The first time I recognised the presence of God, it was on a school walk. As I dawdled at the back of the crocodile of girls, I was aware of wind blowing through the leaves and the grasses. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed by His presence.
The Veil is Thin
In the Celtic Christian tradition this would be called a thin place, where the veil is thin. Sacred spaces are often beautiful, natural places where the barrier between heaven and earth seems ethereal and where at times the Lord God pulls the veil aside and steps forward.
This is how it was in the Garden of Eden, where the Lord God walked in the cool of the day with Adam and Eve. The first time they hid from Him, I wonder how He felt. How tenderly he called out, 'Where are you?'
We cannot fully know the depths of His feelings, but we are made in His image and so we can imagine in part. Perhaps it was a little like
a mother who is rejected by a child she has lovingly raised
a man, who adores his wife, but she is unfaithful
a person who waits for their close friend who never turns up
But the Lord God called to the man, 'Where are you?'
Genesis 3 v 9 (NIV)
I find that when I spend time with my God, the longing to talk with him is stirred up, but I am so easily distracted by the glittery and the glitzy.
God still longs for us to understand how close he is. He is never far from us, but we can be so forgetful and insensitive to His presence. He calls out to us, 'Where are you?'
The Face of God
Moses talked with God and his face shone with the reflected glory. He would put a veil over his face, so that the people wouldn’t see it fade. But Moses longed to see more of God’s glory.
Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
Then the LORD said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock.
When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.
Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”
Exodus 33 v 18 -23 (NIV)
David cried out:
Hear my voice when I call, LORD; be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior.
Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.
Psalm 27 v 7 - 10 (NIV)
For Moses and David there was still a veil between them and our holy God.
Through the cross our sins were forgiven and we received the righteousness of Christ, and so we can come into his presence. Jesus has made a way.
The Torn Veil
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining.
And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.
Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
Luke 23 v 44 - 46 (NIV)
The Lord himself has torn the veil between us, from top to bottom. The incarnation breached the barrier between heaven and earth. The crucifixion destroyed it. If we accept Jesus is the Way, then there is no longer a curtain between us and the Holy of Holies.
My favourite worship song with bagpipes!
Throughout my life, during times of intense worship, it feels like there is nothing separating us from our Father in heaven and that we are welcomed into the throne room itself. The light of the glory of the Lord shines so brightly that our surroundings dim in comparison as we worship the Lamb.
And for over forty years, wherever I have lived, I have found beautiful countryside to walk in. As I appreciate the beauty of the world that He has created, I find that the Creator, or His Son, is quietly walking beside me.
I am not special or especially blessed. This is our inheritance.
This is the Work of the Cross.