As I was lying on the floor during soaking this past weekend, I was imagining what it would be like for Jesus to walk in the room.
I’ve heard that phrase numerous times and even known one or two people who have actually experienced it. I reflect on a pastor’s testimony I heard recently. His church in Pensacola, Florida has been experiencing a, now regional, spiritual awakening which was punctuated by a personal visitation he had in March. During a Sunday morning service, Pastor Rick had an open vision where he saw Jesus walk in the room. Rather than jumping up and down with excitement or responding in exuberant praise and worship, he simply….”melted like wax.” Rick said the sheer weight of Jesus’ holiness and presence caused him to sink to the floor where he stayed for six hours as the Lord ministered to him. He said he was terrified, in awe and totally undone. It not only changed his personal life but ushered in a manifest glory of God’s presence to his congregation and community that continues to spread.
I have been thinking about this as I have consistently prayed in the last few years for God’s manifest presence to become more real in my life and the life of our congregation and community. I have longed for this and, yet, have questioned God’s ways in why He comes to some people (in a manifested way) and not others.
I have noted a similar pattern in many of these visitation testimonies. Many of these people have been FASTING and PREPARING in some way for God to come. Whether it’s a 7-day, 21-day or 40-day Fast, many of these Encounters have been preceded by some kind of personal sanctification process.
My challenge, however, has been in feeling like I’m “working” for the Encounter. Do I really have to prove my loyalty to Him by giving up food, spending hours in prayer and repentance? Is He counting the hours I spend in devotions or checking off some kind of preparation list? Where is the line between grace and works? Doesn’t God WANT me to experience His presence more fully? Why does He make me work for it!?
Now, as I’m lying on the floor, I’m about to get my questions answered.
I am at the back of the sanctuary, prostrate, with my face to the floor. I am so hungry for MORE of the Lord. I try to imagine, try to prepare, try to feel….something. The worship music draws me to meditate on Him and the reality that He is here, regardless of my feelings.
Then… for a brief moment… I can “see” the feet of Jesus and the hem of his garment come right up to me on my left side. I see his sandals, the white robe. I sense the rhythm of his walk as He has come to stand beside me. I feel His presence, right now, right here. I don’t notice anything else, can’t see any higher…but He’s here. It’s as if a veil was lifted for a few brief seconds for me to experience….Him. The spiritual realities of the other side are now right before me and all my senses are quickly awakened in a totally different dimension. It is so real and so powerful. It was unexpected.
And, what do I do?
I instinctively turn away.
Without even thinking, my face quickly turns the other way so as to cover myself. The reality of His Person is too much. Who am I to experience this? I feel unworthy. I’m not ready. Why has He come? Am I good enough? As much as I want this, I don’t….I can’t….I….
This experience only lasts a few seconds, but in those brief glimpses into the Spirit…
I finally understand….
It takes a while for the revelation to sink in, but as I eventually get up from the floor and reflect on the experience, I finally get it.
The reason He asks us to fast and pray…the reason it does take sacrifice and focus, is NOT because we have to “work” for something or prove to Him our loyalty.
The reason for these practices is for the sheer purpose of GETTING US READY TO RECEIVE HIM.
When that curtain is pulled back and we get FULLY IN THE SPIRIT, our flesh isn’t capable of responding rightly to Eternity. Our gut instinct will be to TURN AWAY – just like I did.
The reason we need to sanctify ourselves is not to go through a checklist of sins and wrongdoings, but to deal with our flesh, for this is the ONLY way we can even EMBRACE HIS MANIFEST PRESENCE.
I’m not even talking about obvious sins of the flesh, but ANYTHING that causes us to think or feel like we aren’t worthy or able to stand in His presence.
I can say with a clear conscience that I haven’t been living “in sin”, yet I know I’ve had major self-doubt and insecurity. I haven’t really walked like a true “daughter of the King” would. It’s not just the sins of COMMISSION that keep us from His holiness; it’s even the sins of OMMISSION that can become barriers to His presence. He knows that we will turn away, like I did, because our flesh can’t handle His presence. It is His love and mercy that withholds His glory from us because He knows our “natural” inclination will be to turn away.
I have misunderstood the purpose of fasting, prayer and preparation. A TRUE Fast is not just doing without food or increased Bible reading or praying. A true FAST is one in which we truly DIE TO SELF and walk IN THE SPIRIT. It is only when we learn to live, move and walk in God’s Spirit that we will have the capacity to not only experience His manifest presence, but enable us to receive Him, embrace Him, enjoy Him and not turn away.
I feel like I’ve been freed from my own human expectations and lies from the enemy. I know I was given an opportunity, if only for a brief moment, to get a taste of His presence in order to properly prepare for more. I now see fasting and prayer as an invitation into His presence, not a performance checklist that will qualify my acceptance.
God wants to come to us – in a very REAL way. But, we MUST PREPARE.
We must remove anything and everything that limits our capacity to walk free of shame, guilt, sin and any compromise that WILL surface when He walks in the room.
We’re not waiting on Him. He’s waiting on us. Let’s get ready and prepare ourselves.
For many of us, He’s right outside the door.