When I was reading a devotional on the verses above, it asked me to reflect on what it would be like to be face to face with Jesus, how I would feel, what I would say, and what impact that has on my view of today’s challenges and priorities.
As I thought about it I first thought about what it feels like to be in His presence now. Sometimes it just feels comfortable, like being snuggled in my favorite blanket with a hot chocolate.
At times God’s presence is an enveloping sense of peace. To experience that peace, we need to be well connected to the Vine (John 15). We need to trust Him with all our hearts, so we can let go of worry, fear, and doubt. We cannot know true peace until we have this intimacy with our Almighty God. It’s been a long, hard road learning to trust the Lord this deeply and completely. There have been times He has had to take me to a place where I had no recourse except to trust Him and Him alone. Everything I tried to do in my own power just made things worse. I surrendered it all, fell on my knees, and just kept praying – leaving it all to the Lord’s wisdom, work, and timing. It is only in the hardest of circumstances that we grow and prove our faith and trust in the Lord, developing this strong intimacy with God. I highly recommend the book, Intimacy with the Almighty by Charles Swindoll for a more in-depth look at what it is to have intimacy with God.
On a few occasions in God’s “presence” I have experienced an overwhelming joy that could not be contained! I just had to beam with smiles and laughter! It is rather hard to explain the way this joy feels. It’s so pure, so complete! I just felt utterly overcome by the presence of the Lord. The first time was during worship at a retreat. I went down on my knees to pray and this joy filled me and I just began laughing. The next time was after I’d been prayed for and I was “slain in the Spirit.” I laid on the floor with the power of God surging through my body and a total sense of joy and peace filled me. The third time was immediately after coming up out of the water when I was finally baptized as an adult. I felt a joy and strength that time that was beyond description.
In some times of extreme depression or of earnestly seeking God, He has manifested Himself to me in many different ways:
– the feeling of an arm around my shoulders
– the presence of a white dove outside my home every day for a few weeks
– a timely word from a fellow believer, inspiring me to read a particular Scripture or devotional
at one particularly low point in my life He even used a television show I was watching to speak a word to me when one character said to another, “Stop the pity party!” He does have a way of getting my attention.
Sometimes depression makes it difficult to seek the Lord. I remember the first visit to my neurologist. I felt God’s presence in his office. What a relief after all the years of highs and lows. I had been able to fairly manage my bouts of depression until we moved away from all our family and friends in 2010. It then became so severe it was affecting my physical health. After much testing, the results sent me to this neurologist. He was able to attribute most of my symptoms to a diagnosis of depression and anxiety disorder. The medication has been a God send for helping with that for me. Still, there are times when the only prayer I can get out at first is, “Help me, Jesus!” But that is enough to grease the wheels of prayer, so to speak, and let me focus on Him again. I cannot begin to imagine how someone with depression manages if they do not know Jesus as their Savior and Lord.
It is only because of Him that I am alive today. I was in such a deep state of post-partum depression after my first child in 1977 that I was contemplating suicide. I heard God (in my thoughts) tell me “No, you can’t do that, and you can’t do that to her.” He made it so that tiny baby who was too young to roll over or crawl moved from up against the wall on the other side of my twin bed all the way over to where I was on the other edge, facing away from her, and had her put her tiny little arm around me in a hug. God did a miracle that day with her and in me and took away the post-partum depression. My whole outlook on our future changed.
God shows up in so many ways, most of the time way more subtle. I see Him in nature all the time. I love to watch squirrels, they crack me up! Great for a quick laugh and that helps elevate my mood. Same with all the geese we have around here. They are hilarious! They will walk across the street in their own sweet time. They are not bothered by cars waiting or honking at them at all. The amazing appeatance of flowers like these that resemble egrets, ducks, doves, and monkey faces. How could something like this happen by “accident?”
Sometimes He speaks to me in the shape of a cloud. Recently I saw one in the shape of a strong arm when I needed a reminder of His strength.
If you’re in need of a sense of God’s presence or comfort just open your eyes and look around. He is wherever you look. Look around with expectation; seek Him everywhere you are, especially in the Word. Ask Him to show you wisdom and insight as You read His Word. Ask Him to show You the answers you need.
You don’t need to wait for a quiet place to pray, although we do need those daily quiet times with the Lord. Prayer does not need to be a formal thing. Talk to Him like you would to me, in your thoughts or better yet, if possible, in an outloud conversation. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation. Some people call them “popcorn” prayers. Something you shoot up quickly. Most of my confessions are like that. I don’t wait until the end of the day to confess my sins. Right when they happen, when I am aware I’m doing something wrong, I confess and repent right then and move on. Tell Him about your day, your needs, your desires, your problems, your joys, thank Him in everything. He wants to be involved in every part of our lives. Remember, Jesus calls us His friends (John 15:12-15). Remember, too, to take time to listen to Him speaking to You. In addition to speaking theough the Word or through a trusted, mature, believing friend, Holy Spirit will speak to you in your thoughts. Jesus said,
14I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:14 & 27 ESV
Most of the time, I just know He is there with me constantly like I am wearing Him as a robe and have Him as an implant at the same time. If there is an occasion when it feels as though God has departed from me, it isn’t because He has left, rather because I am not actively seeking Him. I have allowed depression, busyness of life, worry, sin, unforgiveness, or other things to block my vision of Him right there with me.
As I mentioned earlier, all we need to do is call out to Him and we will know He is there. He is always waiting to hear from us. But he also pursues us. The greatest example of His pursuit is Jesus Himself and what He did for us:
16“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17 ESV
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20 ESV
Before I give my final answer to the questions posed in the devotional I read today, take a moment and consider how would you answer the questions?
If you were face to face with Jesus, how would you feel? What would you say? What impact would that have on your view of today’s challenges and priorities.
I believe being face to face with Jesus will be closest to the overwhelming joy I described above, yet that is just a handshake compare to the all encompassing awe and joy we will continually experience in His presence for all eternity.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NLT
When my mom died in 2017 God gave me a vision of her dancing and laughing with Jesus in a field of blue flowers (her favorite color). She loved to sing in the church choir! She had been unable to sing for about twenty years due to congestive heart failure. He said to me, “Now she can sing.” I believe when we are face to face with Jesus we will be so filled with joy, awe, and wonder, that we will be dancing, singing, laughing, and falling down in worship in gratitude! But we don’t have to wait for heaven to do that. His presence is with us now. His kingdom is with us now. It may not feel like it when we focus too much on the troubles in this world, but Jesus said:
20Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” Luke 17:20-21 ESV
The Kingdom of God is with us now when we have Jesus as our Savior and Lord. He sends His Holy Spirit to live in each of us as a deposit of the future inheritance as well as being our source of all His power and presence here and now (Ephesians 1:13-14, John 14:23-27). Let’s live like the kingdom is here now (in joy, with His peace), while keeping our eyes also on the future inheritance, so we can keep in mind the urgency of our work to reap a harvest of souls and bearing good fruit that will last through the fire that reveals and tests our work (John 4:35-38, 15:16; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15). Stay tuned to the voice of Holy Spirit and obey Him when He calls. Then you will know the power, guidance, and joy Jesus promised (John 16:13-15, 23-24; Acts 1:8). Let’s leave a legacy of faith and salvation in Christ to the generations behind us, so they too may know the joy of the Lord’s presence now and in the world to come.
Blessings of Hope and Joy,
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