I treasure those moments when the amazing Presence of the Holy settles on me. Sometimes it is in the sanctuary, in formal worship. Sometimes it is in the middle of the night’s darkness. Sometimes it is just a moment in the middle of the day’s work. He comes to me outside of the confines of my reasoning mind. This is mystery! Yes, God is everywhere and His Presence surrounds me all the time, but there are just those moments that I cannot explain when I know Him, sense His love, and I am renewed in my hope.
God found a young woman in Nazareth. “In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.” (Luke 1:26-29, NIV) Yes, God’s Presence and Word is not always sweetly comforting. Sometimes He disturbs the peace, inviting us to grow in grace.
Are you keeping your heart and mind open to the Lord’s Presence?
Skeptics will insist that my ‘sense’ of the Presence of the Lord is nothing more than a brew of chemicals in my brain. They will read about the angel’s visit and a virgin bearing the Son of God with disbelief. That ‘reason’ will steal the ability to truly worship the living, loving God. It is not just the declared atheist that misses the wonder of faith. Many Christians will as well.
In an excellent essay, Kathleen Norris observes that ‘modern believers tend to trust in therapy more than in mystery, a fact that shows in worship that employs bland speech of pop psychology and self-help rather than resonant with poetic meaning – for example, a call to worship that begins “Lord, use this hour to get our perspectives straight again.” Rather than express awe, let alone those ‘negative’ feelings of fear and trembling, as we come into the Presence of God … we focus on ourselves, arrogantly issuing imperatives to God.”
Ah friend, let us have humility. Let us become like little children again; not childish, but child-like in wonder, admitting we cannot know all, that we are small and finite beings in a grand universe. Let us read the story of God’s love in the Incarnation with a heart of faith and a mind that is open to the mystery of things unexplained.
You may ask, “Jerry, are you suggesting we start to believe in Santa Claus again, too?” Of course not. I write of faith in the Living God, not in in the fables of our culture! While Santa may appeal to a part of us, longing for simpler times and happy days of the past, we do know that the fable is just that. The story of God’s revealed love in Jesus, the Baby born of a virgin in Bethlehem, is beyond fable. It is mystery, hope, revelation!
This season of Advent make time for the discipline of worship. Knowing His Presence will not likely just happen. We find Him when we seek Him, when we pause to become mindful of Who exists beyond our five senses and the natural world to which we are so attached. True worship goes far beyond attaching a Christian fish to our car’s bumper, or wearing a cross on our lapel, or saying a ritual prayer. Our God, Holy and Awesome, deserves and expects our trust, our devotion in thoughts, words, and actions. And, that is where the mystery comes in. He is eternal, His plans and purposes spanning generations, stretching across time to eternity, but we see only a tiny slice of time. When we try to make Him fit into our little boxes of preconceived notions of Who He is, what He can do, we make Him lesser and rob ourselves.
Are there some who work at discouraging you, whose criticism causes you doubt or fear?
Are God’s ways mysterious to you, your vision so limited that you will not worship Him?
Bow in humble reverence, magnify God in sincere praise.
Remember, “It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty!”
Make His Name glorious! Worship His majesty. Accept the mystery.
Here is a word from the Word – my prayer for you today. “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:17-19, NIV)
(Ron Kenoly will lift your heart into the Presence. Listen!)
Majesty, worship His majesty!
Unto Jesus be all glory,
Honor, and praise.
Majesty, kingdom authority,
Flow from His throne,
Unto His own, His anthem raise!
So exalt – lift up on high –
The name of Jesus.
Magnify- come glorify –
Christ Jesus, the King!
Majesty, worship His majesty!
Jesus who died, now glorified,
King of all kings!
Jack Hayford © 1981 New Spring (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)
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