience of His glory. It was nine or ten years ago as I was my baptism in the church was approaching. I asked God to help me to prepare myself for this rite. I wanted to be spiritually, emotionally and even physically ready. But instead of giving me something to "do" to get ready, God began showering me with His presence and His love in such a powerful way that I could barely stand up under it. I wept and wept for days on end. It was so intense I could barely stand it, but it was so ecstatically beautiful that I couldn't bring myself to ask Him to stop.
He prepared me for the ritual of baptism by convincing me beyond a shadow of a doubt that He was with me and that He loved me. I wonder if perhaps He is preparing me for something that is to come?
"You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it."
Lord, who am I that I should be so highly favoured as to know You in this way?
PS: To learn the amazing properties and shape of Laminin, the protein which holds all of our bodies' cells together, watch this video. It is fascinating! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_e4zgJXPpI4