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Close to You - My Sky is Blue

labadee haiti boat dock close to you my skies are blue by quiara pinchina port au prince
the boat dock at Labadee, Haiti - our trip last June

We were late for church on Sunday morning. And as we bumped over the potholes, past a man in a black suit riding a bicycle, past the dry dusty sugarcane fields of Route Barbancourt, we talked of ordinary things. How we were in fact late once again. How the noise under the car seemed to be getting worse.

When we arrived, they were singing the last opening song in French, one of my favorites and I sang the chorus by memory as I searched for an envelope with my name on it to give tithe. The church was full of singers, 105 people swaying to the rhythm and singing slowly and soulfully.

After Sunday school, our minister said, "I want to talk about the presence of God." He read the first verse of the beautiful French hymn again...

Oh Jesus, your holy presence

Is the source of happiness.

In our joys and in our sorrows

You are where our hearts can rest.

Make your face to shine upon me

Oh Jesus, oh lamb of God!

At your feet is where my place is -

Close to you my sky is blue.

When we feel troubled, he said, it is often not exactly our circumstances that are the cause. Usually we feel fear. We feel we are alone. We feel we are too weak to face the job in front of us.

All of these feelings come when we are not in the presence of God. When he is not a part of our world, even the most well-thought-out plans can come to nothing. Our hearts know this. So being separated from God brings cloudy skies and an unsettled spirit, even when things seem to be going well for us.

But close to God, our skies are blue. We feel a certain inner peace in the middle of outer chaos, and we have the strength to take one more step even if we can't see the outcome.

The devil's goal - his biggest dream - is snatching our spirits out of God's presence. He comes with distracting thoughts and dinging cell phones just when we should be feeling God's presence the most - in church or during our personal quiet times with God.

And when things go wrong, he will always try to convince us that God is abandoning us.

In the beginning of their walk with God, the Israelites had a cloud and a pillar to clearly mark God's presence. I wish I had some physical marker like they had. In this day and age, how do I truly know if I am walking in God's presence? After all, we hear so many times that being a Christian cannot be based on emotions.

Our minister says that it is up to us to stay in God's presence. When the nation of Israel experienced defeat and loss, it was because they made a choice to walk away from God. They were never abandoned. They chose to leave.

And then there is the story in Mark 6. Jesus sent his disciples ahead while he prayed alone. They were in a tiny boat, and the wind picked up. Things started getting crazy. And Jesus, their leader, was not there. They felt abandoned. But they weren't. Jesus came, walking on the water, just in time to save the situation. And they again felt the comfort of His presence - peaceful sea, and blue skies.

Stay in the presence of God this week. I wish you blue skies.

Here's a link I found to the song:

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