This is the Day

exploring the soul's quest for joy

Tag: god with us

Holy Ground



I saw a burning bush today.

Candy apple red,

It took my breath away.


Is there a finer sight than the splendor of an autumn landscape in the American northeast? Each stroke of the master Artist’s brush layering subtle hues of vibrant red, burnt sienna, deep ochre, rich amber, and goldenrod. Day by day the colors deepen until their host shakes free of them and rests all the winter long in a coat of sterile brown and gray.


But today there is no gray. Limbs recede from view as an explosion of red flames dance before my eyes. The early afternoon light seems to illumine them from within. This is my burning bush. My Pennsylvania burning bush. There is no holy fire burning on this little hillside, just the stroke of artistry from the brush of my holy God. And yet, I hear You whisper,


The place on which you are standing is holy ground.


Holy ground? This little hillside? How can that be? I am no Moses; this bush is not really aflame. What are you saying to me?


And then You help me see.


You remind me that Your very Spirit has taken up residence within me.


The Father will give you another Helper, the Spirit of Truth, that He may be with you forever. You know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.


Everyone who is called by Your name, who chooses to allow You Your rightful place on the throne of his heart, is a little burning bush. When I invite the living God to infuse my thoughts with His thoughts, when my heart burns within me at the nearness of the living God, when my words take on the color and hue of The Word, then I too am a little burning bush, aflame with the love and presence of my living God. As His burning bush, I carry His holiness within me and everywhere my feet touch can transform this earthen sod into holy ground.




I saw a burning bush today.

Deep burnt orange,

It took my breath away.


I see burning bushes all around. To those who have stopped, and turned, and fixed their gaze on the living God, He will reveal Himself. To those who turn aside from being their own god and choose to follow the living God, He will disclose marvelous things. To those who see the living God, He will call them by name. To those who willingly respond, “Here I am,” He will fill with His Spirit.


Will I respond with a willingness to be His hands and feet on earth? Will I say “yes” to being a tabernacle in which the Spirit may dwell? Will my “Here I am” resound this day and in the days to come, signaling my desire for Your will over mine? Will I stop and turn and fix my gaze upon the living God or will I live like those described in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s keen observation:


Earth’s crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God,

But only he who sees takes off his shoes;

The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.


Will I pluck blackberries today or will I breathe in the fire of the living God and exhale his love to the world around me?




I saw a burning bush today.

Goldenrod yellow,

It took my breath away.


Do I have eyes to see you? Do I have ears to hear you? Will I take you with me today, enthroned on my heart, so that where I go, You go?


The ground on which my feet tread is holy ground. May I never lose the wonder of gazing on my Lord. May I never lose the wonder that You chose me to be the tabernacle of Your Holy Spirit. May I never take for granted that where I go is holy ground when I invite Your presence in my every movement and breath. May I never cease to give You thanks and praise for Your boundless love for me.


I saw a burning bush today.

Father, Son, and Spirit forever with me,

It took my breath away.



Inspired by Pennsylvania autumn and Exodus 3: 1-6 and John 14.



O Come, O Come Emmanuel



“Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee o Israel!”


O Come O Come Emmanuel has always been one of my favorite Christmas carols, not just for its haunting, deeply melodic minor tones, but also because of its very poignant words that speak of the longing of a nation to be visited by their God. One of my favorite names for God is Emmanuel, which means “God with us”. There is not a more appropriate time of year to reflect upon the meaning of that profound word than at Christmastime, when God took on flesh and became man in order that He could be with us—in every sense of the word.


God desires not just for us to know Him, or love Him, or depend on Him, He desires to be with us. God’s initiative in moving toward us did not begin with the first Christmas, it began with His very first stroke of creation in making man and placing him in the Garden. In the Garden, God and man enjoyed sweet, perfect fellowship, walking and talking with one another in the cool of the evening. God was with us, and the proximity was extremely close.


Even after man’s sin and his being cast out of the place of being with God, God’s desire was always to be with His people. In the wilderness, despite their disobedience, God moved toward His people by instructing them to build the Tabernacle—the tented movable structure where God would meet with the priests on behalf of the people. In Hebrew, the word “tabernacle” literally means “dwelling place”. This is where God took up residence and dwelt among His people.


With the advent of Jesus, God became flesh and the second person of the Trinity dwelt, or “tabernacled”, among us. Jesus took on our nature, felt our pain, experienced our humanity. He could not have been more with us than when He lived in Israel in the first century. But Emmanuel-Jesus-did not stay with us. After the resurrection and the ascension, He returned to be with the Father, promising that He would send the third being of the Trinity—the Holy Spirit of God—to be with us.


Jesus tells us that it is better for us that He return to the Father, for in that way the Holy Spirit will come to be with us. Once again God is intentional as He moves toward us to be with us. We who believe are now the temple of the living God, indwelt at all times by His Holy Spirit.


Every bit of Emmanuel, all of Him—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—wants to be with you—every part of you. Not just the Sunday part. Not just the “I’m in a crisis” part. Everyday and all day long, He wants to be with you.


In this busy Advent season, how can we experience the incredible closeness of the presence of God with us? The same way that we always have. In the stillness of the Garden. In the quietness of the holy night in Bethlehem. We have to quiet ourselves down and put ourselves in a place where we can hear from God and allow His Spirit to speak to us. It is essential that we take time to pray alone and in small groups if we want to experience God being with us through His Spirit. Prayer and reflection are difficult things to find time for in the busyness of the Christmas season. But they are the essential things if we want to experience God with us. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel has come to us!

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