Oftentimes we perceive God’s Presence and Intimacy with Him as “reserved for special occasions.” We justify this saying, “He is too holy to be troubled with our every day nonsense,” or “He is set apart. He is King! How dare I enter His courts with my unworthy and sinful self?”
I recently read Frank Peretti’s THE OATH, in which sin is personified as a hungry dragon that eats you alive. In the novel, the dragon’s “targets” are marked with a red spot over the heart that burns and itches. The Mark gradually discolours and becomes a festering sore that oozes black slime and smells like death itself.
I think we often feel like we cannot enter God’s presence because we, in our own way, have been Marked.
I wrote about it in an earlier blog, but this past year has presented me with some tough situations. All the pressure had eventually built up to make me sick — emotionally and physically. I felt so far from God! I know God is Healer, but somehow, it felt like I couldn’t be healed from the Mark I had on my heart. This Mark had sneaked up on me from behind, and next thing I knew — it was right there! The Mark that stained my heart was Lack of Joy. It made me feel so insecure.
The joy of God’s presence is one of my favourite things EVER! I absolutely LOVE being filled with crazy silly laughter just because of His presence and because of His GOODNESS! Holy Spirit often shares inside jokes with me. However, I felt like I was not only unable to enter His presence and taste that joy, but that I was entirely void of joy altogether!
The Enemy had sneakily woven a lie into my heart saying, “You’re not as joyful as you used to be and it’s because you’re not spending time in His Presence.” The guilt just heaped up in an evil circle — I was without joy because I could not enter His intimate presence, and therefore I was without joy!
Each of us carries a different Mark. For you it might mean Abuse or Drugs, or Adultery or Abortion or Alcoholism or Pornography. It might be Shady Business Deals or Family Feuds. It might be Hurtful Relationships or Comfort Food. It might even be something good like Passion or Ambition. Whatever it may be, you might feel as if the Mark you bear is a festering sore. It’s dirty and gross and shameful. You WANT to run to Jesus and make it all go away, but when you look down at your heart, you feel unworthy of entering His presence.
On Sunday, a couple of young girls and toddlers waved around flags during praise and worship. I suppose, to them, it was mostly playing, but as I watched them, Holy Spirit reminded my heart that this was how He longs to be worshipped — with reckless abandon!
I think we often perceive God’s presence as reserved for the Throne Room where you have to go to be judged. God certainly is Sovereign Judge, but He’s also a loving Father and an understanding Friend.
God wants you to spend time with Him! He doesn’t care what you look like or smell like. He doesn’t care whether you wear a tie to church or whether you dress in flops. To Him it’s all the same whether you have a crazy afro or neatly trimmed bob. God cares about your HEART. He just wants YOU. He knows you inside and out. He knows what struggles you face and what mountains you have to climb.
What God longs for and desires above all is for YOU to spend time with HIM. The good news is that you can! Jesus already paid the price! The veil that separated you from God’s presence has been torn. See what Hebrews has to say on this matter:
Let us then fearlessly, confidently, and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favour to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it.] HEBREWS 4: 16 (AMP)
See? You get to run up to Father and jump on His lap with your muddy feet. He paid the price! He has already cleaned up where your cheese-puff fingerprints are yet to leave stains. He just wants you to love Him, and be loved by Him. He wants you to worship Him like a child — without worry or inhibition. Look what Jesus said about the Kingdom and His Presence in Matthew:
God’s presence is real and tangible! He WANTS you to come to Him even if you’re Marked. In fact, the more time you spend with Him, the less painful the Mark will be, and because of Jesus’ blood, every mark that you’ve ever had or will have has been washed clean!
When I got home on Sunday, I took off my shoes and just as I was settling in, my phone beeped. It was my close friend Winnie. I’ve mentioned her in earlier blogs — she’s such a precious gift to me and speaks with wisdom beyond her years! Here’s the text she sent me:
Hey friend! This morning in church as we just worshipped God and praised Him, His presence was so tangible that the praise & worship session took longer than planned! So, as we’re just spending time in His presence, I started laughing so much! And so LOUD! Haha! But, as I’m laughing, your face appears and you’re smiling and I just couldn’t stop laughing. When all was finished, God told me that in the Spirit you are the most joyful person! And, even if the physical you feel like you don’t have His joy, His joy is full in the Spirit and will manifest in the flesh. This vision just confirmed full healing for you!
I was overwhelmed by God’s faithfulness! He knew what my struggle was and stayed true to His promises!
I invite you to seek out His presence that you might TASTE and SEE His goodness!
May you freely come to His throne of grace and put your dirty feet up on His couch. Feel free to bring your donut stains and coffee stains to Him — His blood is the best stain remover that ever existed! May you find peace in the nearness of His Spirit and may you find a home in His sanctuary.