The Breath of the Almighty - How God used Jars of Clay to change my faith forever.
“Can’t see the sun for the daylight. I can’t feel Your breath for the wind.” – Jars of Clay, The Edge of Water, (The Eleventh Hour)
Have you ever felt like this? Like you are looking so hard for God, that you miss Him completely? You miss His presence in your life? You miss His touch upon your face or His warmth within your heart?
'The Edge of Water' by Jars of Clay (live)
When the world closes in and we are seeking answers, direction, miracles or comfort from God, sometimes we can miss Him altogether… and it is almost as if we were blind. How often do we expect a certain solution from God? How often do we decide the path before us, without including Him in the process? How often do we become so consumed with our lives that we do not stop to reflect upon the simple fact, that without God, we are nothing?
For me personally, Jars of Clay hold a special significance to my faith journey. After completing High School, I left my family home and moved to a coastal town, for a change of lifestyle and to study. It was here that a friend gave me my very first Jars of Clay CD, ‘Much Afraid’ (originally released in 1997), which coincided with a spiritual retreat I attended.
Even though I had become a Christian at age thirteen (through the worship song ‘The Power of Your Love’) and had experienced a loving Christian upbringing, I had not really had exposure to Christian music outside of the standard church praise and worship. Jars of Clay’s ‘Much Afraid’ in conjunction with this retreat brought about an awakening of my spiritual connection with God.
Prior to this time, I had struggled to read, understand and apply the Bible to my life. I had trouble focusing on sermons at the various churches I had been loosely connected with during my teenage years. What drew me in at the time was the Christian youth within the region, on fire for God. Their energy and passion was contagious. I wanted what they had.
My time within this community, allowed me to realise firstly, that God loved me, and secondly, that I could never truly love, or be loved, until I recognized and embraced that fact. I was God’s precious creation and He cared for me beyond words, beyond pain, beyond belief. Suddenly my whole experience of God had shifted. He was real and He was there with me. I had felt Him as close as the all-familiar sea breeze upon my face.
Can't feel Your breath for the wind...
This was the beginning of my growth in knowing God. And it was as though He knew that the easiest way into my heart was by music, and Jars of Clay hit my heart every time. The more time I spent allowing God’s Spirit to work in me through their music, the more I began to seek out His Word and understand it. I began to see Him alongside me in all facets of my life, guiding my decisions, my thoughts and my dreams.
Job 32:8 (NKJV) states ‘There is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding.’
The breath of the Almighty… Yes, at times life gets hard and we can struggle to feel God’s presence or even believe God is still working within us. However, just because we cannot feel something, does not mean it ceases to exist. There will be times in our lives when we will feel God’s presence strongly, for a specific time and purpose. When we move into a new season, where perhaps we cannot feel God close by, I believe He wants us to draw on our past experiences. He desires us to reconnect and remind ourselves of a time when He was evidently closer, when He intervened almost visibly in our circumstances.
As The Deer...
Recently, after a difficult emotional struggle where I could not ‘feel’ God, and of which I feared I would never be free, God sent me a very powerful assurance in the shape of three deer. Whilst sitting on our balcony gazing out over the water, the three deer appeared from the bush and one of them went down to the water to drink. Immediately I was overcome by the reality of this verse:
‘As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God.” (Psalm 42:1 NKJV).
God did what it took to remind me He was there. It did not take much, but it was just what I needed in the moment, and that memory is one that will sustain me for a long time to come.
He Never Leaves Us
‘For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”’ (Hebrews 13:5 NKJV).
If the Creator of the universe makes you a promise, then you can count on Him to keep it. He will never leave us. And, at times, the only thing we may need to remind us of His presence, will be the breath of the wind on our faces or the sunlight streaming over our hands and feet.
The next time you think you cannot feel God’s presence with you, then slow down and be still. Listen to some spiritual music, keep an eye out for a rainbow or consider the birds of the air. But most of all open your heart and let God in… with the full conviction He will never leave you.
“Sweet Jesus, You never let me go.” – Jars of Clay (Much Afraid)