If you haven’t read chapter one yet, you can find that at levipierpont.com/c1.

During my season of intense religiosity growing up, I memorized a passage that had quite an effect on my prayer life.

“When you face all sorts of trials, you should think of them as wonderful, joyful things, because you know that trials in your life, testings of your faith, produce perseverance. And if you let perseverance finish its work, you will be mature and complete—you won’t lack anything. If you lack wisdom, ask God, who gives generously to all, and he will give it to you. When you ask, though, you must trust God to fulfill his promises, because if you ask God for his will in your life but do not trust him to accomplish it, you are a doubter, you are like a wave in the sea, tossed by the wind. If you’re asking like that, you shouldn’t be expecting anything from the Lord. People like that are double-minded and unstable.”

James 1:2-8, heavily paraphrased

The first few lines impacted me the most, so I would often simply ask God for trials. I think I was so anti-“prosperity gospel” growing up (still am, actually…) that I believed you could only really depend on God to answer your prayers for further sanctification through suffering—all that praying for blessing was wishy-washy, in my humble tween opinion. Oh, goodness, did He give me trials! And I went from being a very depressed child, to being a very depressed teen.

Feeling the Presence

In between those two very long seasons, though, there were two or three occurrences that I believe walked me through all of it. Before I fell asleep, lying alone in the dark, I would cry out to God, asking Him if He really loved me, and could He just please show me? And one night, for the first time, I felt His comforting Presence in a way that I never knew I could. I knew that no matter what I said, He would hear me. Imagine that—an audience of the Creator of the universe, up close, His ear attune to the longing of my heart.

Growing up in the midwest, we had our share of snow. For about four months every year, the world seemed to be covered in white blankets, falling upon each other in cleansing layers.  I loved it. Many times, I can remember getting all of my snow clothes on and taking a walk while white flakes flew all around me. After I grew tired of walking with all the extra weight, I’d lay in the snow, my body imprinting the perfect shape of me into the ground, and I’d watch the snow as it fell. It was so gloriously comfortable, a cocoon of layers, tucked away in the quiet peace of a snowy afternoon. It is the best image I can think of when trying to illustrate what the Presence of God feels like. It is safety, warmth amidst the cold of the world. It is a divine hug. It is finding oneself in the vast and mysterious image of God. It was, truly, the best thing I ever experienced, and to this day, the one thing I pursue above everything.

I believe God gave me that as a guiding ray of hope for hard times. The memory of it—and my constant pursuit of it—walked me through many seasons when I wondered if I’d ever taste it again.

When chapter three is available, it will be found at levipierpont.com/c3.

This post was written in August of 2018 and originally published in February of 2019.