We were talking at our worship team practice last night about the presence of God. We discussed how we often say/pray things such as “God, we pray that You will be with us” or “Lord, we invite you into our presence” and don’t even realize the irony of it. We think that somehow we are determining the presence and work of God; that if we pray hard enough, sincerely enough or our behavior warrants it, God will show up. All we have to do is call on Him and He will be there.
Here’s a newsflash…God is already there! There is nothing we can do or not do to have more of God or less of God among us.
We can pray like Moses or plead like David and God will not be any more present than He already is. We can run like Jonah or rebel like Saul and that will not diminish the presence of God one iota. As the Psalmist wrote in the 46th Psalm:
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Like radio waves buzzing above our heads, God is all around us. He is here. It is true sometimes we can’t hear Him and we certainly can’t see Him We feel dry at times and don’t feel Him and become detached and don’t sense Him. But He is there. He allows us to pass through the fire, to wrestle with demons and angels, to sit in the den’s of lions, be swallowed by enormous fish, to be led as lambs to the slaughter and to sit alone in the desert places. But He is there…He is there too. He is is here, right now. In the times of great rejoicing and when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. We cry with David: “You are with me.”
God is with us, as we have just reiterated for the six weeks of Advent and Christmas. Can you feel Him? Can you sense Him? Do you experience Him? Perhaps we need to pray harder or read more Scripture….but then again, maybe we don’t. Maybe we are on a journey of faith where we keep putting up those antennas and catching the radio signals and God plays on a particular frequency that we dial in to. And not everyone dials in the same way or is tuned in to the same station. If one of those antenna’s is to pray more, then great…even if its’ not it’s always a good idea to pray more. Maybe the antenna you need to put up is more time alone…or more time with other people. Maybe it’s letting go of resentment or feelings of anger. Maybe it’s doing nothing, saying nothing and just being silent in the presence of God. Maybe its journaling or reflecting or reconciling or singing. The antenna you use today may be different than the one you use tomorrow. Perhaps the season of one formative practice is ending and God is birthing a new practice in you. You just cannot control, manipulate or box in God. He is bigger than our egos, bigger than our demands.
By faith we know that God is present. Whether we “feel’ Him or not. By faith I open my heart and hands to God and if He chooses to reassure me with His presence I am pleased. But if He doesn’t, then I keep on walking, holding onto the hand of the One who will lead me where I need to go. I know by Scripture and experience that most of life is lived in demon filled valleys (Matthew 18) and those transfigurative mountaintop experiences don’t last all that long. But I also know I need to use a variety of practices to form my ears, eyes and mind to expand and perceive the work and person of Jesus. Again, to quote the Psalmist (Psalm 46:7-8):
Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.
By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me-
a prayer to the God of my life.
Instead of inviting God into our presence, maybe we need to thank Him for inviting us into His presence. Instead of praying that God would be with us we may want to instead acknowledge and give thanks to God that He is always with us. Once we begin to change our perception of who is inviting whom we can begin to go forward knowing that He goes with us and we are the one’s along for the ride.