Finding Joy In God’s Presence

By Barbara Hollace

What does God look like? Have you ever thought about it? The picture that comes to mind might be from your Sunday school days as a child or a picture storybook a parent read to you at bedtime.

But how do you really capture the creator of the universe in all His majesty in a simplistic picture? The truth is you can’t.

More Than Tongue Can Tell

I’m not an artist by any stretch of the imagination. My artistic ability rises to about the stick figure level. Anything beyond that is merely a picture in my mind.

Over the course of my life, my revelation of who God is has been transformed from a stick figure character to a full-blown, color-exploding being filled with sights and sounds that bring me to my knees. It’s like the song from my childhood, “More than tongue can tell.”

Let me share an experience that happened almost five years ago, a moment I will never forget.

Restore His Breath

In the early days of January 2018, my husband and I returned from visiting family for Christmas. The flight itself had been uneventful. But our time at home had been disrupted by a freak ice storm, which resulted in a smaller gathering of our family. My mom was battling a long-term illness as dementia continued to steal more of her vibrancy. 

Even so, we rejoiced in those gathered around the table because that’s what we do as believers. “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4)

A few days after arriving home to wintry weather, the apartment owners were doing some remodeling work on-site, including changing out windows. I know, changing out windows and sliding doors in January seems a little crazy, but that’s what was happening.

My husband had developed a cough after our return and wasn’t feeling great. He insisted he was fine. The next day they came to change out our windows. It’s not a process that happens in five minutes. I had a meeting and was away for a few hours. My husband wrapped himself up in a blanket on the couch, but the cold air quickly overcame the heat that remained.

That evening, his breathing was pretty rough. But once again, he assured me he was fine. My husband slept on the couch that night because he wanted me to get some sleep. Early the next morning, about 4 a.m., when I got up, his breathing was even worse. I told him I was calling 911. He said we could wait. This time I told him no, I was calling right away.

As I picked up the phone and called for assistance, I also cried out to God. I laid my hands on my husband and asked God to save his life and restore his breath.

Like a Lightning Strike

When the paramedics arrived a short time later (the fire station is only about five minutes away), quickly they assessed he needed to go to the hospital.

I still remember how bravely my husband insisted he could walk down that flight of stairs to the gurney waiting for him below. As he looked up at me, I reassured him I would be there shortly.

In those moments, when the man you love the most in the world appears to be battling for his life, your faith in God becomes very real. It’s not like a foxhole prayer, a mere cry to God in my distress. [There is a saying in the military that there are no atheists in a foxhole.]

Just like a lightning strike, you step out of your own strength into God’s arms of love. His strength becomes yours. How else do you stay composed and do what needs to be done? Bill needed me to be strong, and God made sure that happened.

The next hours revealed that he had pneumonia and his heart was in afib (out of rhythm.) That night while in ICU, he had a heart attack. Three days later, he came down with Influenza A and the following morning had a brain bleed. And yet, my husband lived.

His Peace

In the days that followed, God revealed Himself to me in three ways: His peace, His power, and His presence.

Many of you may be familiar with the song “It is Well with My Soul,” written by Horatio Spafford, a lawyer and businessman who lived in Chicago. His young son died of pneumonia in 1871, and in 1873, his wife and four daughters boarded a ship for Europe. At the last minute, Horatio needed to stay behind to tend to some business. As the ship was crossing the ocean, there was a collision, and 226 passengers went down with the ship. All four daughters were drowned. His wife survived and sent him a telegram from Europe. “Saved alone, what should I do?”

Horatio took another ship to cross the Atlantic to get to his wife in Wales. As he crossed the ocean, he penned the words to this now-famous song. “It is well, it is well with my soul.”

As time went on, my husband’s health journey had many ups and downs. When the doctors would enter his room in ICU, they had sad faces, registering no hope. 

However, that was not God’s story. In those days of silence, when it was just me, and my husband, and God, and the machines that continued to support his life, God spoke truth to me. I learned to hear God’s voice like never before, and His words were always filled with peace and reassurance.

This would pass, and Bill would survive. Every day I went to the hospital and sat at his bedside and spoke words of life over my husband. I spoke the promises of God from the Bible. I anointed him with oil and laid hands on him, believing God would hear and answer. 

In the midst of the craziness of ICU, where life and death are only a breath apart, God’s peace surrounded us and radiated from Bill’s room. 

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

His Power

Power in this world is often associated with status – socially or financially.  In God’s Kingdom, His measuring stick is different. The Bible has many passages that seem the opposite to us, including this passage from 2 Corinthians 12:10.

“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 

It takes a divine perspective to delight in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties. In those days, weeks, and months, while my husband was hospitalized in five hospitals in two states for five and a half months, I learned to delight in all those things like Paul. 

I witnessed the resurrection power of Jesus Christ at work in my own husband’s life and in mine too. When it looked like a brick wall, the end of the road, God said, “I’m opening a door to a greater revelation of who I am. This will be for your good and My Glory.”

Bill became known as the Miracle Man because God miraculously saved his life so many times. This same power is available to you.

His Presence

We understand what it means to have someone standing next to you. Being in the presence of someone we love is one of life’s greatest blessings. 

How can we be in the presence of God, someone we can’t see? 

We won’t make this a theological discussion, but it is our spirit that connects to God. And when we are in His presence during prayer and worship, in a church service, the very atmosphere is charged with His glory. 

It’s like the story of Moses on Mount Sinai when he encountered the Lord and was there for forty days. When Moses came off the mountain, his face was radiant; it glowed from being in God’s presence. In fact, Moses had to put a veil over his face. (Exodus 34:29-35)

My husband and I learned to abide in the Lord’s presence during this wild, crazy adventure.  Psalm 16:11 says, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Love

It is only in God’s presence that we can experience the full joy of the Lord.

Lord, please reveal more of Yourself to me each day. Open my eyes to see, my ears to  hear Your voice, and my feet to walk in obedience to Your commands. Each day will be sweeter than the day before. I believe the best is yet to come. I love you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Barbara Hollace

Barbara Hollace is a Christian woman who loves the Lord. God has called her to be a prayer warrior and a writer. Her greatest joy is to pray for others and see God’s miracles happen. Through her own husband’s health challenges, Barbara learned that prayer can move mountains in our lives.

Her love of writing blossomed from an early age when she started creating her own greeting cards for family and friends. In 1985, Barbara self-published her first poetry book, “From Dust to Dust.” Since that time Barbara has been published in 25 books [as author or contributing author] and numerous newspaper articles. She has written 15 novels and is pursuing publication options.

Professionally, she is an author, editor, writing coach, and speaker. Owner of Hollace Writing Services, Barbara’s goal is to “identify the good and magnify it!” This includes helping a person get the story in their heart on the page, editing the story, and pursuing publication options. She recently opened her own publishing company, Hollace House Publishing, and will be expanding its reach in the upcoming years.

Barbara has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Western Washington University and a Juris Doctor degree from Gonzaga University School of Law. She is also the Communications Director for Spokane Dream Center church in Spokane Valley, Washington.

For more information about Barbara and her business, go to www.barbarahollace.com.

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