[So I thought I’d go back and share a few things out of the ‘archive’ of my writings. Some of you may recognize a few of them, although slightly altered for this site. May they bless you and encourage you, and be as relevant today as they were when first penned.]
Several years ago I was treated to a marvelous Christmas production put on by the drama and girls dance teams at the church I was attending. There was one particular dance performed depicting the interaction between Mary, who was struggling to comprehend the Divine call on her to deliver God’s Son, and the Holy Spirit, Who comes to bring comfort and strength to the young girl. The dance was performed to the song Breath of Heaven, as special arrangement performed by Christian music artist Amy Grant. The song is the revealing of Mary’s thoughts, fears, and hopes concerning the Holy Child she carries. Tears were flowing freely during this powerful scene. But for me, the tears started flowing several weeks earlier.
The local Christian radio stations had been featuring this song during the holiday season. I was deeply moved by the song, so much so that I would keep the radio on just so that I could catch it being played over and over again. There was a certain line that would always move me to tears:
Breath of heaven, lighten my darkness; pour over me Your holiness, for You are holy…
I was overcome with emotion! I could not stop weeping. I was suddenly catapulted to another place– it’s hard to explain. It’s as though I were standing between heaven and earth, existing where time and eternity meet. It was God’s place, and though I could not literally see Him, in my spirit I surely did ‘see’ Him. It was truly a holy place, and I knew that God was trying to show me something.
We often think of holiness as some dreaded, legalistic weight that is set on us, or some high and lofty place of spirituality that is impossible for us to reach. But in this ‘place’ somehow I had an understanding of something the Bible refers to as “the beauty of holiness.”(1) Here in this place I felt overwhelming sorrow and grief, and yet, at the same time, an unspeakable comfort and peace. Sorrow, because of my human condition; and comfort, because of the knowledge of God’s acceptance, His love, and His holiness… the beauty of His holiness.
Never had I been in a safer place, a more peaceful place, than at this threshold to God’s presence. And I wondered, “Could this be what Mary experienced as she struggled to come to grips with her situation?” Did she grieve over her own spiritual condition? Did she wonder if “a wiser one” should have had her place? Could it be that, in that time, that moment, the Holy Spirit showered her with the holiness of God? Is it possible that, though she did not fully comprehend the call, she now understood that it wasn’t a mistake, that the love and mercy of God had indeed chosen her?
“So what’s the point?” you may be asking. Stay with me a moment. Not long ago I was really struggling with the “why” questions that come up when you’re uncertain about how life is going. It seemed as though my entire value and belief system was being challenged and shaken to the core. One particular night everything seemed to come to a head. I began to cry uncontrollably (I seem to do that a lot). I felt like such a failure, such a ‘low-life.’ How could I carry the burden I once felt called to? How could I be sure of anything? Then, somewhere between my sobs, somewhere out of the grief, I heard a familiar song rising up in my spirit:
Breath of heaven, hold me together, be forever near me, Breath of heaven…
Breath of heaven, lighten my darkness; pour over me Your holiness, for You are holy… Breath of heaven.
The Holy Spirit was calling me from that threshold between time and eternity. He spoke love and acceptance over me. Even though I didn’t think much of myself at the time, God did! He is not threatened by my humanness, my failures or my shortcomings. He hasn’t changed His mind about His call on my life, and, even more importantly, He hasn’t changed His mind about His love for me. He will “hold me together” and “pour over me” His holiness.
As believers in Christ we sense a divine call, a destiny to fulfill, in the scope of God’s great plan. We may not have it all figured out, but we know that it’s true; we can sense it, feel it in our spirits. Yet we will find ourselves being challenged concerning that call. The call itself will put us to the test, often bringing with it pain and anguish, revealing fears and doubts. But God is not far from us. His Holy Spirit within us will lead and guide us, and even shelter us from all that would sabotage His work in us. It is a work of beauty, a work of holiness. We just need to be in a place where we can hear and respond to Him.
So, what are you struggling with? Do you wonder about God’s will for you? Are you concerned that you don’t measure up? Is it hard for you to conceive that God could truly love you, let alone use you? Are your very foundations being shaken, and you don’t think you’re going to be able to stand much longer? Are the tears flowing because the pain is deep? Then stop: take a moment and call out to the Holy One. In worship ask Him to wash over you. There is a place between time and eternity where you can meet Him. You may not see an angel, but you can ‘see’ God. And in His place you can find peace and comfort, even in the midst of difficult circumstances. Allow the Holy Spirit to touch you with the breath of heaven.
copyright 2013, Lemuel C. Dees
1. 1 Chronicles 16:29; 2 Chronicles 20:21; Psalms 29:2; 96:9