There once was a young girl who lived in Southern West Virginia and during a revival meeting she came forward and prayed that Jesus would forgive her sin. Later she professed this joyful experience to her friends, and they made light of her experience. Previously she had planned to follow up her prayer commitment by being baptized, but when that weekend came, she backed out of being baptized and no matter what I said to her, I could not convince her otherwise. Now her story continues, and I don’t know what the next chapter was for her, but I know God still knocks; even if we slam the door shut.
There are times in life when we feel that God is so real we can see the divine in face of others and in the world around us. The beauty of the landscape reflects the creator’s heart and the sounds of the wind through the trees and life are like cymbals lifting up praises to God. There are times that we may feel that our prayers really can move mountains and uproot the forest.
Then again there are other times when God seems but a distant imagination. A bit like a distant noise that you only think you can hear. You think you know what it is, but in truth it could be anything, and you know this is so. One may wonder if there is even a reason to pray. It seems likely that all the help and hope that may exist in life is summed up in only one’s own personal being. So why should a person depend upon God?
Which experience is true? Is God within our breath and the sustainer of our days, or is this life more of an isolated and lonely walk —A walk that only the person truly defines?
I think this is sometimes the difference between those who become deeply faithful and those who do not. It is sometimes a matter of what experience in life a person listens to.
Now personally, I have come to interpret the quiet moments not as moments of God being at a distance, but rather as moments God is waiting to see what I might do if he lets go of me for a moment. Would a baby ever learn to walk if the parent never set the child down on its own two feet? Would we ever learn and grow if we never attempt to do what we had not done before? I think sometimes God intentionally gives us space. Sometimes God sends us to walk over the rocky roads of life, and with every step we learn of a greater grace and in the end God’s unfailing presence and mercy. The trick sometimes is simply to keep your feet pointed in the direction of faith that you were first set down in.
Our prayer in the celebrate insert reflects the ever present nature of God’s being within our lives. God appears to us in both directions. God is present from where we came, and God is present in the direction we are going; if we faithfully abide. Just don’t give up and don’t lose hope.
Our gospel lesson for this coming Sunday is John 14:15-21. Jesus is calling upon his disciples to keep his commandments and promising them the presence of the Holy Spirit. How are these two things related? How are you experiencing the presence of God within your life today?