I’ve been enduring a long spiritual winter of sorts. God’s voice has been much harder to discern and my sense of his presence has been nearly absent (though he’s been with me the whole time). It’s like my mountain of faith has been chipped away to mustard seed size—still enough to move a mountain, but not as much fun.

Lately I’ve been asking God many questions: What’s happening to me? Why now? What have I done to contribute to this winter? Is this you, God, or is my life’s Narnia under the spell of a white witch? When is the thaw coming?

Last night, awakening at 11:15pm to realize I’d drifted off praying in my easychair, I trudged up the stairs and slipped into bed. Nothing perceptible had come to me in my prayer time, but I reaffirmed my love for Jesus. I asked him to help me navigate this season of my life without giving in to the lure of fleshly striving. The spiritual life is about response, not initiative; trust, not pushing.

As I lay in my bed, too warm yet to sleep, a luscious breeze swirled through the open window near our bed and teased my skin. As I relished the cool respite, God whispered to my soul.

“I am in the breeze.” Not that he WAS the breeze, but that he was IN the breeze. He was in the gift the cooling air was to my hot body. I craned my neck to look out the window, from where the breeze had been sent. A streetlight’s glare met my searching eyes. Another thought came: “I am the light in your darkness.” Turning over, the bed felt so good. “I gave you this bed. I am in the gift it represents.” My thoughts turn to Shauna’s silent form beside me. “I am in your wife.” “I am in the darkness of night that gives you rest.” I eventually drifted off into a peaceful sleep.

I awoke this morning, and my mind was on a profoundly thankful track: Thankful for my house: “I am in your house.” Thankful for my kids: “I’m in them too.” Thankful for a cozy bed and cuddle time before school: “I’m in that too.” On and on it goes—our dog, my computer, the air I breathe—and as my heart swells with gratitude and thankfulness, a two-fold realization dawns on me:

1. You cannot revel in the presence of God for long if you are intently focused on what God is withholding, what you want him to give and do.
2. A thankful spirit awakens you to the fact that God is everywhere, filling his good gifts with scintillating remnants of his heart so that a thankful soul is always drenched in the presence of God.