Thinking back over the last few days. Two occasions when I was aware in a very tangible way of God’s presence. the first time was just before I was about to play “O come all ye faithful” on the organ at the Christmas Eve service at Brucefield Church in Whitburn. Sadly, their very brilliant organist passed away not long ago, and I thought it might be nice if they had live organ instead of recorded music on Christmas Eve. Though I am no organist at all, I thought I should help. Anyway, I was nervous. Hence the repeated requests for your prayers! At the said moment, when there was only one carol left to play, I felt the presence of God resting upon my in a very physical and tangible way for quite a few minutes. It felt like God was saying, “You are almost there. Come on you can do this. You are doing well. Thank you!”
The second time I was aware of the same presence, to a degree that surpassed, humbled and delighted me, was when I was about to take the Christmas Day Service in Shotts Prison. As it happened there were no other volunteers there that day so it meant not only preaching and playing the piano, but organising the distribution of doughnuts and Selection boxes etc. (By the way I learned a new maths in prison! Each inmate was meant to take 2 Krispy Kreme doughnuts each. There were, I think, 20 prisoners at the service. There were 48 doughnuts sent in by the Chaplain, Dorothy Russel. Well, apparently, 20 X2 = 48, as there were none left!!) Just waiting for the service to begin, again as the night before in Whitburn, I was aware of the presence of God as I enjoyed a cup of coffee and some wonderful home baking brought in by the Catholic Chaplaincy. Once more it was as though God was saying, “Come on! Don’t be afraid! I am with you. All will be well. You can do this! Well done! Thanks for helping out.”
In both these settings I was simply helping out, nothing more grand than that. I was not taking over a leadership role, but simply there helping out, because help was needed.
So at the end of the year and looking forward to next year, here is my suggestion for encountering the sense of God’s delight. Look for opportunities to help out. I am not talking about His love depending on us doing anything or any sort of conditional love, but just trying to pass on what I have learned over the last few days, sharing my joyful discovery. For some reason, God really seems to like it when we “help out” even if what we are doing is not really something we feel particularly skilled in, and rewards us when we step up – however nervously – with His presence, His “Thank you” and His “Well done.” He is so very kind, so very encouraging. You would almost think He must share our frame, He seems to understand us, what we need to hear and know so well, so well. But wait a minute…