The Nearness of His Presence

A few years ago I had a dream that I’ve never been able to forget or shake off. In the dream I was standing alone, admiring a small, white feather slowly circling around me. The tiny feather started below my knees and made a wide spiral, moving upwards, coiling around my body until it was in front of my face.

I was so focused on this tiny feather that I can still recall all the details, not only of the feather, but also the feeling of complete peace. The feather continued circling around my head until it floated above me. Before it could escape arm’s length, I reached out and grasped the feather tightly, refusing to let go. As soon as I had clenched it in my fist, however, it vanished, and in its place, a bright and beautiful dove appeared, fluttering directly over my head! As it beat its wings rapidly above me, I closed my eyes and felt the air sweeping forcefully across my face.

I then heard a gentle, yet authoritative voice above the sound of the beating wings. It was the Lord saying, “My Spirit is with you, My son!” His gentle voice echoed powerfully, imparting feelings of acceptance and exhilaration, and a strong sense of being commissioned to something much greater than myself.

When I awoke, God’s thick glory lingered in the room as I lay there silently, awed by the experience and His wonderful presence. What a simple message, yet so incredibly encouraging and profound at the same time!

I hold on to that dream, especially when I am facing a difficult situation or season that begs me to remember the reality that the Holy Spirit truly is present.

The sheer fact that God would visit a believer just to remind him of His nearness is a powerful, motivating force for the weary and broken-hearted. God personally encourages us to keep going, to continue seeking, to never let go of His character and promises, regardless of life’s circumstances.

In this season as we celebrate Christ's birth, we cannot forget how He was called by the prophet Isaiah long ago:

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son , and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 9:14, NIV)

For many, this may be a difficult season as memories of Christmas includes loved ones that are no longer present. For others, it may generate feelings of loneliness as they see families and friends come together in love, yet have nobody with whom to share the joy of the holidays. But even if you aren’t alone during the Christmas season, or have your entire family with you, my question to you is this: what are you grasping for?

It’s easy to cope with pain and loneliness by treating them with perishable things. Our human nature tells us to grab onto the closest pain killer, even if it’s temporary or contributes to our suffering. On the other hand, when our lives lack suffering or challenges, it’s easy to become stagnant in our spirituality and soon gravitate toward earthly things that carry no eternal value.

As you celebrate the birth of Christ and recognize Him as Emmanuel, I encourage you to take hold of the spiritual reality of His eternal presence, just as I reached out in my dream and grasped the feather, a symbol of the Holy Spirit.

If you are lonely and heartbroken, draw near to Him and He will draw near to you (James 4:8). Remember that He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3). If, at the moment, your life is free of suffering, yet you have become stagnant in your walk with the Lord and numb to His presence, reach out and hold onto Him again! Remember, He is patient and full of mercy (Psalm 103:8). He will never forsake you, and has promised to remain with you until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).

This truly is Emmanuel, God with us! Reach out to Him during this season, take hold of His presence and purpose for your life, and never let go.

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