Surely the Presence of the Lord is in This Place
There is no magic formula for this, no rubbing of a genie bottle or snapping of the fingers to make it so. It can happen so quickly and unexpectedly that you are overcome by a holy moment, a marvelous brush with a sacred presence.
And sometimes, it happens when you are wholly unaware of what you are about to encounter.
That’s how it went down on Monday, on that mostly empty beach at the edge of a rural Iowa swimming hole. It’s the kind of pond where you can’t see your feet, but you can feel the mud oozing up between your toes.
And right there, in the most ordinary spot on Earth, I brushed up against The Extraordinary. It was one of those moments when the weight of glory wings its way onto your skin without warning. It came on the summer breeze, and it hovered over my soul, and I felt the vibration of invisible strings on my insides.
It was one of those ridiculously wondrous moments when you hold your breath, and you look around to see if anyone just felt what you felt: an earthquake of the soul. And you know those aren’t goosebumps on your skin. They are God-bumps.
It wasn’t about the right worship music, or the perfect prayer, or the thundering voice of the preacher whose words hit you smack between the eyes.
No, it was just this: sweet spot of God.
At the time, I was reading Tozer, on my Kindle, when it happened. I was sitting on a banged-up lawn chair, with one foot resting on a sand beach, which was really mostly rock. And the girls, they were looking for frogs on the water’s edge.
It wasn’t about a formula, or a magic trick, or a manmade atmosphere that tries feebly to point heavenward. It was God alone.
Under the blue dome of the heavens, I read Tozer’s words: Always and everywhere, God is present, but most of the time, we don’t even know it. And what a difference it would make if we really did.
And I’m reading those words, when the sacred pays a visit. God. Right. Here.
I close my eyes, and for a moment, there is a holy hush, and only one Presence of which I am aware. Not of myself, but only of God. A single tear slides down my cheek, and I don’t wipe it away, for even this tear holds the weight of glory — a single drop alive with God.
Surely, the presence of the Lord is in this place.
“We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts.”
— A.W. Tozer
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This weekend I went to a camp with my youth group. I have been to this camp every year for the last three years of my high school career, but I have never experienced something this amazing before. During the Saturday night chapel, which is the climatic moment of camp, we took communion and just had this quiet, reflective time with God, which was really awesome and God really showed up in that moment.
But, what I want to share with you happened during the senior girls small group time after communion. This is when we kind of unravel and talk about everything that we heard from God. Sitting there and hearing about all of the junk in these girls have gone through was really emotional for me because I always thought they had it all together. Boy, was I wrong!
Somewhere during this time, I broke down and started crying. I have no idea why I started crying, but it felt so good! I honestly cannot remember the last time I cried. I tend to bottle up my emotions so it felt so good to let it all out. Pretty soon, every single senior girl was crying. And, trust me, it was not a few sweet, silent tears. We were all sitting on the floor, clinging to each other sobbing and bawling out eyes out loudly. It was probably not a pretty sight to see, but it was such a beautiful moment.
Our wonderful adult leader, Jennifer started praying out loud for each girl and we all hugged, held hands with, or rubbed the backs of each girl who was being prayed for. We were all crying so hard, I barely remember the prayer that Jennifer prayed for me, but what I do remember is my back being rubbed, my hands being held and being hugged. I am getting all teary eyed right now just thinking about it! I felt so loved and so peaceful and so cared for in that moment, even though we were all crying so loudly.
The real God thing about that moment is that before last night, there had been some division between the senior girls. We are all so different and we hang out with different people, but last night, we all came together and it was such a beautiful bonding moment. I hope and pray that the bond that we created last night will last the test of time.
I prayed for God to show up this weekend, and he sure did, in ways I never expected Him to.
Those God-bumps I wrote about? I’ve got those now, Tay. What an incredible moment you’ve shared here … a brushing up against the heavenlies, and God was right there with you. He is always right with us, but in that moment, you were given a beautiful gift of His presence. …
It’s a joy to see God at work through you, and in you, and around you, Tay. I’m so excited to see what God has ahead for you.
I love when we find God in the everyday. It WOULD be amazing if we really saw Him Right Here all the time…
I’m trying to keep my eyes open. It always amazes me when those brushes with holy God come unexpectedly. My friend Michelle calls it a “Holy Spirit Whoosh.” I like that.
True, that, Alicia. Thanks for stopping today.
I’m guessing you were at Lake Pajoha. I recognize it from the picture and your description of the murky waters and because God visited me there a few times. It was one of my favorite spots to go when I wanted time by myself. Just my Bible, a journal, and the peace God gave that pretty place.
You got it, Angie! 🙂 Yes, Pahoja. It is peaceful, isn’t it?
That was awesome, I definitely have “God bumps”
Nothing like a case of God-bumps to get you movin.’ Blessings to you, and may you have a God-bump-y day.
I Love those moments…and I so agree with Tozer! Beautiful!
Blessings on your day!
Thank you, Katharine. Blessings to you, too.
Sigh. I so love those moments. Tozer on your Kindle – never even thought of that one. I’m ordering it today.
Thanks for this reminder of the Whoosh, friend. Needed it today.
Diana! Great news … Tozer’s Pursuit of God is free on Kindle.
Wow! That was awesome! I could almost feel the last time God brushed over me like that. You captured that in the most beautiful and powerful way… Thanks, that was huge.
Thank you so much for sharing your God moment. The quote is now up on my dining room chalkboard. Thank you!
Yay! How cool. I think I need a chalkboard. 😉
I find that, for me, those moments happen when I am all alone – sitting quietly, listening to music or reading. Suddenly there is this almost physical touch on my wrists – this gentle pulsing – and the tears start.
I haven’t ever told that to anyone before. I am the one who is usually standing there feeling as though some essential ingredient is missing in me when everyone else is caught up in praise and talking about how they feel the presence of the Lord so powerfully. It isn’t until I get alone that I feel those things too.
Jennifer, you have such a gift. Your words paint masterpieces.
Gasp … This is beautiful, what you’ve shared here, Linda! And I’m so honored that you would share such a special moment with me. … I really understand what you’re saying, too … so often my most intimate God moments are when I’m alone with Him. Those are the most powerful times with the Lord, for me anyway. Thank you again for sharing, Linda. You are such a blessing to me.
You have me in tears. How precious those moments are, Jennifer!
The past year has been such a challenging time in our family. I’ve watched precious loved ones battle health issues, marital issues, financial issues…it hurts to watch those we love go through so much. It has affected us all. I want to be able to fix everything, but know that I can’t. It’s been difficult to “let go and let God” take care of everything. I’ve just felt emotionally spent. I’ve put up walls to protect myself from those emotions, and – unintentionally – shut God out in the process. I realize it’s up to me to change, and I know what I need to do. God’s helping me break down those walls, piece by piece. I’m sooo ready to feel those Holy Ghost bumps again. 🙂
The sweet spot of God and God-bumps. I love moments like this. Usually these sacred times happen when I am surrounded by nature…water, mountains, rolling hills. He always meets me there.
Beautiful, Jennifer. I have had those God-bumps moments, those quick instances that take your breath away and you know, just know that it can only be Him. I’m often so shocked with His intimacy, as if I forget that He is actually nearer to us than our breath. And yet I often do forget but in moments like these, those moments that are undeniably in the palm of His hand, I marvel and remember. Thank you for sharing these beautiful, beautiful words.
With children a few feet from me, I still need to shout to be heard. But with our God? It still amazes me that He can hear a heart’s whisper above all the noise I’m in.
So that’s my problem–not bringing Tozer as beach reading!
Seriously, though, I have felt that touch, heard that voice, always in moments of trauma or extreme need.
Jennifer – Yes, those moments when God brushes near – God-bumps, love that! Sitting at my kitchen table this morning surrounded by Bible, journal, school books, and homeschooling children was just such a time. Thanks for giving precious words to the moment.
I stopped briefly yesterday and downloaded Tozer’s book this afternoon. So glad you mentioned that it was available free!
Love those moments… “sweet spot with God”…I will carry that quote with me…
Love this and love those Holy moments.
Thanks for sharing about your “God bumps” experience. Love that term and reading Tozer!
I have had “God bumps” also and I am often moved to tears at how tender He is with me and my heart. So grateful!
Being always “in the moment” with God……kairos time takes us from the mundane to the very presence of God. Thanks for reminding us to always be in tune for those special moments.
Ahhh…Tozer. He was apparently in God’s presence so often that He knows the way well. And he shares it with us. I love it!
Ahhhhhhh, that’s lovely. I’m so missing those moments with God… I REALLY need some time and space alone with Him. Having 4 young children means everything (including every thought, it feels like!) is interrupted by at least one of them, and I just need some breathing space. Actually, I need some worshiping space!