This past summer has been one of many emotions; awe, love, loneliness, amazement, wonder, gratitude, and many more. Out of all those emotions one location continues to echo in my mind. While sharing Christ this summer my path took quite the unusual route. From Shawnee to Ukraine, Ukraine to Davis, Davis to Branson, Branson to Chicago, Chicago to Kotzebue, then finally Kotzebue to Grove. All the miles, all the connecting flights, all the interstates driven and one place, one moment stood out.
It was the final stop for the adventure titled “Summer 2012” (thought of it all on my own) but it wasn’t the flashiest. It did not show the most promise nor was it the most amazing location out of the lot, but it had something unique. The special, or manifest presence of God.
I was listening to a Matt Chandler podcast this afternoon at the church and it talked about how modern day
Christians, let’s just call them church goers, and their lack of anticipation and expectation as they approach the house of God. He paralleled it to African Americans struggles of the 40’s-60’s. These African Americans in this time period were still being oppressed and segregated yet they made time for church, not hoping for God to manifest Himself but expecting it. Now did anything change while they were in the church worshiping? Did the “whites only” signs get taken down, did the segregated schools suddenly open up to both races, did the beatings of innocent African Americans stop suddenly after church? NO. Yet they still went, fully expecting to meet with the living God.
Now one thing that I had never heard was “special presence” or “manifest presence” these two are synonymous but they differ from the aptly used “omnipresence“. Omnipresence is that God being divine can be fully everywhere and not have to designate portions of himself to each place. It is part of being God. “Special” and “manifest” presence is when God makes Himself known in a clear and powerful way. In His omnipresence we still might not feel Him but in His manifest presence He makes known the fullness of His being.
That is what they hoped for, not for abolition or fairness. They went to God for… God.
The reason I mention that is that day 2 of camp in Grove Oklahoma, at Epic camp at the Grand Lake Baptist Assembly we asked for His manifest presence to sweep over the students of the camp. We sat and prayed for what seemed like an hour and we fully expected God to show up. We asked for it and we had faith that He would not hide Himself from us. And He didn’t. We were tired of just sitting through service after service just spectating, but in this moment all we could do was just watch as the presence of God began to touch heart after heart in the room. It was one of, if not the coolest feeling I have ever had during a sermon. I could recount all that happened, and person after person it was like God whispered in my ear, “Is this what you wanted? Well here is one more“. That sentence felt as though it was on loop as God poured out His presence like a faucet opened wide open.
You see God might not always pour out His manifest presence, but I bet if we asked more and entered into His house with humble expectations, we would leave that place of worship feeling as though we had seen the face of God.
“We must rush to the faucet praying that God will turn it on”