If someone told me this story, I would be very skeptical of either their integrity, or their sanity. What I share with you happened to me about 35 years ago – yet I remember the experience very vividly.
It was on a Sunday evening, at the end of a very full day. I had led the two Sunday morning worship services, preached at the evening service, and then led career group, which met in a large room adjacent to the sanctuary. My last responsibility of the evening was to turn off the lights and check the sanctuary to be sure the P. A. system and lights were turned off.
When I looked into sanctuary, it was dark, except for some light that filtered in through windows – and the pulpit light. I must have left it on. I was not happy.
Please take a minute to picture the front of the sanctuary. The pulpit was on the right, about 4’ above the floor level. In the center front of the sanctuary was a large table, behind which was a beautiful stained glass window – a collage of color. Before each communion service 12 elders, symbolically representing the 12 apostles came up to the table and sat down, six on each side. At the far end of the table there were three chairs. The center chair was always left empty, to represent the presence of Jesus at the last supper. The senior minister sat to the right of this chair, I sat on the left.
As I walked down the center aisle that night, I suddenly became aware of the presence of the Lord standing at the place of that center chair. I did not see his face, or a bright light. I just became overwhelmed with an awareness of his presence. I was stunned, very frightened. Quickly I went as far as I could out around the table, turned off the pulpit light, and got out of there.
As I stood alone in the foyer, I immediately thought of Moses: “the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:5 I left the building, shaken to the core.
When Jesus made his presence real to me, I guarantee I was not expecting it – any more than Moses expected to see a burning bush. Prior to this experience I had often told people that I would like to sit down at a table with our Lord, for I had lots of questions. I have not said this since that evening. Sitting down in the presence of The Almighty God for a chat is not an option.
Moses and I are in very different leagues. I know this. But we did have somewhat similar experiences. God healed my back, and used me to be his agent of healing for Susan Sea, the young lady who had spent the previous 7 years in a wheel chair. God used the disciples, and others, as his agents of healing. We too are in very different leagues. I know this. Thus my hesitation in sharing these personal experiences.
Little did I know how much I would need these, and other experiences of the reality of the living God, in the months and years ahead. Living In Partnership With God is a sobering experience.