Presence Driven
by Paul Ellis
Quantum Discovery

"The first establishment of the standard of purpose being connected to presence happened in the garden with Adam."

Writer Ellis brings together stories and history from the Holy Bible and recollections from his personal experience to demonstrate that, though all lives have a purpose, higher goals will not be accomplished without the presence of God. His venture into this compelling theme begins where the biblical record begins, with Adam, in the Garden of Eden. Adam was charged with caring for the sacred garden, giving him both purpose and the presence to succeed. But then, through the wiles of the serpent, he and Eve were forced to begin a new life, tinged with deep regrets as they clung to their sense of God’s guiding presence. Abraham and Sarah, Ellis asserts, always had that presence through God’s covenant, though their long lives would occasion many doubts, especially since Sarah was unable to bear a child. But God did not give up on them, and through the birth of their son, Isaac, the Israeli nation would have its inception.

Other examples of biblical lore are discussed, including the rivalry of Esau and his brother Jacob, a man with selfish purpose who was finally and perhaps literally wrestled to submission by the Lord. Another example is seen in the life of Moses, whose mother “released him into the hand of God.” Then there’s the seemingly indomitable Samson, who, while trying to fulfill his purpose to rescue the Israelites, would be tricked, blinded, and enslaved, but with God’s presence within, would survive and accomplish his goal. The author includes several other pertinent examples: Ruth, whose faith did not waver even in the face of famine; David, for whom sin threatened to destroy the presence of God he had once been blessed with; Jonah, fleeing the purpose that God had charged him with and repenting in the belly of a whale; Esther, who understood that her purpose required her to set aside her selfish needs. These and others are explored in the light of the book’s overarching thesis: for all people, one’s purpose must be supported by divine presence.

Ellis is a Christian minister, and with his wife, Val, he has traveled to and served as a preacher and teacher in eleven countries. He has created a well-researched narrative enlivened by his ability to interweave stories from his marriage and family-building. Vividly described incidents include the births of their four sons, noting “they did not come with an instruction manual,” unlike Samson, whose mother received specific instructions from the Lord for her child. Ellis also implants folkish humor and wisdom to enhance his focus on the various individuals depicted, such as this comment about the plot spun by Jacob to steal his brother’s birthright: “Once you’ve told a lie, then there usually comes another lie to try and cover the first one.” He provides visual imagery in his conception of what Jonah experienced, both on board a tempest-tossed ship and trapped inside the whale’s gut, where the prophet would discover that “to be vomited… is better than being digested.” These literary touches add motivating power to the ancient, scriptural segments, reminding current-day readers that though they too are subject to temptations and setbacks, by choosing God as the final authority and acknowledging and welcoming his presence, they can experience and enjoy abiding purpose.

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