The latest Sercombe motorbike adventure was to the Outer Hebrides. Just me, my big BMW R1200GS and my red tent. In case you’ve never been there – and few people round West Sussex have as it’s 730 miles away – this string of islands is off the northwest coast of Scotland, windy, rainy and cold.
And in the middle of a mile-long deserted pristine beach I saw this:
No footprints anywhere near, except mine, and by the time I left my idyllic wild campsite overlooking the sea, the engraving was no more – washed away by the waves.
Of course it was me. In a moment of spontaneous inspiration I carved “I AM HERE” with my foot in the sand – and the thought dominated my week, as I contemplated my life, my business, God, the universe, and my future. Today I’ve been thinking about it again as I camped out last night in the wilds of the South Downs catching up with some reading. A bit existentialist I know, but the truth is, I am here, and I will be ‘here’ for a while yet. Wherever I am, I AM. It’s the inescapable truth, and on the basis that the truth frees us, I’m enjoying the freedom.
Yep, I’m here, and it is up to me to make of it what I will.
I’m not on that beach any more. I am here instead, writing this blog. I moved on, came back to Sussex, and I’m two weeks older, and although I have a camera full of Hebridean photos – Butt of Lewis lighthouse, the rocky hillsides of Harris, Benbecula, Eriskay, and a welcoming pink roofed cafe in Lochmaddy – I can never, ever, recapture that moment on the beach.
In times of quiet solitude I become particularly aware of the presence of God ‘here’, where I am, with me. It is as if He has said, not written in sand but whispered as a permanent statement deep within, “Andrew, I am here” – wherever I am, always. Regardless of the ups and downs of my life, I’m never actually alone. The Divine Presence, the Creator, present in the world He created. With me. Here. Now. For ever.
And today that is sufficient for me. In fact overwhelmingly more so. Far more important than success, or money. God is here.
And He is where you are too – such is the omnipresent nature of the Holy Spirit. Unhampered by the limitations of time and space, God is with you as you read this on your screen – closer, actually.
3000 years ago a gifted young shepherd on the run from his tormentors wrote about it. Stunningly poetic, he wrapped it up in a way I’ll never be able to. I’ve put a few key bits of his poem for you to read quietly before you move on into the rest of your week. Take a few moments – ten minutes? – to stop and reconnect. And whilst you’ll already know that I am here for you today (yes, me, Andrew. Just a phone or Skype call or email away), far more importantly, He is too.
“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down, you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”
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