“Lord, I have heard of Your fame; I stand in awe of Your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.”- Habakkuk 3:2
There are so many blessings and beautiful benefits from being in the presence of the Lord’s radiant glory. In His presence we can receive a deposit of peace and comfort. In His presence there may come a word of wisdom or direction. And in His awesome presence we are invited to draw near, to call upon, and to receive answers to our asking. How rightly David says in Psalm 27:4, “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.”
However, there is another wonder that takes place in His presence that we can fail to identify or even choose to ignore, out of fear, discomfort, or misunderstanding the Father’s loving nature and will. There are times in the Lord’s presence that He is addressing, correcting, and shaping something. Jesus describes the work of God as a gardener in John 15:2, “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” What I would like us to consider is the process by which we move from a place of feeling condemned or unworthy in His presence, to a place where a purifying work takes place. I do not want us to see this as a tension between condemnation and purification, but rather a PROCESS by which our feeling of inadequacy and the stain of iniquity is touched and transformed in such a manner that we stand before Him perfectly pure and powerfully purposeful! It would be normal for every one of us to shake in His presence, to feel small in His presence, and to be exposed in His presence. But the condemnation felt either comes from our own (wrong) thinking of how God views us or from the lies and accusations that the enemy hurls our way. For in Romans 8:1-2 the apostle Paul concludes, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” If anyone should have felt guilt ridden for their life it would be Paul, who before coming to Jesus was a murderer, a mocker of the Way, and a persecutor of the church. Paul, however was transformed in the presence of Jesus. He encountered His undeniable glory and He received His glorious purpose. There was a process from self-condemnation to God’s (perfect) purification.
A question must be asked then. What does this type of pruning and purification accomplish, as it comes at times with such labor, wrestling, discomfort, and even pain/loss? The answer is GROWTH. That our coming to the Lord and casting off the old self is creating space for a new person to be grafted into shape (and a solid one at that). In Ephesians 4:22-24 we are commanded to, “put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
As we consider this holy metamorphosis, I want us to recall the natural processes of growth all around us that come with a shaking off and fighting through. In the animal kingdom we would know that a snake or lizard sheds its hide regularly due to the fact it has outgrown its previous skin. It wriggles and even rubs itself against sharp objects because it has become too big for the skin it once occupied. And the hermit crab as it grows, must discard the shell it has outgrown and locate a larger model to dwell in. With the snake and the crab, there is no thought or desire to find and return to the former model. In the human development, we identify how as children that a baby tooth gives way to adult teeth. That adult tooth breaking through the gums and taking residence where a temporary fixture once was is necessary for the entire design of our frame. Again, like these natural acts of growth (in the animal kingdom and human development) our stripping of old things and growing in the Lord does not come pain-free or cost-free, but they will free us up to become the full measure of who He created us to be.
So, let me encourage you this day to enter His presence with an openness to let Him work in your life and to weed out those things that are keeping you small and stuck. A starting place in His presence can be a prayer of surrender as you ask the Lord, “Lord, where is an area that you want me to “grow up” from childish ways?” The Lord will show us and help us with areas like pride, patience, lust, greed, anger, doubt, people pleasing, filthy speech, the need for joy and gratitude, humility, forgiving someone, and more. I Corinthians 13:11 tells us, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” Let’s enter the Lord’s beautiful presence to be pruned and prepared for something bigger and better!