I’m going to be completely honest ~ things have been really hard lately. And before you decide to skip over the rest of this blog because it might sound too depressing, please keep reading. Why? Because I want to share a secret with you ~ something that has transformed me and the way I see these really hard days.
I was raised in a Christian home and decided at a young age that I wanted to be a follower of Christ, to accept His death on the cross as payment for my sins. I’ve been in church all my life. But as a Christian, we never just arrive. You never get to the point where you’re close to God and think, “O.K. I’m good. This is close enough.” When you get to know God for who He really is and just how much He loves you, you want more. More of Him. More time with Him. More revelation. More healing. More of everything good that He is and has in store for you.
I’ve had times in my life that were so incredibly difficult, all I could do was cling to Jesus. I felt I had no one to turn to, no one who really understood me, no one who wouldn’t judge me. I would cry and pray and beg Him just to talk to me, to say anything at all. Everything was so bleak around me that He was the only light in my dark world. Like a moth to a flame, I would cling to Him, knowing that if He spoke to me, whatever He said, I would be ok because the words were coming from the Creator of the universe and the lover of my soul. I just wanted Him. Of course, I wanted Him to make things better and change my circumstances. But above all else, I just wanted Him. Just to sit in His presence.
And now I find myself going through another incredibly difficult time. My Father is withdrawing more into himself since COVID-19 has temporarily closed Grace Arbor and he’s starving for social interaction. The Alzheimer’s is progressing. He needs more help. And he’s going to need even more.
So what does a person do? We all know a caregiver’s life is very hard and very stressful. But that knowledge alone does not help me. In fact, there is no knowledge, no words that will make it better. I need something more. I need something more powerful than what I wake up to every day. I need…
I need His presence. I need Him to melt away my stress, erase my exhaustion and transform me so I can handle every day. I need to be reminded that my circumstances are temporary and God understands everything I’m going through. I know He loves me. But some days, I need to feel Him hug me.
But how do I get there? How do I find His presence?
I’ve learned that God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). So I’ll put on some worship music, (Bethel is a favorite) close my eyes and sing to God. I talk to Him, like He’s sitting right beside me. I might say, “Lord, come into this place. I want Your presence here with me. I welcome You Holy Spirit right now.”
And then I listen. I wait on Him. I give Him time to speak to me, not just a five-minute swatch of my morning. Sometimes He won’t say anything, He’ll just make me so aware of His love for me. Sometimes He gives me dreams. Sometimes He’ll lead me to a verse in the Bible to encourage me, like Psalm 27:1 or Job 17:9.
There are times in the day that my stress level is high. So I’ll try to stop what I’m doing, invite God into whatever situation I’m in and ask Him to make His presence known.
This is how I do it. This is how I feed my Father, bathe him, dress him, help him brush his teeth, help him use the restroom, clean up his messes, take him out and wheel him all over the place, help him stand up, sit down without falling and put him to bed. This is how I do it.
I am no better than you. And God doesn’t love me more than He loves you. His presence that’s available to me is available to you. If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, then you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you. But no matter where you are in your spiritual journey, I can tell you one thing.
He wants you to know just how much He loves you. And I don’t mean the warm and fuzzy, isn’t that sweet kind of love you might see on a Hallmark card you got from your grandmother. I mean the kind of love that stares you in the face, sees you to your very core, knows all your faults, weaknesses and sins and loves you anyway. The kind of love that lets you bare your soul. The kind of love that’s safe.
You don’t have to be a super Christian to experience His presence. You just have to believe and ask Him. There is so much He wants to say to you.
“My love is a living force…You don’t need to strive to enter my love. Stepping in is as simple as leaning in and trusting that My faithful love greets you in reply. Believe that I never turn my ear from your cry, that My presence overflows with peace that surpasses understanding. Allow yourself to feel the glory of this love.” (I Hear His Whisper ~ The Passion Translation)