Basking in His Presence
I was alone in the home office of my old New England farmhouse. As I watched through the dormer window, the tops of the tall pine trees across the pasture turned pink in the glow of the first rays of the rising sun. I was alone in the silence, watching and waiting.
It was the third day of my “people fast.” I had cleared my calendar for the week and come to God one-on-one, hungry for a deeper, more intimate relationship with Jesus.
I picked up a little book by Dick Eastman called The Hour That Changes the World, andwas reading the section about what it means to “wait” before the Lord. Suddenly, yet gently, I became aware of a presence in my office. I looked around thinking perhaps another member of the household had slipped into the room. But there was no one. Like Elijah, alone in God’s presence on Mount Horeb, there was a “sound of gentle stillness,” none other than the presence of God. I hardly dared breathe, for I was afraid His presence would leave if I moved a muscle and was distracted even for a moment. I focused all my powers on lingering and basking in this sacred presence.
Then promises began to pop into my mind: “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest” (Ex. 33:14, KJV). I remembered the story in Exodus 33. Moses was feeling the weight and burden of the complaining and rebellious people. To Moses’ question “Who will You send with me?” the Lord responded, “My presence shall go with thee.”
What’s more, He promised to give me rest. To me personally, this promise was second only to the promise that His presence would go with me. At the moment I grasped the promise that He would give me rest, I felt a peace and calm come over my body—a sense of relaxation I had never known before. Later my family and friends commented that when my “people fast” was over, they noticed a new look on my face—one of peace, calm, and restfulness.
A few weeks after God gave me this gift of His presence, a close friend and I were taking a walk on a wooded trail when she asked, “Elizabeth, what are you afraid of?”
Almost everyone has a fear of something—fear of loss, abandonment, the unknown, the future, etc. But when she asked me that question, I searched my heart for a hidden fear and couldn’t find one!
“Nothing, nothing really,” I said. “The promise that ‘His presence is going with me and He is giving me rest’ has taken away my fears. I can honestly tell you, right now, I’m not afraid of anything!” The only fear I could think of was the fear that I would lose that peaceful awareness of His presence. But again, a promise came to mind. “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20, KJV).
I remembered the experience of the young girl Ellen Harmon. In vision she was allowed to come into the presence of Jesus. She gazed into His kind face and was filled with peace and joy beyond imagination. When she had to leave and face the real world again, her guardian angel gave her a little green cord and told her to carry it always close to her heart. Whenever she wanted to see Jesus again, she was just to take out the cord and stretch it to its full length. She wasn’t to leave it coiled too long at any one time, or it would become tangled, and it would be hard to get it stretched out.* Ellen knew this green cord was meant to represent faith.
When I remembered this story, I knew the significance it had for me personally. This gift of personal presence wasn’t a gift He would snatch back.
You too can come into His presence at any time and stay there as long as you are willing.
Join me! It’s worth it!
* See Ellen G. White, Early Writings (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1882), p. 81.