"Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over all the glory will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain."
Isaiah 4:5, 6
Some days it feels difficult at best, and sometimes unattainable, to remain close to His presence. Not the "He is always with us" type presence we can always be sure of but that sense of nearness that is palpable. The sense of nearness that David called "his good". The sense of nearness which gives us the ability to rest, to smile to ourselves confidently, to move about peacefully in the midst of even surrounding chaos. That nearness also gives us a sense of what He's up to around us - and what His invitation to us might be in that.
Perhaps like me, you have yearned for your own personal "pillar of cloud by day or a pillar of fire by night" to make His presence clear as He did for the Israelites. Of course, there's one big difference between us and them - we have seen the Messiah and have been sent the Holy Spirit. Jesus said this about the Comforter He was to send us:
"But when he, the spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears...He will glorify Me because it is from Me that he will receive what he will make known to you."
John 16:13, 14
The Spirit is what we need to guide us into truth - truth for clarifying decisions, truth to know which way to turn next, truth to know how to engage in difficult relationships, truth to understand needs around us, even the truth about ourselves. The Spirit is honest and clear and wholly uncompromising in His role in these verses: to pass on to us only that which comes from Jesus and to glorify Him.
Since I am convinced of this, I was a little surprised when I read the Isaiah passage above recently. I thought those expressions of His presence were way back in Exodus 13. And they are. But additionally, in proclaiming a time of restoration for Jerusalem, Isaiah includes this amazing promise of these expressions around the place of worship, Mt. Zion.
If you think Mt. Zion was for worshippers "way back then", think again! We all have a place for worship "in spirit and in truth" - our very hearts!
"How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, In whose heart are the highways to Zion!"
We can be building in our hearts literal highways that take us to our place of worship. Highways that facilitate the journey of turning to Him in love and adoration. Highways that are well marked and well lit so we don't lose our way - or have excuses. Highways that have been nurtured and maintained and used frequently. Highways that move us closer, that lead us to that nearness. Highways that are open 24/7.
If we build these highways through time with Him, in our own personal Zion we will experience and see His glory. This shekinah glory IS His presence. And over this glorious presence, we will be sheltered by a canopy - one which is said here to be a shelter, a shade, a refuge and hiding place from any of the difficult things in life.
I am camping out there in my heart - under the glory and under the canopy!
Photo by: flyingsails