“…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
Imagine the scene – Jesus returned to earth following His resurrection, spent personal time with the disciples, proved to those that needed proof of who He really is, and gave them further evidence of His indescribable love for them. Now, it’s time for Jesus to return to heaven and He speaks parting words to His disciples. Can you imagine being there, on that mountain looking at Jesus, listening to His words, and feeling such a tremendous loss related to His imminent departure? Here stands the man who brought sight to blind eyes, touched and healed lepers, spoke and dead people returned to life, offered freedom to those in many types of bondage, forgiveness to those courageous enough to be real regarding sin, transformed five loaves and two fish into a feast for five-thousand, with baskets of leftovers, and so many more acts of love. John noted that not even the whole world could contain the books that would be written recounting all that Jesus did while living on earth (John 21:25). That is one incredible thought!!! Who Jesus was and is, made it excruciatingly painful for the disciples to let Him go. Jesus let the disciples know that while He was going to leave them physically, He would be with them spiritually at all times.
I have been reinvigorated by both the simplicity and profundity of His presence with me, and at all times! While my daughter and I attended the Mother/Daughter retreat at Sky Ranch this past weekend, we were encouraged to intentionally think about His presence with us. I find it challenging, and downright impossible, to articulate even a speck of the awesomeness related to the reality of His presence with us! Truly, He is present with us at all times, at our right hands lest we be shaken, acutely aware of all of our thoughts, the ever-changing number of hairs on our heads, our concerns, triumphs, sadness, anger, losses, shattered dreams, physical ailments, and the list goes on. My heart has been drawn back to the simple act of talking with Jesus about more of the things that I think and fret about. For, in talking with Him about all that weighs on my heart and mind, there is a peace that He offers in exchange for a heavy heart. While challenges do not always quickly disappear following prayer, there is a strengthening that girds my mind and heart, knowing that I am not alone in my problems. While reflecting on past trials, I do remember the pain; however, what is foremost in my recollection is the sweet companionship I enjoyed with Jesus, related to my troubles.
Even though sharing our thoughts and concerns with Jesus brings comfort and peace, there is a deeper place He longs for us to live. Jesus said, “The sheep that are My own hear and are listening to My voice; and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27 – Amplified Version). I used to believe that every Christian heard God’s voice similarly. With time and maturity, I learned that the Holy Spirit speaks to people in different ways. The way we hear the voice of God is connected to our wiring. The way that my husband and I “hear” God’s voice is very different. He is aware of God “speaking” to him through the ideas that come to him related to work decisions, for example. As he implements these ideas, it becomes clear to him that the Lord is directing his steps. On the other hand, I receive very specific thoughts and words for myself and others. When I set aside time to “be still” in His presence, I will often have my journal and a pen, ready to write down the thoughts that I believe are from Him. Often, a scripture verse comes to mind, and in reading the passage, it addresses the very thing I am going through. Other times, a bible verse will come to mind for a friend struggling through a difficult season. It seems very clear from the passage above in John 10:27, that Jesus longs for two-way communication with His children. Can you imagine having a loving, intimate relationship with someone who only talked about him or herself, and rarely listened? The truth is that we cannot be intimate in a relationship unless it offers two-way communication. Each person must listen and each person must take time to share for a relationship to be intimate and meaningful.
My hope and prayer for you is that you will ponder the possibility of a deeper companionship with Jesus, through the Holy Spirit. In John 16:13, Jesus said, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” Jesus was able to promise the disciples that He would be with them always, because of the gift of the Holy Spirit. We hear God’s voice today through the promised Holy Spirit. Oh, may you listen for His still, small voice in the way that He speaks to you. In this manner, may your heart be overwhelmed with the reality that surely He is with you always! : )