Jerusalem landscape at sunrise

I Was In the Presence of God/Spiritual Meditations

Have you ever prayed and felt like nobody was listening?  We’ve all experienced this.  However, sometimes when we silently meditate and pray from the deepest place of our souls, we feel the presence of God.  In the following excerpt from his book The Long Road to Eternity, (available on Amazon) Pastor Timothy W. Ehrlich tells us of a time when he not only felt God’s presence but actually saw God’s presence.


My Religious Kicks

Occasionally, I get on a new religious kick. It could be a new spiritual exercise that I discover and use every day for a month, or a certain thing that I lift up in prayer every day for a time. I mentioned in the experience I shared about healing Annalee that I was on a kick of trying to be filled with the Holy Spirit daily. Other kicks I have been on include using transcendental meditation every morning, serving myself communion every morning and so on. Usually, my spiritual kicks last about one or two months before I get distracted and forget about them or find something new; sometimes they become lifelong daily habits, as was the case for reading the Bible a little bit every day.

In 2007 I was visiting a woman in the hospital and she told me, “I wake up every morning and say, ‘Good morning God, thank you for another day!”  Realizing I didn’t greet God first thing in the morning, I decided to do this too. So, for about two months, every morning, upon waking up and before my feet hit the floor, I would say “Good morning God!”   

Shouting Down a Rat Hole

For some reason I expected to receive some sort of response back from God; I was waiting for it, but day after day there was nothing, no response at all, not even a feeling like I had been heard. Most of the time when I pray, I can feel something, a “quickening in my spirit” John Wesley would call it. Paul said the Holy Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and I’ve experienced that dozens of times, but this was a dry spiritual time for me. Not only was there no response from God in the morning, but I was also feeling nothing from God at any time.

As usual, one morning in the middle of January, I woke up and greeted God: “Good morning God!” And I got no response for what I estimated was about the 60th day in a row, and suddenly I became either angry or frustrated. I thought, “I always say hello to God, and he never replies. I feel like He either isn’t there or doesn’t care. I am not feeling anything when I pray. Maybe my prayers are just me shouting down a rat hole and hoping there is someone down there who can hear me, but maybe there isn’t.”

I knew that was a terrible thought and I put it out of my head as quickly as I could; then I got up and went about my day.

God Showed Me His Presence

The next morning, I woke up, and just as in the previous two months, I said “Good morning God.” I was not expecting a reply but to my shock and amazement, when I opened my eyes, God was there as a translucent shimmering silvery substance occupying one side of the room.

When the Holy Spirit descended on me in my upper room in Fire Island the physical sensation was very mild, barely perceptible.

(You can read the Fire Island experience @ Her Rejection Forced My Forgiveness.)

This was different. I felt a very strong physical sense of God’s presence. It was overpowering, I was inside His presence; and His presence permeating me entirely, seemingly altering my physiology; going between and separating the very atoms of my body. 

It felt like God’s presence in me had temporarily transformed my body from purely material to a material/spiritual fusion. Like I was a vapor in the form of a body, or even less, a spirit in the form of a body. At the same time, I could feel the power of God’s intellect creating  the power of His presence; extending outward to embrace every atom of my being.  I knew that my every thought and emotion were as clearly known to God as if they were His. I realized then that His presence with me was a response to my thought the previous day: it was His way of correcting me; of saying to me “Your prayers have been heard the whole time!” I was amazed and terrified and very happy all at the same time.

I thanked God and. I closed my eyes and, for what seemed like a whole minute, I basked in the glow of His presence. When I opened my eyes God’s presence was gone, but the effect of His power on my physiology remained; my atoms were still loose. For the brief period that I was in His presence my physicality had been subsumed by the Spirit and I felt like a ghost, like you could have put your hand right through me, and now that He was gone, I could still feel what that had felt like. The feeling or perhaps it was just the very strong memory of the feeling, of having my molecules loosened by the power of being in the presence of God stuck with me for the rest of the day. And as I said, it was scary.

To say that I am an “unlikely candidate,” and “far from worthy of this honor” is putting it mildly  It is amazing that God uses me and has chosen to give me these exceptional blessings of experiences with Him.  This was one of the most powerful moments of my life, and naturally I have revisited it again and again in my mind; in fact, in my daily prayers I thank God for allowing me to experience the awesomeness of His presence.

God Knows You

I learned a lesson that day that I will never forget; God truly and always hears every thought and knows the heart and mind of every person. Everything we say to God is prayer is heard by God even when we don’t feel a thing back. He is always and truly as close as the inside of our minds. I will never doubt that again.

God in Christ Jesus

I now have a much better understanding of how the power of God in Christ must have transformed the physics of His body making Him for a time Spirit in the form of a man enabling Jesus to walk on water or how he could appear suddenly in a closed room after his resurrection and how he could use that power to alter molecular structures to enable him to feed 5000 with five loaves of bread and a couple of fish.

God the Creator

As a Christian I believe that God is the creator and source of all the energy in the universe. Scientists tell us that, at its deepest level, all matter is just different forms and arrangements of energy in motion and vibration. So, it makes perfect sense to me that God, the creator of all, has the power to transform the energy in matter into its purest form – spirit – or into some amalgam of physical and spiritual.

A Reminiscence

About two years after God came to me in my room, I was laying on the same bed thinking about that amazing experience and the thought came to me, “was there any significance to where God was in the room?” I was going through the event in my mind, second by second, searching for clues. I realized when I woke up on that special morning I was on my left side, and I felt his presence behind me and above me, not at the ceiling but more than halfway up the wall as I turned to face Him.

While remembering this and staring at the wall, lost in thought, I found myself looking at a framed lithograph of 19th century Jerusalem by David Roberts entitled The Old City. In the center of that drawing is the Dome of the Rock, the famous Muslim mosque built over the site which was the holy of holies in the original temple. The holy of holies is the place where the Ark of the Covenant was stored and coincidentally the place where Solomon suggested that God would always hear our prayers.(1 Kings 8:44-45).

Further Reading

You can read about many more spiritual experiences had by Pastor Tim and others in the Spiritual Experience category of this Spiritual Meditations blog.

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man praying

Why Doesn’t God Perform More Miracles?

The recent pandemic has surfaced a theological question that many of us have at least considered.  Will God protect us if we don’t protect ourselves? Are we testing God or trusting God when we ignore recommended precautions and treatments against CoVid19 or other illnesses?  The following is written by my friend Rev. Dr. Timothy W. Ehrlich in his recent book The Long Road to Eternity. In it he lays out the reasoning and experience behind his answer to these questions.


Behold! The Old George Is Gone.

In the summer of 1989, I was invited to provide a communion service at a large nursing home in the nearby town of Norwich. I was to meet with the administrator of the facility at 11:30, get a tour of the facility, and then have time for lunch and come back and perform the service at 1:30. This was to be another amazing mystical day; I woke up that morning feeling spiritually buoyant. Feeling very close to God, I wrote in my morning diary, “I’m ready for another miracle.”

After arriving at the facility and speaking with the administrator, his assistant followed me out of the office to talk about a problem. I counseled her and her husband for an hour and they both thanked me multiple times for relieving their minds. I was happy to be used by God so effectively and marveled at the set of circumstances that brought the three of us together at that time on that day.

The nursing home was located on top of a hill overlooking the city of Norwich. Since I had half an hour before the start of the service and it was a sunny afternoon, I decided to sit outside in front of the nursing home on the side of the hill facing the sun and the city of Norwich to pray and to think about the message I was about to deliver. As I began to pray, I thought about how low my spirituality had been over the previous month and it caused me to begin to cry. I had been so busy moving and doing the Lord’s work over the last month that I neglected the number one job of a pastor – stay close to the Almighty. My tears were because of my failure to pray regularly, and because of my gratitude for the amazing contrast between that low point of the previous month and how buoyant I now felt. I could feel God with me so powerfully at that moment.

As I prayed, I was also praying for my friend George who was the Lay Leader of one of the churches I pastored; he was battling kidney cancer. He also was a saintly person, a salt-of-the-earth, wonderful guy, full of the fruits of the Spirit. Some months earlier he had a small amount of blood in his urine, but instead of getting it checked out, or even telling anyone about it, he decided that faith required him to let God take care of it. Then one day in the end of May there was suddenly a tremendous amount of blood in his urine. He told me what was going on with him as I was packing to move to a new church. I was upset that he waited to seek medical attention, but I was relieved that at least now he was seeing a doctor.

Unfortunately, the blood in his urine was there because George had an aggressive form of kidney cancer in both kidneys and it was spreading rapidly. George was in the hospital and, as I sat overlooked Norwich, I prayed for George and his wife Olive.  “My prayer for George, Lord, is that he recovers if it is your will.” Suddenly, the sun seemed to be extra bright and time froze just for a moment. I had my head bowed in prayer and, looking up, saw the same beautiful transparent golden substance I had seen in my attic room in Fire Island. It rapidly approaching me until it was right in front of me. This time it did not settle on me or pass over and through me. It was like a curtain – about six feet high and six feet wide and a foot thick, transparent yet like a golden shimmering fog. I heard God’s voice speak from the square, “Behold, the old George is gone; the new George is!” and then the golden substance faded away. I looked at my watch; it was 1:10 p.m. I prayed some more and went in and led the communion service for the retirees.

Coincidently my sermon for that service was entitled, “Holy Fire.” When I arrived to preach and serve communion, the altar candles were not lit. No one there was a smoker so I told the group we could not light the candles. A woman in the service said, “You will have to be our fire today.” Little did she know I was filled with holy fire.

That afternoon at about 3:00 I called Olive.  She said, “George died today.” I asked her what time he passed, she said it was about 1:10 in the afternoon. I told Olive what I had seen and heard that afternoon, but she was only minimally comforted as she was already convinced George was going to heaven.

George had been the main income earner in the household and Olive was confronting both the loss of her husband and the economic turmoil she was going to have to deal with. The rapidity of the progression of the cancer caught everyone by surprise – George went from healthy and seeming fine to gone in a little over two months. Heaven’s joy was Olive’s great loss.

The Theological Lessons

God Happily Awaits Our Arrival in Heaven

The theological lesson in this experience is to realize how happy God is about us having and receiving eternal life. God’s choice of words and the way it was proclaimed, “Behold!” showed how happy He is to receive us into His eternal home.

God Will Not do for Us What We Can do for Ourselves.

George’s flawed decision to not seek medical help until it was too late, based on the belief that God would take care of it, is also a lesson. It is a reminder of one of God’s operating principles – God does not do for us those things which we can do for ourselves. So, if we have blood in our urine, or some other ailment we need to get medical attention. God gives us brains and he wants us to use them, both to obtain healing or to get anything else we need.

It is not a part of God’s plan to be a cosmic lifeguard, jumping into action to miraculously save every believer from every situation, especially when He has already made a way for us to be saved through science, medicine, or technology. God will not save us if we can save ourselves from whatever situation we are in and God will not save us if we have chosen to reject an already established path to safety from whatever calamity is facing us.

When We Can’t Do It, How Much Does God Do?

That goes together with another one of God’s operating principles – God always does the minimum possible to bring about His desired results. He will not send an angel to save you if He can motivate a person to save you. He will not motivate a person to save you if He can reach you through other means like your prayers, Bible readings or the words of another person.  These may cause you to alter your path, so you don’t need saving in the first place.

Why Doesn’t God Perform More Miracles?

It is clear that God loves us, cares deeply about each of us and especially appreciates those who truly love Him. Considering the miracles God is performing, why does He not just do a few more and do all the things that I ask Him to? Why does God not save all His people all the time? It doesn’t seem very loving of God at first glance. The answer is somewhat paradoxical: God limits the use of His power precisely because God loves us and wants to allow us maximum freedom to choose to love Him in return. (See Longing to Reciprocating God’s Astonishing Love)  Stick with me here for a moment; it is a complex answer, but I will make it as clear as I can.

  • God wants us to have faith, to trust and believe in God.
  • If we knew that God would always save us or always give us what we want, then our need for faith would be removed.
  • Doubt and faith live in the same place inside us. How do we know? You can’t have faith if you are filled with doubt and you can’t doubt if you are filled with faith.
  • God wants us to love Him, and love is not real love if it is not given in freedom. True love cannot be compelled.
  • If we could not doubt or question the existence of God, if we knew for absolute certain the reality of God, including fully recognizing His omnipotence and omniscience, then it would take away our freedom to choose to love God: we would be terrified not to obey God. And love is not real love if it is not given freely.
  • Faith itself is a choice. We choose to either give in to doubt or to push doubt aside and trust “where we cannot see.” Thus, faith allows us the freedom to choose to love God or not to love God. So, when we love God in faith our love is not coming from a place of fear or compulsion but out of appreciation, respect, and admiration.
  • God creates the freedom we need to be able to love God freely by creating a space or distance between us. This space inside us is where both doubt and faith live. The separation or distance between God and us reflects the reality that God is Spirit and we are matter. There is a natural divide between these two.
  • Sometimes the freedom to choose God means God needs to keep His hands off things and allow stuff to happen to us that we perceive as negative. If He didn’t keep His hands off, if he saved us every time,  we would know for sure with no doubt that He exists in all His godliness, and again that would remove our ability to love God freely. The things that we perceive as negative that God allows to happen  includes allowing us to receive and experience the consequences of our bad decisions, the consequences of the bad decisions of others, the impact of natural disasters, and the weakness or fragility of our humanity.
  • But God allows these bad things because they are of a small significance compared to the blessing of knowing, experiencing, and loving God in this life, and to the promise of eternity with God in heaven in our life to come.

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Relevant Scripture

Do not put the Lord your God to the test as you did at Massah. (Deut 6:16)

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Matt 4:7)

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. (Matt 9:12)

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Heb 11:1)

Sunset over mountains and trees

A Glimpse Through the Thin Curtain between Life and Afterlife | Spiritual Meditations

When a Loved One Dies

There have to be many many people who have experienced something unusual at the time a loved one dies.  But how often do we hear about it?   Almost never.  Because “people will think we’re imagining things”.  But I’m going to tell you about a couple of times when the curtain between my world and the afterlife became pretty thin and then a friend is going to tell you about an astounding experiences just before her mother died.

Listening to the Still Small Voice

My grandmother was a saint on earth, so I’m sure she is doing great things in Heaven.  On the day she died I had visited her at the nursing home for the last time.  We told each other how we loved each other and said our good-byes.  She died a few hours later.  Because we were traveling, that night my husband and I were in a hotel room where I was talking to God about “granny’s” passage when I felt a presence so strong I turned to see who was there.  But there was no one visible.  If you’ve ever felt like there was somebody behind you without seeing them,..it was like that.  I knew this was granny whispering through the life/afterlife curtain something like “I’m still around, I’m doing good, I love you and I just wanted to let you know”.  She was always so considerate.

My dear mother’s health had been declining for over a year.  During that time she had had at least 3 of her 4 noticeable mini strokes, as well as surgery for colon cancer.  She tried to remain cheerful and I tried to do whatever was needed to make her happy, but it was hard to keep up with her changing needs and whims.  A few days before she left this earth, she told me ‘I heard my mother’s voice’.  Of course, I wanted to know what words her mother spoke, but she couldn’t tell me.   A day and a half after her earthly death, I received a beautiful bouquet from colleagues.   You know how when you are grieving and somebody does something nice, you just breakdown?  Well that’s what happened.  I was deeply grieving when I felt a ripple of happiness.  I thought it was rather odd, but didn’t realize until the next day that it was mom telling me, through the curtain, that she was now happy.  Such a comfort.

A Spiritual Experience That Can’t Be Missed

These are examples of the little messages that God sends us, that we could easily miss if we aren’t  listening, but sometimes we have spiritual experiences that can’t be missed.  This was true for my friend Lynda.  At the end of her life, Lynda’s mother was bed-ridden in Lynda’s living room.  Days before her passing, the Hospice pastor visited Lynda’s mother.  As he was standing next to her bed, with wonderment, he said to her ‘I can feel God in this room….Do you feel it?’  Her response was ‘Yes, He came in with you’.  Lynda looked out the open door and saw what looked like the sun so bright that it filled the universe.  The pastor, who had been with many people during their last days on earth, was speechless with awe and so was my friend.

I’m going to let Lynda tell you the rest of her spiritual experience:

The experience that I would like to share is one that will always stay close to my heart.  We have those right?  Those experiences that you absolutely know as truth because you were there, perhaps not as a participant but as an observer.

I never met any of my mother’s family members.  There were not many of them and they passed away before I was born.  They lived in my mind through stories my mom told me as I grew up.  I know them as strong, kind, spiritual and fiercely protective.

My mom was nearing the end of her life.  She was under the care of my brother, myself, my sister-in-law and hospice caregivers.  Her bed was in the living room and I slept on the couch in the same room next to her, in case she needed me during the night.  Most nights were quiet and we slept well.

However, during her last night, I was awakened, hearing much rustling and hushed conversation.  All around my mother’s bed were shadowy, graceful figures fussing and smoothing the bedding, making my mother comfortable, murmuring to each other, and working together as though they knew exactly what their purpose was to be there.  I simply watched and took in the awesome event taking place with my mom.  Somehow I knew their purpose and felt strangely calm.  They were those loving spiritual family members coming to check on my mom and get her ready for her journey home.

The next morning my sweet mother joined her mother, father, grandmother and aunt.  They had prepared her well, welcoming her to her heavenly home.

Remember John 14:2:  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?

What  a wonderful experience…to witness part of the journey we will all eventually take…a  rather large opening in the curtain between life and afterlife.

The Torn Temple Curtain – at the Time of Another Transition

At the time of Christ’s death the temple curtain was torn.  Matthew 27:51

It is not a slight rent through which we may see a little; but it is rent from the top to the bottom. There is an entrance made for the greatest sinners. If there had only been a small hole cut through it, the lesser offenders might have crept through; but what an act of abounding mercy is this, that the veil is rent in the midst, and rent from top to bottom, so that the chief of sinners may find ample passage!” (Spurgeon)  

The tearing of the temple veil signified at least two things. First, now man has free access to the throne of grace by the cross. Second, no one should ever think again that God dwells in temples made with hands.  (David Guzik)

Please contact me if you have a spiritual experience that you would like to share.  I’d love to hear it.

 

Clouds that represent God's presence with my at the airport

God’s Faithfulness Changed My Life|Spiritual Meditations

Of course you have heard the phrase ‘Let go and let God’.  But have you ever put yourself totally at God’s disposal, even for just a day, and then seen Him use it?  We have so many responsibilities that are hard to set aside.  And even if we are spiritually meditating we may not recognize God’s activity.  I’m going to tell you about a day that God used to make a big change in my life.   We need to share these experiences instead of being afraid that people will think we’re crazy.  It’s my turn.

In the 90s the US economy was going strong.  My husband and I were in the gift and home decor industry.  In 2000, even before the World Trade Center was bombed on 9/11/01, the US economy was slipping and the gift industry was one of the first to feel it. Our income was plummeting, but our expenses weren’t.

I was flying from Tampa Florida to Grand Rapids Michigan, with a stop over in Cincinnati, to attend a class reunion.  I saw this as a great opportunity to put myself totally in God’s hands…no particular responsibilities…nothing to do but travel.  And look at all the people I could possibly connect with during the trip.

After checking in, I headed for one of the terminals.  As I entered the huge open area, I felt God’s presence filling it…an invisible cloud is the only way I can think to describe it. There weren’t many people at my assigned gate so I approached the attendant.  He told me I was at the right gate but my flights had changed.  Instead of changing planes in Cincinnati I was going to change planes in both Cleveland and Cincinnati.  OK.  I had just given my day to God, so no problem…whatever He wants.  No complaints.

God had something in mind for me to do, so I talked to the other passengers instead of reading.  Where are you going?   What kind of work do you do?  Etc.  THEN on the Cleveland to Cincinnati leg, the one I wasn’t suppose to even be on, I was sitting next to a casually dressed lady who seemed to be engrossed in her book . Didn’t want to bother her, but God was urging me (you know that feeling).  So when we were interrupted by the stewardess, I had an opportunity to start a conversation. I won’t go into all the details of our conversation, but during it I mentioned that my husband was a  natural-born salesman.  When she found out where we lived she gave me her card and told me to have him call her. A couple of weeks later we were both employed by her company and making enough to meet our financial obligations.

It still brings tears to me eyes when I think how faithful God is to us if we just give Him the opportunity.  I was expecting to maybe help someone have a slightly better day, but God was taking care of MY life.

I want to hear your spiritual experiences.