Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in His holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not set his mind on what is false, and who has not sworn deceitfully. Psalm 24:3-4
I went down South this weekend. There was a ladies’ retreat at Oak Island, NC, and I went there fully expecting to meet God. I had my Bible, pens and notebooks at the ready. One of the notebooks I carried with me is entitled, “God Moments.” The idea for this journal was birthed about eight months ago. The plan was to review every single journal (all 15 of them) looking for those times when God made His presence known in my life. Those times were to be recorded in a special journal, so they wouldn’t get lost amongst my many words. I hoped it to be a faith building exercise. And I can say in truth, that it was. Operation journal review was complete as of this past Thursday, and my God moments notebook has entry after entry. Evidence of an almighty God’s handiwork all along the way.
And so, this weekend I was expectant. I just knew that on the heels of completing this charge (and a charge it was, for I’m certain the idea of journal review came from God), that I would enter His presence in some way over the course of the weekend. And sure enough, He showed up. Friday evening, there was a God moment. And through Saturday, He spoke in other ways. And so, by Saturday evening, my fingers were itching to etch out what I had experienced already. With a little time to spare, I made my way to the water’s edge with all my “God supplies.” Bible – check. Pen – check. Journal – check. God Moments notebook – check. And I settled down on a not so comfortable bench. I buried my head in my notebook, and had the pen ready. But then, I was assaulted. By gnats. More than I could count. They were everywhere alighting on every surface of my exposed skin. I inhaled them as huffed in annoyance! Irritated beyond measure, I thought that I would write in my journal anyway. I was not going to be dissuaded from the task at hand because I was doing a God thing – getting ready to record God moments. I did my best, till a gnat bit my hand. My writing hand. And it stung. That’s when I relented, and gathered my stuff. That’s when I said out loud, “Are you kidding me???” And so, I decided to move on down to another bench.
But then as I walked… I saw. There was the sun. And suddenly, my plan and my written words didn’t seem so important. Because the sun beckoned me. I had witnessed its glorious appearance that morning. I reveled in its warmth upon my skin. But alas, I quickly forgot it was there. Because it’s always there. So regular is the sun’s appearance that I take it for granted. And so, when it appeared to me again that evening, I was somewhat taken aback. Because I saw it anew. I was captivated by its display and a holy hush settled upon me. As the sun slowly sank towards the clouds on the horizon, I felt drawn to it. So I bypassed the benches and looked to an inviting patch of grass. I took off my sandals and sank to the ground. And there, I quietly watched.
When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called out to him from the bush, “Moses, Moses!” “Here I am,” he answered. “Do not come closer,” He said. “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:4-5
I didn’t know it then, but the grass on which I was reclined was holy ground. Because not only was I in the presence of the sun, but I was also in the presence of the Lord. And He, like the sun, is always there. I go to Him in the morning, but then, I quickly forget Him. Because I take Him for granted. I get busy and set on my plans. I get engrossed in my words. But He’s there. He beckons me. He draws me. He vies for my attention. He waits for me to bypass the benches in life, and sit on a patch of earth with Him.
Saturday evening, God’s creation gave witness to His glory. As the sun sank lower and lower, it lit up the water brighter and brighter. Subtle peach turned to brilliant orange vividly contrasted against dark, murky waters. And then, the most astounding thing happened. The calm water began to move. At first, I didn’t know what it was. There was a crash that startled me. And then, water began to roll. Waters billowed and began to heap up faster and faster crashing onto the walls surrounding it. This calm body of water on the sound side of the peninsula moved ferociously, though I couldn’t find a reason for it. Not a boat was in sight, and yet, the waters rolled.
I almost missed it all. I had been on the other side of a house, sitting on a bench with my head down in a notebook. I was completely engrossed in what my plans were, and completely oblivious to what was taking place around me. So intent was I on journaling about God moments, that I almost missed a very real God moment. And so, when I roused from my stupor, my spirit echoed the words of Jacob… “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” (Genesis 28:16) For God moments abound. And God surrounds. The lesson I learned… open my eyes! Be still and look around. For creation magnifies the glory of the Lord. Had it not been for a swarming mass of gnats on Saturday evening, I would have missed the sunset. Had it not been for the gnats, I would have missed God!
As a side-note, I’d like to mention just before sunset was the only time I encountered gnats throughout the entire weekend. At first, I thought they were sent from the hounds of hell to distract me from my God stuff. But now I see. God sent them. For those pesky creatures moved me from where I sat. They prompted me to move further along and around a corner so I could see better. And when I finally lifted my eyes, I saw what He wanted me to see. I saw Him.
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims the work of His hands. Day after day they pour out speech; night after night they communicate knowledge. There is no speech; there are no words; their voice is not heard. Their message has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens He has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a groom coming from the bridal chamber; it rejoices like an athlete running a course. It rises from one end of the heavens and circles to their other end; nothing is hidden from its heat. Psalm 19:1-6