The Power of Presence, by Guest Blogger Mary Yerkes

by Mary Yerkes, guest blogger 

In Week 3 of the 7th year, Alicia invites you to fill in your Life Scroll with moments of “severe bruising and disappointment.” This post is an snapshot of a healing encounter I had with God during a silent retreat.  At the time, Alicia had not yet created The 7th Year, and I had yet to experience the fullness that comes from 52 weeks week of intimacy with God.  I share this experience because I believe it mirrors the experiences of many who find freedom and fullness on their journey toward wholeness through The 7th Year.

The landscape reflected the state of my soul—barren with few signs of life.

In the solitude of winter, nestled in a rustic room with mountain views, I had come to seek God and pray about an extended sabbatical.  Tucked inside a small cottage on the grounds of a bed and breakfast in the Shenandoah Valley, I spent the first night sobbing uncontrollably and pouring out my heart “like water before the presence of the Lord.” (Lamentations 2:19 NASB)

The next day, I began my morning with a time of listening prayer.  To start, I prayed the words of Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” (NASB)

Wrapped in His presence and love, random images came to my mind—a large, red “A+” marked in the corner of a page on a first-grade project, framed ribbons for excellence and deportment I received in first-grade, and a teacher who, beaming ear to ear, held me up as an example before the class.

I remember each of those incidents clearly, as well as the message they conveyed. Love and approval come through performance. More activities and projects equal more love.

While others may not have made that connection, I did. This convergence of events, along with the inability of my six-year-old mind to correctly interpret them, set me on a path of compulsive busyness and over-production that resulted in increasing levels of anxiety and depression.

Yet, I seemed incapable of overcoming this unhealthy pattern on my own.

How do I break this unhealthy pace of life, Lord?” I prayed.

I did not have a word from God or any sense of an answer. So I just sat in God’s presence, telling Him of my love.

His presence itself was healing.

Disappointed but not deterred, I sensed the answer to that question would unfold over time. Over the course of that weekend, I read scripture, wrote in my journal, and took long walks in the country.

By the end of the weekend, a simple realization had dawned on me—constant activity erodes the soul. The more we do, the more impoverished we become, unless we are intentional about spending extended time in God’s presence. Although I had always spent time with the Lord, times of lingering in His presence were nonexistent due to a demanding work schedule.

As I drove home, I was aware that deep soul surgery had taken place, although I could not tell you how. I did, however, recognize the role choice had played in the process.

Still, lifelong habits and patterns die hard, and there are many times, even now, when I push beyond my limits. I am grateful for friendships with a handful of women who keep me in check. Although their words sometime cut deep, they are healing, much like a scalpel in the hand of a surgeon.

Lessons from that weekend long ago still inform my choices. But perhaps the greatest take away from it all is the healing power of God’s presence.


Bio: Mary Yerkes helps people live and lead from the inside out through writing, speaking, and coaching. Visit Mary online at and


  1. elaine @ peace for the journey says:

    Mary, I’m learning to let go of constant activity. Sometimes, I feel guilty about it, like I’m being lazy. But then I understand that resting is God’s presence isn’t anything akin to laziness. Instead, it’s active participation with the divine. So much can be gained in a time of purposeful rest with the Father.


  2. Mary says:

    Amen, sister!!!!

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