Today has been set aside for study for a couple of weeks now. Several uninterrupted hours in the library of Harding Graduate School, resting in the space of God with his word, his Spirit, and the treasures he has revealed over the centuries. That’s how I planned this day. But, one interruption after another changed the shape of my day.

A friend invited me to join her at a Lenten service preceded by a lunch of Fish Pudding and Boston Cream Pie. My first response was, “Fish pudding?!?” My second was, “No, I’ve committed tomorrow to study.” But then, in the spirit of soaking in the presence of God, I decided perhaps I ought to join Linda for an adventure into Lenten Land.

The fish pudding was, of course, not pudding per se. It was more of a fishy casserole. Not bad, but not one I’m likely to repeat. The Boston Cream Pie, however, was the best ever! The conversation with a fellow-sojourner was delightful. And the Lenten service provided just the bit of calm soaking in God’s presence this day called for.

As I listened to the gentle voice of Rev. Dr. Mitzi Minor speak of the love of God that initiates the healing process, I felt my mind, spirit, and body relax. Dr. Minor told engaging stories as she invited us not only into the healing love, but to be conduits of the love that heals to this broken world.

And I realized, this is the day God planned for me. This was the space he wanted me to enter to find his treasure for today. The library will always be there, but rarely is there an opportunity to stop in the flow of the week and simply be in His presence with His people to soak.

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Several weeks ago I came across the idea of “Soaking” in the presence of the God. Soaking struck a chord with me. I’m not much of a sit still person. I don’t quiet and listen well. I’m a thinker, speaker, writer, dreamer…

But I get soaking. I understand the peace of a long soak in the hot tub. I love the feeling of soaking up the sun. Soaking in the presence of God speaks to my soul.

The Hebrews author tells us to rest in the kingdom we are receiving. John tells us to stand in the light of fellowship in Christ. We are called into the presence of the Almighty simply to be there…and to be there together as well as alone.

For the next few weeks I will focus on soaking in the presence of God, beginning with memorizing Psalm 134.

Behold, bless the LORD, all servants of the LORD,
Who serve by night in the house of the LORD!
Lift up your hands to the sanctuary
And bless the LORD.
May the LORD bless you from Zion,
He who made heaven and earth.

I invite you to join me as I take a good long soak in the presence of God. Feel free to share your reactions and/or ideas by posting comments.

About 8 years ago, on the 3rd Sunday my husband and I spent with a congregation that had invited him to come preach for them, we decided to attend the young professionals’ class and get to know some of the younger folk. That day the discussion centered around loving our neighbors. For 30 minutes or so the group spoke of the nature of love and who constitutes a neighbor.

As I looked around the room I noticed that most of the members were graduate students at the top-notch college in town. They were highly intelligent, optimistic, eager to impact their world, and, with one exception, all raised in Christian homes.

I couldn’t help but wonder what these kids were doing still talking about what love is. Hadn’t they learned that their whole lives? Wasn’t it time for them to delve deeper in their spiritual journeys. Two words came to mind over and over: So what? So what if we know who our neighbors are? So what if we can define God’s love? So what? So what does it mean for my life? So what am I supposed to do about it? So what should that look like?

And so I asked them. So what? After a moment of intrigued silence the conversation resumed.

Hoping to smooth over any feathers I may have ruffled, I went back for another visit to the class the next week. Upon entering, a bulletin was thrust into my hand and a finger eagerly pointed at the announcements for their class. I looked around at the expectant faces in the room wondering was going on. When I read the text at which the finger pointed I understood:  They had retitled their class So What?

The class spent the rest of that quarter and the next asking So What? about all they had learned about and from God over the course of their lives thus far.

May we all be as challenged by the question So What?

My little friend is here today. She comes to play with me once or twice a week and goes by “B” when she’s here. 18 months going on 15 she has perfected the art of endearing the universe to her little ways.

Recently, B adopted Patches, the sweet, innocent teddy bear cast off but not discarded by my 11 year-old son. She bathes Patches, rocks him, kisses him, smiles down upon him and even reads him books.

As she carries Patches around, all wrapped up in a kitchen towel blanket, B often gets a pitiful little look on her face and cries a mournful little cry. She seems to be experiencing and expressing a deep sadness Patches feels. Unconcerned with his stains, rips, and missing pom from the tip of his hat, B loves Patches with such tender care that she can even feel his own sorrow. And the way she caresses his sweet, threaded smile as she cares for his every need makes me certain she is also tuned into her stuffed friend’s joy.

At the risk of sounding trite, I’d like to think this innocent little picture mirrors God’s care for all His children.

Over the past several years I have had the joy of teaching the book of Hebrews in a number of formats: retreats, adult classes, and most recently the 8th grade class where I worship. I love the book of Hebrews and I love 8th graders. Putting the two together made for a most amazing time.

8th graders are ready to dig deeper spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally; they are sophisticated enough to appreciate dry humor; and they have not reached the age at which being cool is the entire reason for being.

So as I wended my way through Hebrews with these freshly blooming souls, I appreciated the rich and powerful lessons it carries for those young in faith:

Do not turn back…

Pay attention to what you have heard…

Leave behind the easy stuff and move on to maturity…

Listen to your leaders…

Imitate their faith…

I am not one to offer up a list of tips and techniques to follow to a given end. Tips and techniques may get you started on the road to change, but they rarely get you where you really want to be, which in the case of believers is not conformed but transformed. And yet, the advice Hebrews presents for staying focused on Jesus, while rather tip-ish and technique-y on the surface, when understood in the fuller context of the letter is pretty solid advice for maintaining faith in this world.

And so as I brought our class to an end, I exhorted my young students to listen to God through His letter to the Hebrews as they launch into the work of bringing together the threads of all the Bible stories they knew and weaving them in their community of faith and in communion with God into a rich and vibrant tapestry of faith.

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.

–Hebrews 12:28-29

After tracing the history of the early Israelite nation, outlining the incomparable majesty of Christ, and exhorting the audience of the book of Hebrews to hold fast to the teachings of Jesus, the author culminates all of his arguments in this one statement: Christians stand in an unshakeable kingdom.

Dallas Willard writes that when we read about the kingdom of God in places like the Psalms and Daniel then:

…we will not doubt that kingdom has existed from the moment of creation and will never end. It cannot be ‘shaken’ and is totally good. It has never been in trouble and never will be. It is not something that human beings produce or, ultimately, can hinder. We do have an invitation to be a part of it….

Receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken does not translate into trouble-free lives. It does mean that remaining in God’s kingdom guarantees we can stand firm in The Unshakeable Kingdom.