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In the Presence

Back in the early 70's, Moira had the thrill of meeting Prince Philip, who was in Canada to present "The Duke of Edinburgh Award" for physical fitness. Her synchronized swimming team performed for the royal guest, and then wrapped in towels and still dripping from the Peterborough YMCA pool, they greeted him with a handshake.  It was chatty, informal and memorable! 

Apparently, meeting his wife can be much more nerve racking. A long list of protocols offers one guidance on how to behave in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.  

In the Oscar-winning movie, The Queen, the newly elected Prime Minister Tony Blair received a detailed list of instructions that intensified a sense of performance pressure: 

"When we reach the audience room, I will knock… Standing by the door we bow, from the neck. I will introduce you. The Queen will extend her hand. You go to her, bow again, then shake her hand. …It's ‘Ma'am' as in ham, not ‘Marm' as in farm…. And when you're In the Presence, at no point must you show your back. That's what it's called when you're in Her Majesty's company." 

If you know Moira, you know that she loves most things royal. The respect of office around the British monarchy and its traditions helps to preserve some of the awe and ‘otherness' that the High King of Heaven, Jesus Christ is due. God warns of judgment for those who "… go on doing evil and do not regard the majesty of the Lord" (Isaiah 26:10). But "The Wonder of it All," as the late George Beverly Shea loved to sing, is to think that God loves you and me intimately, personally and profoundly. 

The verse of another hymn comes to mind:  I stand amazed in the presence Of Jesus the Nazarene And I wonder how He could love me, A sinner condemned, unclean.  O how marvelous! O how wonderful! 

The wonder of God's transcendence and imminence is expressed in Isaiah 57:15 (NIV): 

"For this is what the high and exalted One says—  He who lives forever, whose name is holy:  ‘I live in a high and holy place,  but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit,  to revive the spirit of the lowly  and to revive the heart of the contrite.'"  

Unlike meeting with an earthly queen, there's nothing complicated or intimidating about a private audience with the King of kings. In fact, Jesus said: 

"Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3 NIV).  

Simple childlike faith and full surrender is the proper etiquette. The Creator of all things - the Eternal One - will come and make His home in your heart by His indwelling Holy Spirit. There really are no formalities once you belong to God's Forever Family. You have all the rights, privileges of a child of the King. 

"Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:16). 

The Message translation says:  "Now that we know what we have— Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God— let's not let it slip through our fingers.  We don't have a priest who is out of touch with our reality.  He's been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin.  So let's walk right up to Him and get what He is so ready to give.  Take the mercy, accept the help" (Hebrews 4:14-16 MSG). 

 Jesus made the invitation clear: 

"Whosoever will may come!" (Revelation 22:17) 

Our King is always waiting with open arms and a listening ear. Run to Him!   

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