I owe much to Grandma Charlotte who got me started in my walk with God. In time, I learned that God could be close and personal, as well as scientific and rational. Fast forward to my 50’s and life is good. Maybe too good and too easy. Emotionally and spiritually things started to go sideways. I needed help. Eventually I connected with a good Christian counselor. He reminded me where my anchor needs to be: with Christ. But easier said than done. I was distracted by work and building a house. My head and heart were in the wrong places. I remember a youth pastor recommending the booklet, “The Practice of the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence. I read it and marveled at how the medieval monk could feel God’s presence in his mundane, daily work. But it didn’t resonate with me at all.
My counselor helped me see that there was something missing in my walk. He knew my history and my voids by that point. He knew that my view of God as being distant and impersonal, was colored by my relationship with my parents and some early childhood experiences. He told me that getting past that wouldn’t be easy. It would take work. And so it did, lots of emotional work.
One day, he asked me to visualize a safe place from my childhood, and to go there. By this time I trusted him and was willing to be vulnerable. As I walked to my safe place, Jesus came alongside me and put his arm around me. I was surprised. But it was very real and comforting. We walked to a bench and sat down. I leaned into Him and He put his arms around me. I felt safe and cared for. It was amazing. I was practicing the presence of God. (Psalms 16:11) I began doing this at home every day, and experienced a closeness I had never known. Sometime later I was encouraged to unload or turn over burdens to Him. This went on for months. I remember asking questions while doing this, and to my surprise, getting answers! Wow! This was wonderful, and a healing time for me and my inner child.
One evening, as I was going to bed, I thought, “What if all this is just my vivid imagination? What if I’m just deluding myself because this is what I want to believe?” It’s scary to have doubts; especially doubts that could undo my faith. Not the first time I had doubts. But I went ahead anyway. Sitting up in bed with the lights off, I said, “Father, show me this is real, as only You can do.” I laid back and closed my eyes. Almost immediately, I felt visually lifted higher and higher in the sky until I was in the upper atmosphere. I felt like I was in the middle of the northern lights. I was being carried up into them, then through them, then above them. I was surrounded by these lights and a feeling of euphoria and well-being. I thought of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:2, being “taken up to the third heaven”. This went on for several minutes, maybe longer. Finally, I said, “Okay. I’ve got your point.” And I was back in bed. Wow! How do I explain this away? I can’t. Nor do I want to. It has become one of the many deeply personal experiences of God’s presence.
Maybe a year later, I was visiting my counselor, and complaining about a technical work problem. In a building I had designed, City Light said that the building’s power factor was in a leading condition and impacting their network protectors. We needed to fix it. I had researched the issue and kept running into dead ends. I was really stressed and said so. My counselor just smiled and said, “Have you taken this to Jesus?” I looked at him in disbelief. “This is a work issue; a technical problem.” He just smiled, and pointed outside, “Who do you think made all this?” I looked outside, and realized he was right. Jesus is the great architect, engineer and designer. It was like a Helen Keller moment. It was an “Aha!” moment. (Acts 9:18) Now I realize I can take anything to Him, not just spiritual issues. And, true to His promise, He helped me remember how to fix the power factor issue.
This is where I am today but my walk with Him continues, and Part 4 is a work in progress.
*This is the seventh in a series called Faith Beginnings.