With an embarrassed and reluctant confession I realize I have not engaged in an intimate exchange with you in a long time.
This long time cannot be measured by the calendar or the clock.
I talked to you last night. Breathing prayers as my eyes began to close after a full day. Words melded together and became an incoherent mumbling inside my head, and then I was gone. But you were not. You remained. Hovering—just as you did long ago over the face of the deep.
I think you breathed on me in the night—because I awoke this morning longing for your presence. Hungry for a glimpse of your face. Eager to enter your presence.
I woke longing for your word to penetrate and bring order to my chaos. I woke desiring our conversations go beyond simple maintenance and rote liturgy. I woke with my lungs full and needing to exhale. I came awake yearning to move past the expected and required into a place of mystery and anticipation.
Your breath was my invitation to enter your presence.
There is a mindful, intentional choice to inhale deeply. Our shallow breathing is involuntary. We simply must do this to exist. Deep breathing is by choice. It is intentional and takes time and effort.
Engaging someone in a conversation and entering a room are intentional choices.
Choices I often fail to make.
For whatever reasons there are days I simply walk by your throne room. There are days I glance in, hesitation hindering my forward movement, and then I walk on. There are days when I camp out at the opening of the door.
How Hannah (I Samuel) would have longed to have the freedom I do. She sunk down at the opening in the temple (the last opening that as a woman she could walk through) and prayed for a son. At that door she prayed and pushed her prayers all the way through to the Holy Place—through to the Holy of Holies. Hannah prayed until old Eli thought she was drunk. She was so deep in her conversation with you; she was totally unaware of anything going on around her. She pushed through the barriers that barred her from your presence. She entered your throne room, and she had an intimate conversation with you—unbound by the fetters of time or place.
And here I am. I have been given access all the way through to the Holy of Holies because of Jesus. Because of Jesus, I don’t have to sit and wait at the door.
You anticipate my arrival. Your scepter held—waiting to extend it to me. And yet, I walk by the entrance too many times a day.
In the back of my mind and on the edges of my soul and the periphery of my spirit, I hear you. I am aware of you. Utterly aware. You hover, and I feel the the rippling of your hum.
How long? How long, O God, has it been since I have seen you in your sanctuary? How long has it been since I have seen your train in the temple and trembled in awe because I was in your presence? How long since I have pushed through disregarding the fetters and boundaries?
How long since someone thought I was drunk?
You are beckoning me to enter. I see the tip of your scepter, and then I look beyond and I see the kindness and grace in your eyes.
There is no condemnation for all the ignored invitations. There is no censor for the many times I have walked by and not entered. There is no criticism for the feeble and shallow excuses I make.
No, there is only now and this invitation. Your breath is an extension of hospitality for me to come. There are no guards barring my entry. I will not be asked probing and interrogating questions before the way is opened to me.
You are waiting.