“Lift up your heads, O gates; rise up you ancient portals that the King of glory may enter. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts is the King of glory.” (Psalm 24:9-10)
At the time of Moses, God would make himself present in the Meeting Tent and speak to Moses. (Exodus 33:7-11) Later, the Israelites built a temple for God in Jerusalem where he was present in the Ark of the Covenant.
In the above psalm, the psalmist is declaring that the gates of the city be opened so that the people could experience God’s visitation and presence. A millennium later, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well that “the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem…true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.” (John 4:21, 23) He would also declare that the “the Kingdom [of God] is within you.” (Luke 17:21 NIV) St. Paul would add, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16)
God’s desire is not to reside in a Temple of bricks and mortar, but in the temple of our hearts. Let me illustrate with a story.
Beverly is an oncology nurse and says to her patients as she begins an IV, “Let’s pray that this IV will be painless.” At some point she will ask her patients if she can pray with them. They always say okay. At a time when medical care can become quite impersonal, Beverly says, “We get very close to many of our patients. I went to Pat’s house to help her out before she died. We’ll go to the hospital and pray with patients, even in a coma. People tell me, ‘You shouldn’t get so close to your patients,’ but I tell them that ‘this is my God job.’”
Beverly is bringing God’s presence to the patients that come to her clinic. She cares for them; she intercedes for them; as a Gospel singer and concert violinist, she sings and plays for them – she loves them just as Jesus would love them if he were physically present. He is physically present to them through Beverly.
When we open the gates of our heart to his presence, God shares his own Holy Spirit with us. The Spirit of God comes to dwell in us and empower us to do the same things that Jesus did and even greater things. (John 14:12) God’s love becomes our love, his strength becomes our strength and his word becomes our word – all for the purpose of bringing about his Kingdom through us to the people and circumstances of our lives.
Lift up the gates of my heart, O Lord, that the love and mercy of your presence may be present to all you place in my path – my wife and family, friends, colleagues, bosses, subordinates, customers, suppliers and strangers.
Have you lifted up the gates of your heart to God and his Holy Spirit?