One night God came to dinner with me and five of my friends. We’ve never been the same.
We were a team of six college students who found ourselves unexpectedly joined together because our backyard Bible study had blossomed into a small church. Our ragtag group of believers were like the Lost Boys in Peter Pan--not a true adult among us. We sang silly songs and engaged in Bible teaching, even though we ourselves knew nothing. We had seen our fellowship grow into 120 people, but the only thing we knew for sure is that the six of us were called by God into mutual commitment to him and one another.
Alone in a church basement, around the scent of roast lamb rising from our plates we celebrated what God had done between us. We ate a covenant meal and expressed our commitment to one another.
What happened next changed my life: God became present in a tangible way. He was in the room with us. We stopped praying and sat in silence. The room was heavy: the air lay upon my shoulders like a weight. None of us dared speak. The silence was so thick it seemed like a substance. Each of us knew that God had joined us. We felt small and insignificant even while we also felt eternity welling inside of our very bodies.
After he left, we sat together stunned, and shared our experiences. My tiny mind knew that, technically, God was everywhere all the time, but in that moment I experienced his presence for the first time. In the decades since I have encountered God again and again, now aware that there is a difference between the knowledge of his omni-presence and the experience of his presence.
I’ve listened to other people speak of their experiences as well:
“God met me in a hotel room one night;”
“God visited me in my childhood as I looked out my bedroom window;”
“The presence of God filled the room like a cloud as we worshipped.”
I know their accounts are true simply because I have eaten at the same table and sipped the same wine. I’ve read the accounts of people like Jacob the slickster, who awoke one night and gasped, “‘Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.’ He was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.’” (Genesis 28: 16-17)
This week’s Meditation is a two-fold invitation to this community of readers:
- If you’re never experienced the presence of God in a tangible way, ask him to come and open yourself to the possibility.
- If you have experienced his presence, click on the comments below and share your story. Let deep call to deep so we might all hunger again for that banqueting table.