28 Feb God’s Holy Presence

The beginning of this year was a first for me. I had the distinct privilege of taking a six-week Sabbatical which actually started on December 28th when I boarded a plane and flew to Kenya with a team of 17 others. We were on a mission to climb Mt. Kenya, 4,985 meters (or 16,355 feet) in elevation, hitting our summit point to view the sun rise on New Year’s Day, the start of a new decade. It really was quite spectacular! While in Kenya, our team also had the great honor to meet the first five graduates completing Street Hope’s program! How amazing to witness the authentic life change these women visibly showed on their faces and in their countenances. They were beaming!

Upon returning home, I attended a wonderful retreat facilitated by Ruth Haley Barton. Little did I know how badly I needed that time away but more importantly, how starved I was for God’s presence, to just BE still at His feet and linger in the opportunity to hear from Him. As a ministry leader, you imagine that this “BEING” is something we do well, do often, and live in that rhythm. Moment of transparency and as the saying goes “The Emperor has no shoes.” The unfortunate reality is that ministry leaders do not tend to their souls the way they take care of others. It’s a cumulative impact and BAM you wake up one day, feeling completely empty, dried-up, depleted, not sure you can even distinguish God’s voice anymore. The noise in your head is so loud that you can’t remember the last time you had a word from the Lord on which direction to turn next…

The reality is we ALL go through seasons when our sacred rhythms are totally out of whack. As Christ-followers and leaders our challenge is to be so self-aware (by foremost leading ourselves) to know when this is the case. As I began to journey with God very closely after my retreat, here are two guiding principles that He gave me for the new year:

  1. The BEST leadership development happens in time alone with Him. We cannot lead ourselves or others when our tank is empty! Our effectiveness as leaders is utterly dependent on our time spent in God’s presence. “Amid the welter of possible distractions, leaders need time in solitude so that we can notice those things we would otherwise miss due to the pace and complexity of our lives. We need moments in our life when we let the chaos settle a bit and invite God to show us evidence of His presence at work in big ways and subtle ways and allow Him to guide us in our understanding of what these things mean. This practice alone can propel us into a very exciting part of the journey – a journey full of surprises and pronouncement and messages from God!” (from Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton)
  2. He WILL speak to us in very personal ways. Entering into a regular rhythm of silence and solitude quiets our spirits to hear the still small voice, a whisper, a word spoken that could change our destiny. “… ‘Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.’” (I Samuel 3:9) has become my prayer every time I begin my time with Him! About a week into this journey, God gave me a scripture verse that I have been reciting daily, “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way that I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” (Psalm 143:8) As the days of the new year have unfolded, my soul has started to come alive again, trusting Him more and more and finding strength to lead out of that place where I have learned to seek Him. “One of the main lessons we learn during this stage of the spiritual journey is that God is not in any particular hurry to get us to the Promised Land. He is much more concerned about the transforming work He is doing in us to prepare us for greater responsibility of freedom living.” (from Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton)

So, I’m on this journey now and committed to “BEING”. It’s a beautiful place to start a new decade of living. How about you? Are you starving for God’s presence? When is the last time you quieted the chaos of your soul long enough to hear His still small voice? He’s waiting…

O God,
Let something essential and joyful happen to me now
Something like the blooming of hope and faith
Like a grateful heart
Like a surge of awareness
Of how precious each moment is…
(Ted Loder, Guerrillas of Grace)

Can’t wait to worship with you again this Sunday at one of our campuses. Join us for part 3 of XO! Have a beautiful weekend!

In Christ’s great love,

Fran Helpingstine
Executive Director of Operations, Finance and Marketing

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