Longing for his presence
One of my favorite songs over the past couple of years comes from the folks at Bethel Church in Redding, California. It’s titled “I Will Exalt,” and makes the focus of the Presence of the Holy Spirit as the most important reality in our lives. “Your Presence is all I need, it’s all I want, it’s all I seek, for without it there’s no meaning.”
Amid all the noise and clatter of our current day – elections with political rhetoric, holidays with unspeakable clamor, distractions of every kind agitating for attention – I can detect this one quiet, unobtrusive yet persistent voice whispering deep in my soul – “Draw near to Me, stay close to Me, and I will give you the desires of your heart.”
That phrase was actually spoken to my wife, Marie, some years ago during a 2 AM encounter with the Lord while we were on a ministry assignment in Germany. She awoke with a start, shaking me awake in the moment, and informed me that she was with Jesus, in a vision, in the parking lot of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. The powerful Presence of God filled that bedroom, and I was overwhelmed, weeping and sobbing as Marie verbalized what she was experiencing. She and Jesus walked together arm in arm, and He spoke that phrase to her heart – “Stay close to Me, and I will give you the desires of your heart.”
Now, as we approach 2017 in a major personal transition, having turned over the leadership of the House of Prayer Northwest in Federal Way to a younger man, I find my heart returning to that invitation more and more. “Draw near to Me – stay close to Me. I am putting My desires in your heart, and as you draw near, I will actualize My plans in your life.”
As I muse on this, I’m drawn to Psalm 24 – “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord, and who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, … who has not lifted up his soul to what is false.”
There’s the key – lifting up our souls to false things. That’s what all the noise is about – trying to draw our attention and affection away from the one necessary reality – the Presence of the Lord. I’m recalling my own heart to the reality of the one thing, the secret place of the Most High, to seek Him, to know Him, to draw near, to put away distractions, to make the One Thing the first thing, to establish the worship center of my own heart, and then to see His Presence expand and fill our home and our community.
I’m taking time these days to come away, to seek Him, to listen, to realign and lift up my soul to what is true and truly necessary – His Presence.