Last fall, I went to a retreat at a ranch in Sedalia, Colorado. The ranch we stayed at was nestled between the tree-covered mountains in a peaceful valley. When we arrived, I learned that my cabin had the nickname "Huff." I didn't know why that was... until the first time I took the long, steep walk up to it. Besides heavy breathing, one of the other amenities the cabin offered was an almost panoramic view of the sun-kissed mountains from the porch swing right outside the front door.
One cool, crisp morning, I grabbed a few blankets, my Bible, and a journal and swaddled myself up while softly swinging in the mountain breeze. There wasn't any cell reception on the ranch, so I was still going through withdrawals. But after a few days, the pressing urge to check my front right pocket lessened.
So there I found myself, maybe for the first time in years, completely still. Like, soul still. It had been a busy whirlwind of a few years- stressfully and relentlessly chasing my calling and striving to find and follow God's will for my life.
But a few days into my technological detox, after being constantly confronted by the magnificence of the creation around me and being temporarily released from the distractions of everyday life, my soul was finally quiet.
There, in that still moment, I felt a closeness with Jesus that I hadn't felt in years.
"Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16 ESV)
It's incredible how easy it is to forget the miraculous. Just the reality that we, as believers, have the very Spirit and presence of God dwelling in our chests is mind-blowing! By the blood of Jesus, we now have the "confidence to enter the holy places" (Heb 10:19) once reserved for the holiest few. The very presence of the living God is in us––but we can forget that so easily. Life can be full of worry, anxiety, pressure, and to-dos. It can be numbing. It's not that I don't know that the Spirit dwells within me; it's just that I get too distracted with everything else to really pay attention.
"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalm 16:11 ESV)
But there on that porch swing, I was reminded of the joy of sinking deep into the presence of God, of paying attention to Him, listening to Him. Scripture jumped off the page for the first time in years. Pent-up emotion came flooding out as the Lord reminded me of my story and all that He saved me from. Clarity finally came to my calling after years of searching. Peace descended upon my anxious and weary soul. The Divine felt... close, again.
"One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple." (Psalm 27:4 NIV)
A day, an hour, even a moment in His presence is better than anything anywhere else. And it isn't exclusively reserved for a postcard moment in the middle of a mountain range, either. It can be anywhere. Just slow down, eliminate the distractions, quiet your soul, and listen. The very presence of God is in you. Lean in, breathe deep, and focus on the reality that the presence of the living God is in you, with you, and will never leave you.
"Standing here in Your presence
In a grace so relentless
I am won by perfect love
Wrapped within the arms of Heaven
In a peace that lasts forever
Sinking deep in mercy's sea
I'm wide awake
Drawing close stirred by grace
And all my heart is Yours
All fear removed
I breathe You in I lean into Your love
Oh Your love"