Just recently, the church my husband and I attend encountered an exciting transition: a new pastor was chosen. From the first Sunday our new pastor spoke, the manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s Presence was palpable, the air was sweet with the breath of God, the knowledge of the Holy was alive, the hearts of His people were forever changed, and the chase to catch that preeminent, desirable, beautiful Presence was on. After having been starved for quality pastoral leadership for some time, this Spirit-inspired, God-ordained man infused hope into spiritually hemorrhaging lives and passion in the pursuit of God. My soul elated, I stood ready. Ready to worship with abandon, ready to take my place in serving my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, ready to do God’s will, ready to seek His face at all cost.
Yet, as I stood in Presence of the Almighty this past Sunday, something was wrong. As the rest of my fellow worshipers were enthralled in the overwhelming power of God that had taken over our meeting and moved with such force as to re-order the structure of the service, I stood dormant, feeling stale and stagnant in my soul. “God, where have I missed the mark?”, I cried out silently. “I championed this ‘God Chaser’ movement within this fellowship, my heart follows hard after You! What is wrong? Why do You seem far away from me?” The unambiguous answer came swiftly and without cushion, “You seek hard after Me within your heart, but not with your actions. Why should I overwhelm your life with My Presence when you won’t seek Me with your time? Draw near to Me, and I will draw near to you. My holy manifest Presence is for those that will not put My work above My face. I blessed you with a gift for writing and a love for reading: you’ve let it take My place.” I winced, but dared a reply. “Uh, Lord, haven’t we discussed this before?” (See archive Corner Cleanin’) But even as the words escaped the lips of my heart, I knew the answer. “Yes, when will you learn?” Tears flowed. My husband handed me a Kleenex. I felt my Lord move nearer. “A broken and contrite heart I will not reject” (Ps. 51:17). My eyes were opened. I repented.
The service moved forward to a baby dedication, announcements, offering, and, finally, the sermon. The pastor now only had about fifteen minutes to preach, since God had decided He wanted to move in, rock the order of things, and show His face to those that sought Him with undivided hearts. I opened the Bible that laid on my lap, anticipating the pastor’s leading to a portion of Scripture. I looked down and saw that I had opened to Haggai chapter one and verse nine caught my eye. “’You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?’ Declares the Lord Almighty. ‘Because of My house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house.’” As much as I felt the pain of the Lord’s scalpel cutting deep into my soul, I also felt His love mending my heart. He was drawing me to Himself!
A dear friend of mine captured this process in the retelling of an oven cleaning project in her blog “Thoughts From Paradise”, “When you tell God ‘purify my heart’ do you just expect Him to zap it in the most painless method?…I know that when I ask God to grow me, I need to brace myself…but then I think of the end result, an oven that is as clean on the inside as it is on the outside.”
It can be so easy to see time spent researching, reading, and gleaning powerful insights on God as time with God. But while He can certainly use that time to reveal Himself anew, these are not times of intimate communion. The purpose of a writer’s research is to refine attention to detail, so as to accurately acquaint the reader with truth. Devotional, or “Face Time” with God is about you and Him alone, sharing intimate communion that allows for intercession, worship, petitions, conviction, repentance, reading, praise, thanksgiving, personal revelation, quiet waiting, and knowing that He is God. I need this time! In order to maintain a quality, consistent relationship with the One Whose blood purchased my freedom, I must spend time in His beautiful Presence – alone!
A few months ago, God had spoken to me in a still, small voice. On Sunday, the wind and the fire was host to the voice of God to my heart. The hours of my days are busier now than they were then, but I want His Presence to so permeate my heart that His fragrance fills my life, the illumination of His face to so shine on me that I reflect His light, and the intimacy of His love to be so infused in my soul that I can hear the still, small voice above all else.
O Lord, I ask that Your skillful hands use whatever tool necessary to do surgery on my heart and remove all that is not of You! Replace those things to even a greater degree with Your love, truth, purity, strength, and righteousness. Make my heart tender to Your voice, and may all I say and do bring glory to Your name!