In Thy Presence…

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I was talking with a former undergraduate classmate named Philip* about worship and what it means to enter into God’s presence.  Philip confessed that he’d once had an addiction to pornography; sometimes binge watching it for hours at a time. 

I was surprised by Philip’s admission. I remember Philip being known as such an exuberant worshipper. In our university’s weekly chapel services, Philip was always sitting in the very front, with his arms outstretched, crying out to the Lord. The same year that Philip made Homecoming Court at our university, one of our local television news stations, in a live interview, asked Philip what he wanted to do after graduation. Philip unapologetically declared to the camera, “I just want to glorify God.” Still, here Philip was, telling me of a very serious area in which he had once struggled and felt powerless. 

However, Philip shared that a point of deliverance came for him after one of his pornography binge sessions. He said that afterwards, he felt covered with such shame and guilt that he only wanted to hide from the presence of God. Instead, Philip said that he heard the voice of God saying, “Now, come worship Me”. My eyes filled with tears, my head filled with wonder, and I listened more intently to Philip’s words.

Philip said that what he realized during that encounter was that even in his sin, even in his fallen state, even in his shame, even in his brokenness, even in him succumbing to his own fleshly lusts rather than God’s will, in that moment God wanted to be closer to Philip than ever before.

I can still hear the calming revelation in Philip’s voice as he said, “Robin, can you imagine how different our history might have been if Adam and Eve would have responded differently, after they ate the fruit?  What if, instead of them trying to hide themselves from God’s presence, they would have run to Him?” We do read in that Genesis 3 passage that because of the sin and the hiding that God has to say, “Where are you?” And, it is not because God did not know, physically, but rather, God needed them to acknowledge where their sin had led them, which was out of His presence. They were still His creation, but the fellowship with God was now broken.

Our sin separates us, but it is in His presence that we find forgiveness, that we find grace, and that we find mercy.

So, wherever you find yourselves today, laden with the sin of adultery, ensnared in pornography, or possibly even with imposing thoughts/desires of harming children, please seek godly help. Turn to Jesus. Know that God is forever asking, “Where are you?”  Find your salvation, healing, deliverance, and restoration in Him.  In Psalm 16:11, we find this comfort and I love the way it is worded in the Kings James Version, “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”

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Admin

Thanks for sharing! I'm humbled and amazed by how God loves us in the midst of our sinfulness. 

Participant

Thank you for your comment, Staci!  You are so right, we do need to remember that our just God is also a loving Father.  

Community Builder

I love this story; it's such a good illustration. All of us are dependent on God's grace - and we can also reflect that grace to one another. What an amazing blessing that is!! It begins with honest confession of our brokenness. We can never move to grace when we hide and pretend nothing is wrong. Where in our congregations and communities are those safe places, where we can be open, honestly sharing our struggles with sin? It's there where we can find grace and healing. We must work to create spaces for openness and honesty - that's where it all begins.

Participant

Thank you, Bonnie.  I thought Philip's experience was very compelling, as well.  We so need that reminder of God's love for us and that all that sin, all that shame, was handled on the cross.  And, you are right, it is important for our congregations to prayerfully begin opening those "safe places" to experience His grace.