In A Testament of Devotion, Thomas R. Kelly wrote about the sense of Presence. He recorded a testimony of John W. Rowntree who, after learning his blindness had no remedy, he left the doctor’s office and steadied himself against a railing. He “suddenly felt the love of God wrap him about as though a visible presence enfolded him and a joy filled him such as he had never known before” (p. 94).
I’ve thought of at least three times when I’ve had that experience of Presence during hard times. Once while walking the track at Asbury College, I fought to gain control over unexpected losses. It was then that God assured me He was and would be in control. Nothing changed except His flooding me with peace.
While prepping tax records, I occupied my mind with thoughts of our second son and the sudden death of his wife. How would he handle the boys and still work? On the recorder a song played about the holiness of God. A wave of God’s presence filled the room and my mind, assuring me of His watch care.
Standing by Bill’s hospital bed in 2010, I recalled a verse in Psalms. “O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” (34:8). I knew God would see Bill through Legionnaire’s disease with renewed hope and strength.
Those experiences are in the past. “Between the relinquished past and the untrodden future stands this holy Now…for within the Now is the dwelling place of God Himself” (Kelly, pp. 95-96). My assurance is in an Eternal God who does not live in time, but that is where He has placed me/us. For in the Now I trust God with unspeakable joy and peace. His divine Presence flows through me and give me a new song. “God of grace and God of glory, On Thy people pour Thy pow’r…Grant us wisdom; Grant us courage For the facing of this hour” (Harry Emerson Fosdick).