Presence in Absence

“When I meet people who say that their most profound encounters with God are in nature. I sometimes laugh. Nature is not just a lovely sunset; it is dull fog, sleet, bitter muck. It is not just the waterfall; it is the drought. It is not just the green flourishing; it is the brown and red death, the white sickness, the black of mold and decay.

I laugh not because their sentiment is untrue. Because it is true. The desert, like all places is the dwelling of the Holy Spirit. Presence in absence. And though he may cast you there, he will fling himself alongside you, rough as sackcloth, gray as ashes, and good. He does that so that in emptiness, like so many before us (like Jesus himself), we might find fullness; in the absence, presence; in the scarcity, abundance; in the fasting, a feast spread in the presence of our enemies.” The Face of the Deep, Paul Pastor (Pages 180-181)

I’ve been savoring the words in this book for several weeks now.  I love the reminder of how the Spirit gives eyes to see beauty everywhere even (or perhaps especially) the desert places.

This chapter reminded me of some words from Rick McKinley I came across several years ago.

“Perhaps a desert place is not a desert place at all but a place where God is meeting me in his love.”

Nothing has the ability to satisfy us like His presence and once we invite this love in, then even desert places become sacred places of beauty and holiness.

Presence in absence  

Does the idea that there is something in nothing fill you with hope and joy like it does me?

His existence and His here-ness in our lives is greater than any perceived lack. It brings something into the nothing.

And that something is a filling, an overfilling and a feasting of a love that is not only intimately present in our now but is simultaneously bigger than our now too.


If His existence and His here-ness is greater than any perceived lack then we never journey the road alone, the dry cracking desert road is just as full of Him as the rain soaked valley of plenty.

If His existence and His here-ness is greater than any perceived lack then His always stretched out arms will be our guide and our comforter through each and every struggle that we may face.

If His existence and His here-ness is greater than any perceived lack then this always burning Light can pierce through the darkest or most hopeless looking night.

When we recognize him in the nothing, we begin to realize we have everything.


“I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. I know both how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13

“With a strong hand, and with an outstretched arm; for his loving kindness endures forever” Psalm 136:16

“That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it.”  John 1:5

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