The Buddhist and Tao temples scattered throughout my home town are intriguing to me. Often you know you are approaching one because the smell from the incense floats down the street, surrounding you even before you see the building. Once you enter, your other senses are also now involved. The murmured prayers and clanging bells engage my hearing; the colours of the statues and offerings glimmer through the smoke; the heat from the abundance of candles and burning incense makes the room hot and stuffy and the smoke from all of these is so thick you can’t help but breathe it in. You even taste it. When you leave, the aroma of the incense remains with you for a bit. There are some people who find the temples overwhelming so they rarely visit them.
These temple visits remind me of visions of God recorded in scripture by Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-7) and others. In Isaiah’s encounter, every sense is awakened and confronted by the presence of God – the sight of God on the throne surrounded by the seraphs; the sound of them calling to each other and worshiping; the smoke that filled the house; and the coal touching his lips. Isaiah was completely infused with the presence of God.
When I seek to encounter God, all of my senses do not seem to be involved. Often, my ears will be distracted by noises around me, my hands may fidget with a pen or coffee cup and my eyes may glance at my calendar or phone. I struggle to spend enough time soaking in his presence, with every part of my being, to allow his holiness and love to awaken and confront me.
Oh LORD, I ask for your help so that I may focus on you with every sense that I possess. May I see you surrounded by your glory, may I hear your voice, may I breath in your spirit, may I taste your goodness and grace, may I feel your love and forgiveness, and may I add my voice to the seraphs as we sing “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
May I then be infused with the presence of God.
By Linda Wolfe, Glen Acres Baptist Church