I can still smell the pine mixed with cedar... feel the cool dry air. The Tamaracks were just beginning to hint at their golden glow which would be warn in full regalia as autumn pressed on. This place, this vantage, had held throngs of youth through long summer hours as they sang camp songs, flew through tree tops on zip lines and ran barefoot through the paths of warn forest floor. Cabin tops tucked behind aged trees where women had chatted on weekend retreats and the small chapel in the clearing at the center of camp had housed both hymnals and contemporary tunes singing praise to Jesus.
It was a blessing to sit on the split log bench and soak in this view. A quiet week nestled into the off season lull. A cabin all our own, set aside for Kingdom workers to find retreat and solace and search out the Lord; His will, His way, His heart. I miss those slow peaceful days with air so fresh you could drink it in to sooth the aches of the soul. Hearing His whispers, not just the breeze on the swaying trees. I come to this picture often and cast out all else that surrounds me to be on that bench once again, to see the ducks drift lazily by, the breeze ripple the glass-top water and contemplate mountain goats in the far folds of that majestic mountain range. I come to this picture to remember the Presence of God.
I remember your name in the night, O Lord, and keep your law.
- Psalm 119:55
As my youngest flirts with teen years she is coming into that age of realizing. Realizing her Creator, desiring His presence and lamenting when she feels "far from God". At first I was concerned when she would come to me with her off-and-on dilemma. Then I understood; her age of realization lends to noticing the natural wave of wondering why the presence of the Lord isn't always in an overwhelming, tangible flow. It is something every Christian experiences whether from the businesses or distraction of the day.... or the lack of dedicating ample time for Bible Study and prayer. Sometimes God is just quiet when we want to hear him speak. After all, how many times does David lament in his psalms, "Oh, Lord, why have you forsaken me?" or "Why are you so far from me?" If David, God's #1 of the day, felt disconnected, how much more so can we expect it at times.
I lean towards my daughter, to be sure she can hear the reassurance which pours from my heart and I explain all this and I sum it up in one simple fact: this.is.faith.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
It isn't always something we see or feel completely to our bones. Faith is trust. Hebrews 11 is often dubbed the "Hall of Faith" and as I talked with my daughter I recalled the many times I have had to visit the hall of faith to REMEMBER. No, I don't always feel God's presence, but I remember Him and all he has spoken to me, provided for me, comforted me and simply been.there. for me and I trust He still is even when I don't feel or see him. Abraham believed God, even when he could not fathom or see God's promises, and it was counted to him has righteous.... righteous enough to be placed in the hall of faith! And look at the great promises fulfilled as a result!
If re-visiting the "Hall of Faith" doesn't bring it full circle, the follow-up in Hebrews 12 does:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
It doesn't say 'because you SEE or feel God's presence run the race...' No, this passage points to the concept of remembering SO GREAT a cloud of witnesses. Jesus sets the example. After all, the fact is, we are foreigners here. We are removed from the presence of God as we stand in the presence of man and as a result remembering and trusting are key components....
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
- 2 Corinthians 5:6-9
The wonderful thing: we still receive the great blessing of feeling God close this side of heaven. When we are in one of those lulls crying out like David, we simply need to remember those times and step lively in hope on every occasion in-between.
My favorite place is in the presence of the Lord. My second favorite: in the reflection of those wonderful moments. In the meantime, I will press on...
I pray you may know and remember those beautiful quiet moments where God whispers and his arms are warm around you.