Nearer My God to Thee


There are times in a Christian’s journey when we just “know” something, when we comprehend something, when we must do something. Sometimes we call this that “soft still voice” but there really isn’t a voice, it’s more of an understanding, I think. Well, whatever you call it, however you describe it, experience teaches us over time that one must go where this “voice” leads, and I had such a moment last week.

It was early in the morning, a morning in which the weather was not really cooperating with my vacation plans, yet it was quite alluring in its own way. When I awoke before the sun was up, I wondered at first what that racket was, but as my sleep clouded brain began to clear, I realized that it was raining cats and dogs outside. Then it stopped for a while, then it started again, then it stopped…

Walking to breakfast, I realized that the air was quite warm; steamy really, and when the rain picked up again, it was warm as well. After breakfast, the clouds seemed to be breaking up and the sun appeared intermittently as the clouds moved across the sky, and one of the workers said, “Wet in the morning, hot in the afternoon mon; yah mon hot later today mon.” I decided to head for the deserted beach; why not? If I’m going to the beach, I’m going in the water, and the sea is pretty wet, what’s a little rain?

I had the place to myself, and then there was that “soft still voice”

For the sake of telling the story, I’m going to make this a conversation in words, but at least for me, the leading of the Spirit is more a matter of comprehension than hearing voices, which is not something I ever do as such… OK?

“Hey Don, go that way.” I went that way. After a ways, I was out beyond where I had been previously: “Over there is a point out in the water, you’ll see it when you get there, go that way.”


“It’s OK.”

I went that way, but I hesitated where there was a sign announcing what I will just call a “non-traditional” dress code and a “non-traditional” beach.

“Do you trust me?”


I complied.

I continued through the deserted beach, and it began to rain again until I found the point that stuck out into the sea, about 20 – 25 feet above the raging surf. The resort had flattened and smoothed the rock here so that you could walk on it or sit down if you wanted to without being cut to ribbons by the jagged rock; there was no railing, so I was careful on the wet surface; the rain stopped and the sky began to clear again. “Take a seat.”

I sat as close to the edge as I dared…

I was facing out to sea, there was no vestige of humanity or civilization that was in view, at least that I could detect. The sun was warm, the wind was vibrant, and the occasional splash from the waves below was invigorating. I saw the turbulence of the storm in the churning of the waves which had been so calm the evening before, and the huge puffy white clouds in the brilliant blue sky were simply amazing as they danced across the sky in three layers above me. I was filled with a sense of the power, majesty and glory of God’s creation; it was amazing, awesome, inspiring… sorry, but there just aren’t the words to fully describe the scene. It simply is inadequate to say that this was “moving” but that’s the word I’ll settle for, since I can’t think of a better one right now. At that moment, I comprehended that there was literally nothing between me and God, either spiritually, thanks to what our Lord has done on the cross, or in the physical, metaphorical sense, and as that comprehension made its way across my consciousness, I remembered a conversation I had with a gentleman the day before, a question about the differences between what Scripture teaches and what culture and tradition teach.

“I made you this way, you were meant to live this way with nothing between you and me, but now you live in a fallen world and everything seems to come between us. Your brothers will not see this place the way you are seeing it now because culture, tradition and the sins of men stand in their way.”

I just sat there and let the implications of this crash through my brain, I’ve never really comprehended the weight of this before, outside of an academic abstract sense. It struck me that the dress code is irrelevant, really no more than a metaphor. What counts, what really impedes us in our relationships with God are the barriers we put between us, whether they are cultural, traditions of men, academic principles, our own attitudes and perspectives about things, daily life, cares… all of these can be barriers between us that we more or less take for granted. Yet God, through Jesus Christ has taken the barriers away, and we still think we are a long way off from his presence; What a needless tragedy that is! It is a tragedy entirely of our human design.

I don’t really know for sure how long I was out there on that point. It sprinkled for a little while, and stopped, and then it rained and stopped… and then I left and returned to “polite society” yet it couldn’t have been more than a half hour or 45 minutes at the most.

To wrap up this little story, I can only say that for that short time, I saw the glory of God in a more dramatic way than ever before, I was in His presence like never before, and I think that I understand the barriers that we have devised between God and Man like never before. I must also add that I will be forever thankful for that moment in time. Yet as I write all of this, I wonder how can  I share this story with others; I hesitate to post it here, and I’m only doing so because the words “Do you trust Me?” keep floating around my head.

Why? Because most listeners and readers won’t hear or read anything except the dress code on that completely deserted beach, and do you know what? If I hadn’t been there, that’s all I would have   heard too. But then I did say it was a metaphor, and isn’t that a great illustration of His whole lesson?

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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18 Responses to Nearer My God to Thee

  1. Bette Cox says:

    Being alone with God is terrifying to most Christians; terrifying desirable to a few who seek his presence. He has given you a treasure to cherish, Don.

  2. Elaine says:

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful experience Don!

  3. photojaq says:

    Almost the same concept hit me recently. It was from the scripture passage that says Christ’s death RECONCILED us to God. And I thought …. with my sin sent far away, covered, forgiven, it is as though I can walk in Eden in the cool of the evening and meet with God, my Creator. Nothing hampers it now that Christ tore that veil that separates us. Absolutely wonderful thought. And if I recall, Adam and Even had that same “dress code.”

    • Don Merritt says:

      Yes, it is a wonderful thought and an even better reality! As for dress codes, yes they did, but I tried not freak people out about the small stuff; the “wonderful thought” is too important to miss!

  4. paulfg says:

    Applied Relationship.
    Your words moved me. In a way I find hard to put into words. Because your love and trust and relationship is there for all to see in every post, every walk through a bible book, each time you lay out The Word so simply.
    Yet here it is raw. Unfiltered. So real. So very very real.
    No verses. No walk. No pondering. Just a very special place in your eyes, your heart and without any barrier at all between you and Him.
    I feel privileged to have connected at such a deep and honest way. I feel honoured to have been trusted with your trust. Your words moved me. And these words only scatch the surface in explaining why.
    Thank you.

  5. Steve B says:

    I love watching the surf breaking on rocks. 🙂

  6. He never leaves us but we often leave him.

  7. Tom says:

    Awesome story! God is bigger than us and we need to be careful to not put Him in a box. God wants to reveal Himself in many ways if we will just be open and keep our eyes open.

  8. gw says:

    Awesome! I cherish those moments of divine revelation that neither words nor language can describe.

  9. Don, what a sacred few moments. Indescribable, really. Those heart-to-heart, hear-His-voice, relationship moments when you know you must follow. Nothing short of amazing. Thank you for letting us in.

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