Joel Robin Grier
“The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” This is how Eugene Peterson has paraphrased the familiar verse in the sixth chapter of Matthew’s gospel, verse 21. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” That is how we’re accustomed to hearing it. I believe that experiencing the presence of God is this world’s most awesome treasure. “Ushered In” speaks to our lifelong quest for the presence of God. Longings for God are felt and expressed differently depending on our life experiences and where we happen to be on our life journey. Some may find this yearning for His presence difficult to understand. It may too closely resemble what is often equated with being “so heavenly minded you’re no earthly good.” The old song says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim.” I submit that the longing for God’s presence is not having your head in the clouds, unaware and unconcerned with the things of this earth. It is true that the things of earth become less important when the sense of His presence is near, however, I have found that the things of earth grow phenomenally clear as a result of encountering the Divine presence. Cares and anxieties seem to melt in comparison, replaced by calm faith and trust in the Sovereign One. I am able to truly live life with security and strength by experiencing and exchanging His perspectives and priorities for my own, and that happens in His presence. Even a casual reading of scripture reveals a “God not far away, but very near at hand.” Fellowship, friendship and relationship with our Creator are not reserved for the afterlife. They are what make this life, here and now, make sense. Jesus Himself said that on this earth He dwelt with man, but after His ascension back to Heaven, He would live within man by His Spirit. He indwells. He communicates, maybe not so much audibly, but He speaks. He makes His heart and presence known. Though unseen, He is very near. I love His presence. I love “rising to realms unknown and beholding Him on His throne,” as the old hymn puts it. “But wait!” you say, “that Rock of Ages phrase is referring to death and the afterlife.” What if our deep longings for God here in the “nasty now and now” as well as “in the sweet by and by” are one and the same? Our family spent this past year living with and caring for my mother as she made the transition from this life to the next. One day mom wrote out the words to “O Come, Angel Band” in her own hand and posted them on her refrigerator. I was strongly drawn to those words every time I opened the fridge (which was often). After a while I began to realize that as we near the end of the earthly portion of our journey, our longings for Him become longings for Home. The seemingly two different longings are actually one. They complete each other. As a singer, a musician and a worshiper I am transported, in a sense, to another realm as I commune with Almighty God. Of these roles I mention, only one is necessary to experience His presence… the worshiper. Worship is internal. It is of the heart. Much of what we equate with worship… singing, praying, sitting silently, joyously celebrating are only outward expressions of inner realities. In His presence we learn that He is God, we are not. He is large, we are small. He is great, we are insignificant. Yet He makes us significant merely by His love for us. We celebrate who and what He is and in the process we are made less… just as it should be. Regardless of where you find yourself on your journey, I invite you to enter into His presence. The Bible says no one can come to the Father unless they go through the Door, which is Christ Jesus (John 10:9), and "No one can come to Me (Jesus) unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44). He is the usher, the door and the destination. My prayer is that as you listen to this album you will be drawn deeper and deeper into Him until that day when you are borne away on snowy wings to your immortal home. ~ Joel Robin Grier
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