Many, many moons ago, I was both humbled and blessed by being present for a momentous occasion. You see, a small group of ministers was gathered at Silver Maple Camp, which is south of Kingman, Kansas, for the annual Kansas Ministry Retreat.
The day, as I recall, was much like most days at this retreat. We enjoyed our usual study times, praise and prayer times, fellowship with one another at meals, and, I kid you not, smash mouth volleyball.
I am not sure who directed the retreat this year. It may have been Brian Cobb. What I do recall, however, is that Brian did an excellent job leading us into the heart of God through the songs he selected for our times of devotion and praise. We were having a spiritually enriching and encouraging time.
The momentous occasion happened late one evening, probably on the second night. It was a crisp, cool October night. The moon was full, or close to it. We stood outside near the lake. Moonlight made the mostly calm water sparkle. After singing several other songs, we started singing a song which was new to me that week. The song: Don Moen’s, “I Just Want to be Where You Are.”
This song has been special to me since that night. Every time I hear it or sing it, I am transported back to that place, singing that song, slowly, lowly, repeatedly, until my heart was full-to-overflowing with an intense yearning for God, to know God, to worship God, to dwell in God’s presence each and every day.
Have you ever longed for that place? I know that many people have—many do! But, there are so many things in this world that seem to get in the way. So many things hold us back. So many ways, I am persuaded, the adversary attempts to put obstacles in our way when we yearn for God.
As most of us can recall a time when our yearning was strong, we can also hear the voice of the evil one attempting to squelch that fire.
- “You’re not good enough. You never have been. You never will be,” the devil says.
- “You would be happier here with me,” says the sly one, “with these shiny things, these sweet things, these things which immediately give pleasure, or ease your pain.”
- “You have already blown your chance to be with God by the things you have said, or the things you have done,” the accuser utters in a sinister tone.
Against this backdrop, each of us needs to remember and fully rely on the compelling call of Jesus. He is the One who knows and understands who we are, where we have been, what we have said, and what we have done. His words echo through the ages. They call out to us during dark and lonely nights of confusion and doubt. They invite us to walk away from the things of this world into His very presence, into a redemptive relationship with God. It is the Lord Jesus Christ who said:
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” —Matthew 11:28-30, NLT
So, in spite of everything we have done against God and because of everything God has done for us through Jesus Christ, we can expectantly yearn to be in His presence. We can confidently sing Don Moen’s song with heartfelt passion:
I just want to be where you are
Dwelling daily in your presence
I don’t want to worship from afar
Draw me near to where you are
I just want to be where you are
In your dwelling place forever
Take me to the place where you are
’cause I just want to be with you
I want to be where you are
Dwelling in your presence
Feasting at your table
Surrounded by your glory
In your presence
That’s where I always want to be
I just want to be
I just want to be with you
You might enjoy the song as performed by the lyricist himself. If so, follow this link: https://binged.it/2vBNXzq
May God be with each and every person who reads these lines. My prayer is that we will all feel the power of God’s love drawing us into His presence.
© Bill Williams, a fellow sojourner