Read: 1 Samuel 4
I opened my Bible and placed it in front of me on the table. The house was quiet - children still asleep in their beds - and I was determined to use these last few moments before they awoke to study God's Word.
My reading was in 1 Samuel chapter 4 when the Ark of the Covenant (a symbol of the presence of the Lord) was taken to battle by the Israelite people. I noticed first the reaction of God's people to His presence. Verse 5 says that they began to "shout." Praise was Israel's response to God's presence. It erupted from God's people as they stood before Him. And as I read this, I had to ask myself, "Do I still praise in His presence?"
As a "church-baby," I grew up on the first pew listening to my Daddy preach. I saw miracles firsthand - became an eye-witness to the power of God to invade a heart and transform a life. And I loved it. I soaked it in. Until I didn't. Until passion faded into apathy. Until my sense of wonder was lost and His presence became "expected" - dare I say "ordinary?" I began to take it lightly - see it as a small thing. I forgot the price that was paid to provide me with the privilege of coming close and in that - I lost my awe. Years later, I would find it again...when my life collided with the grace of God in a life-changing way and became fully aware of the undeserved gift I had been given to stand before a Holy God. And as I read this story I had to ask myself, "Do I still burn for Him? Do I long for His presence? Does the nearness of Him still take my breath away and breathe life into me simultaneously? Do moments with Him stir a song in my heart? Bring praise to my lips? Humble me?"
When the Ark is taken by the enemy in 1 Samuel 4 and Eli, the prophet, hears that Israel has lost the presence of God - he falls over and dies. Continue reading and you will find his daughter-in-law giving birth having just heard of the loss of her husband in battle and the loss of the Ark. When the child is born out of her grief, she names him Ichabod because, "The glory has departed from Israel, the Ark has been captured (vs 22)." The loss of God's presence moves her even more deeply than the loss of her husband. This reality brings me to another question I must ask myself: Would I weep over the loss of His presence? Do I value it in the way they did?
Closing my Bible, I quickly grabbed my journal and wrote this simple prayer:
To treat the familiar as rare,
To stand in wonder before a place I know so well,
To remember that what should be ordinary is also most holy.
Like a diamond of a wedding band worn daily and yet still priceless,
Made more beautiful as the hand wrinkles around it, aged by time -
His presence is a promise more precious each day.
May the privilege of abiding here never be lost on me.
And as I closed my journal and set down my pen, I wondered...
Do you still praise Him for His presence?