The presence of God has been my pursuit since I was 17 and experienced the tangible Presence at a concert at the youth camp I worked at. I had chosen to follow Jesus at the age of four and loved the stories, the songs, the gatherings, the potlucks. I was well-versed in Scripture, could find a verse in under 10 seconds (Sword Drills anyone?), knew the Roman Road, memorized the Bible, had a quiet time, and probably had some moments when God felt near, mostly when I was at Horn Creek family camp or out a Frontier Camp or somewhere in nature.
Once I was introduced to the tangible Presence, I was ruined for anything else. I only wanted the Real Deal. I can remember every moment of that experience at camp. A deeper place in my heart had been awakened.
From then until now, I have been on a journey of discovery. At times the progress has been slow and painful. At others, it's been lightning fast. And everything in between. I've been disappointed, bewildered, confused, discouraged as well as elated, hopeful, encouraged, impassioned. No matter the swing of emotion, no matter how dark the days have sometimes been, that seed of authentic Presence has not let me give up.
I'm on a relentless pursuit while being relentlessly pursued.
The cares of this world and the worries and concerns of the day muddy the waters for me at times. I lose sight of what pursuing Presence looks like and put getting things done in front of being. Good thing is, even in those times that seem many and long, God never lost sight of me.
He has been working behind the scenes and on the stage, putting reminders and sign posts when I needed them most. With every twist and turn of the journey, He has taken the good and the hard and fashioned it all into lessons and tools that form the very fabric of my being. He hasn't missed a thing.
For the last two years or so, I have been coming out of the heaviest fog of my life. Lots of things hit me hard and took me out. I didn't know if I would ever recover, ever feel normal again, ever break out of the debilitating state my mind found itself in.
I felt hopeless.
But God had given me a name through my friend Shelby a few years prior to this dark time: Queen Hope. Along with that name came a tiara and a scarf. I began to pick up hope-themed wall art and hang it in my bedroom. There were days when they were my slender lifeline to the flickering ember buried beneath a mile of ash.
Oh the ash. It was piled high, nearly smothering the flame beneath. Then just before the great cataclysmic event that created such seismic shifts in my life as to nearly render me undone, a word was spoken regarding the importance of removing ashes, how the priests had to take them outside the camp so that the fire could burn bright and clear.
So I dutifully began the process of gathering up the ash as I was able, scooping it into bags or boxes, writing lines and lines and lines of words in my journals, pouring out my heart, my grief, my tears, my anguish.
I didn't think I would ever be the same. I wondered if I would ever feel the fire again. I could only trust and wait.
Then slowly, small whispers of wind would come and a flame would rise up. More wood was added. More Breath breathing on the embers of my heart…and so it continued, bit by bit, nothing all at once or drastic, but a slow building and a soft fanning until the fire was burning brightly again.
Recently God told me to be the burning bush, the sign of His presence to whoever was drawn to a sign and a wonder of a bush that is not consumed by the flame. With that He has given me permission to be the passionate pursuer of His presence at all times and in all ways which simply takes awareness of where He is and how He is within and all around me at all times and a willingness to be uncomfortable, to embrace the unknown, and to simply be me.
This 30-Day journey, this AFT process, has accelerated my growth exponentially in the area of awareness. I am more aware of God's presence than ever before. His face shines like the sun in all of its radiance, and I simply get to reflect it to the world around me. I am a habitation of the very Presence that I have pursued and has relentlessly pursued me. My spirit is alive with excitement as my connection to the indwelling Presence of the Most High God is strengthened.
I am a burning bush; signs and wonders follow me because God delights in me and pours His love out on me...this will be my affirmation tonight as I breathe in Excite and reflect on the absolute goodness of God that is passing before my eyes at this very moment.
I found this poem I wrote here a few years ago that captures the essence of what I am stepping into during this challenge. I don't know how this unfold, but it's not my job to figure that out. I just get to say yes and then to burn with His presence, so that's what I'm going to do.
I yelled it loud, I yelled it long
From deep within
The song went on
Birthed in freedom
The moving Spirit
Ablaze with glory
Strength to draw on
Heart now tended
In singular flame
Trusting the restraint
In centered focus
Compelled by love
No longer striving
In His power
In the midst of
From Come to the Chamber