Saturday, August 18, 2012

Vertical Church: Chapter 2 Manifest Presence

"Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory." Psalm 115:1

Last week, I wrote about Chapter 1 - God's transcendence... that yearning inside of all of us for the eternal.

This week the topic isn't any lighter.  God's glory and manifest presence.  I'll be honest, this chapter has a lot of weight to it.  I've read it several times now and my pages are covered in highlighter ink.  As I've read the pages again and again, I've come to realize how important these truths are and how central they are to the church.

As I've thought about His manifest presence and glory, I've come to realize how necessary both are to the church and in our daily walk with the Lord.  Let me share with you one example of God's manifest presence in my life...

In February of 2007, Joel left for his first tour in Iraq.  This was our first deployment as a couple, and my jaded understanding that being married to a military man was all fun and romantic quickly shifted.  I didn't know how I was going to cope as a "single mom" while he was away at war, let alone how I was going to deal with the gravity of what Joel was about to do while deployed.  My emotions were up, down and completely unpredictable.  The weight of all of the unknowns was almost too much to bear.

D-day came.  The day us military wives dread.  I cried on and off all day, but tried to keep things as positive as I could for Joel and our then 11 month old Grace.  Soon, Joel's best friend came to the house to bring Joel to the base.  We said our goodbyes, I shed a few tears and soon he was out of the house, down the driveway, and gone from sight.  

I remember Grace standing in the middle of our living room floor in her footie pajamas, like it was just another night.  As she giggled and played, I fell to pieces.  Before long, I was balled-up in the middle of our living room, on the floor, weeping.  I still can feel how my whole body shook - as I thought about the man I loved on his way to many, many months of unknowns.  In those few moments, I felt alone, afraid and without strength.

I called out to God.  Please Lord, help me.  I need You.  I can't do this without You.  Be with me.

For those of you who know God's manifest presence - who've felt it - it won't surprise you to know that in that moment of complete weakness and helplessness, God's presence fell on me.  He was near.

In the few hours that followed, God was with me as I talked with Gracie.  He was with me as I loved on her, read to her and tucked her into bed.  His presence was with me and before me as I carried on those many months.  He carried me through.  He was near.

Sometime, in the middle of that deployment, I came across a sign at a local store that summed up my prayer... my prayer for that deployment, the two that came after that one, and for all the times in between.  It hangs in my kitchen, and is a constant reminder of my yearning for God's presence in my life, His nearness.

We need His manifest presence.  It should be our desire as a church to have His presence, His nearness on us and with us each Sunday.  That's what I want in a church, and He wants that, too.  In Exodus 33, we see a glimpse of a conversation between God and Moses.  Moses was a great man of God, a great man of faith.  But in these verses we see that Moses didn't want to go anywhere that God wasn't.  God continued to remind Moses, to calm him by saying My presence will go with you.

I don't want to take one step in my life without the presence of God with me and before me.  I don't want to go to a church where God doesn't show up.  I need Him with me.  I want His weight on me.

1 comment:

Emmy said...

I cannot even imagine what that moment when he left was like.

Those lines you have are part of a song the primary age kids sing in my church.
"I am a Child of God
And He has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear.

Lead me, guide me, walk beside me;
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with Him someday."