Thursday, March 27, 2014

In His Presence

As a counselor, I have the privilege of listening to the sacred stories of my clients. Many of those stories are filled with pain and brokenness. Recently, I began counseling a client with a severe abuse history. From childhood right up until early adulthood, this client's life was filled with fear and anxiety. By God's grace she was able to marry a man whose compassionate heart allowed her to be herself and receive support and encouragement. In one of our last sessions she shared with me the story of her near death experience after a horrible car accident. There have been many books written and quite a few T.V. interviews with people who have had such an experience. However, to actually talk to someone face to face about their personal encounter with God was life changing. As I listened intently, her story captured a familiar Biblical pattern experienced by those who had encounters with God. My client remembers being face down and not able to move any part of her body, not even to lift a finger. She then heard the familiar words, "Do not be afraid" as she was lifted up off the ground. She knew in her spirit where she was and that God was speaking to her but it took time for her mind to stop racing and catch up. God spoke to her about her healing and just before she returned to earth, He told her He loved her. She reported that those words, "I love you" poured through her spirit like "liquid honey." I must admit I was awestruck and filled with joy for her. However, at the same time I felt somewhat envious. Here was someone that experienced what I believe we all have a desire for, to be in God's presence face to face. I began to feel sorry for myself and see my life and ministry as having little impact. Last weekend I traveled to New Jersey to officiate the wedding of my cousin. After the service, people came up to me and the comments were overwhelming. One gentleman, a doctor, was particularly impressed and stated he had never heard a service like that in all his years of living. After returning home I began to ponder what had happened at that service. Why were the comments so powerful? What I came to realize was those in the room were in the presence of God. The word of God going forth spoke to their souls. The writer of Hebrews tells us, "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12) It occurred to me that I am always in God's presence and I don't need a near death experience to affirm that it is true. The Lord knows what each of us uniquely needs to experience in our lives to bring healing in those areas that are broken and wounded. I believe the severity of my client's suffering may have required such a supernatural encounter so she could remember that experience during her darkest times of despair. In my case, the Lord needed to remind me of the power of His presence working through me to not only heal my own wounds but allow me to help heal the wounds of another. I am reminded of Jesus' words to Thomas after the resurrection, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed." (John 20:29) My spirit also resonates with Job who in conversation with God after his trials declared, My ears had heard of You but now my eyes have seen you." ( Job 42:5) I don't know how deep my client's faith was before she "saw" the Lord but I am grateful that God opened my eyes to see that no matter what I am doing I am always in His presence. 
Pastor Sheree

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