Granddaughter Fern arrived for an overnight visit with Grandpa and Gramma. She can reach the doorbell button now and usually takes great delight in pressing that device multiple times, but on this occasion Fern had a singular mission. She wanted Grandpa. As Gramma opened the door Fern darted across the threshold and burst into a full sprint. Her black and white Converse barely touched down as she covered the turf and jumped into Grandpa’s lap for a hug and a snuggle. I felt like the most blessed person on Earth.
Fern looked up at me with a wide smile then settled her head against my chest, content and secure that she was in a safe place. She had no interest in the toy basket or the stack of books on the shelf or the food in the kitchen. She wanted only to be next to Grandpa, and I would not trade those fleeting minutes for anything.
Comedian Steve Martin states that each of us is an idea machine. The experiences and stimuli around us trigger thoughts unique to our individual personalities. Those thoughts become ideas that, in the case of a talented entertainer, lead to comedy routines which resonate with audiences. I find the material of life flows by in a torrent, and once in a while I can capture a small piece for a deeper dive. My moment with Fern triggered thoughts of another relationship—how I approach God and my concept of His presence.
As I snuggled Fern I sensed God asking, “See! Do you get it now? That is the way you should come into my presence.” Ouch! Quiet time is often the first thing skipped in a hectic schedule, and when God does not deliver on my latest prayer demands I struggle to that appointment with hesitation and even some anger. In a flash, Fern delivered a powerful object lesson I am trying to put into words as a reminder, an admonition, or is it an invitation?
God’s presence. The term strikes fear into many hearts like those of Adam and Eve who chose to disobey God’s command. Up to that point they cherished their daily fellowship with Him in the garden, but sin entered the picture and the couple took a different path.
They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:8 NASB
The writer of Judges describes the event at Mount Sinai when God met with Israel to give the law. The people were terrified at the presence of God.
The mountains quaked at the presence of the LORD, This Sinai, at the presence of the LORD, the God of Israel. Judges 5:5 NASB
The book of Exodus expands the description…
So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Exodus 19:16-17 NASB
What were the people thinking as they took in the awesomeness of God? Trembling with fear they asked Moses to visit God by himself then report back the words. God’s presence overwhelmed them.
All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance. Then they said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.” Exodus 20:18-19 NASB
The psalmist, David, described God’s presence as a place of complete joy. David had discovered that in that place he could unload his heart with honesty and openness. As the hurt and disappointment poured from David’s thoughts God filled David’s heart with a sense of peace and indescribable joy. David could not wait for the next visit.
You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11 NASB
Believers, we have a standing invitation from God to come boldly into His presence. He always has time for us, and nothing we pour out will shock Him. He is our safe place. He understands. He has the power to help us and the wisdom to guide us. We must not allow fear or a sense of our own maturity to keep us from the child-like posture of climbing into God’s lap.
So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT
I plan to pay close attention as I interact with Fern. That little darling has much to teach her Grandpa.