Some have complained already that my post yesterday was too dark and scary. I still stick to my initial thought that the film presents a reality that we often try to avoid and ignore, but oh well… keep taking that blue pill.
Anyways, on a more hopeful note, I’ve been reflecting on the value of the presence of God. I’ve often said that being in His presence was really important to me. I’ve led worship for years saying that I want to “experience” or “enter” His presence. I’ve prayed time and time again for his presence to fall. And how did I know I was in His presence? Well for most of my Christian journey I knew by feeling an emotional connection or a “spiritual high.” You know the one you get when you go to a fun praise night or a retreat. That emotional feeling of joy, excitement, and conviction. Or perhaps God’s presence means bawling during an intense prayer meeting or feeling “filled with the Spirit” to do ministry. And so certainly when things are depressing and ministry is failing it means that I’ve somehow run away from Him or that His presence has left me right? I mean there has to be more to it, and God has continually been expanding my view of what it means to abide in Him.
In the desert of constantly wondering if God’s presence and favor is even on me, one thing God has continued to challenge me to do is to not have it all figured out or have it all together, but to just push forward day by day. To push forward into my calling. To push forward into obedience to His commandments. To push forward in my ministry or in serving others, even when it feels like there is no fruit. Even when I don’t feel it or want to do it. Little did I know was He teaching me a lesson about His presence. That despite not feeling God through the midsts of most of it, I can look back and constantly see His hand leading me and helping me push through my lowest lows. I was in His presence the whole time.
I mean isn’t this what this means when Jesus teaches that to abide in Him means to obey His commandments? That our experience of His presence goes beyond just what we feel inside, but actually in how we will live our life when our feelings don’t necessarily match what God calls us to do? As I’ve been just pushing forward taking the days one by one, I’ve constantly wondered when my breakthrough would come and felt so distant from God. But I’ve been continuously surprised that through my emotional turmoil and doubt, He has shown me His goodness. I’ve seen time and time again that He is for me and that He cares about the things most precious to me. That the act of faithfully pushing forward step by step through the desert is an experience of His presence in my life.
The other thing I’ve just been learning about being in the presence of God is that sometimes it just requires just sitting with God. Not necessarily for any purpose. Not because it feels so wonderful and great. But just to sit there. Much like Mary who becomes entranced with Jesus in her house that she just sits at His feet all day. There is this Rita Springer CD, “Beautiful You.” It’s just 80 minutes of her leading a live worship set, and is one of the most powerful worship CDs I’ve heard in a long time. Lately I would just play it, listen, and sit. I don’t feel anything different. I still feel the pain, the uncertainty, and the doubt. But as I just am and let the lyrics of truth enter my ears, wash over my soul. As I add my imperfect spontaneous lyrics of brokenness to Rita’s prerecorded worship set, my soul just seems to know. “I am in God’s presence.”
I’m not quite sure how to explain it. His presence in these moments isn’t really an incredible experience of joy or a peace after a storm, but rather a quiet knowledge. Perhaps a deeply rooted trust that God is with me and that I have nothing to worry about. It’s so subtle… so still. Perhaps as one prophet describes it, it is kind of like a gentle whisper in the midsts of craziness. An easy to miss reminder that God sees me and is with me. And for once in a long time, despite still feeling all the crappy things I feel, there’s just a quiet peace that it will be okay. This is His presence.
Honestly, I struggle to even fully articulate my experience with God. All I know is that to be in God’s presence is not just an important idea, but truly our lifeline. And that the experience of His presence goes so much beyond an emotional high, but a steady obedience to His call on our lives and a quiet trust in his faithfulness.
Anyways, with all that said, what do you guys think? What does it mean to be in God’s presence for you? How has God shaped and matured your understanding of what it means to be in His presence?