God’s presence has been heavy on my mind for several days. Jesus Calling entries have ignited these thoughts.
My friend Kory and I discussed it in passing today, but a good percentage of our conversation was on the global impact of Jesus as His message takes root outside of Nashville. I grew up outside of Nashville, and I even started school in Guam. I went to college and grad school here in Nashville. My dad was a Church of Christ pastor growing up, so you could say religion played a pivotal part in making me who I am today. I’ve embraced it as my own as I’ve written before, but now I think about things like the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Church of Christ used to cringe at that kind of semantic, but thankfully those years are gone for some of us. One blog writer separates Holy Spirit gifts and fruit, and she said you can have one without the other. That would be an interesting study. I’m fond of listing the fruits on here. They are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. My dad had my brothers and me memorize them many years ago. You can read more about them in Galatians 5. The gift of the Holy Spirit is mentioned in infamous Church of Christ verse Acts 2.38. I plead ignorance in exactly what the gift of the Holy Spirit is except to say that I think It’s God Himself. I know the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express, and I can only assume that means that the Spirit, Father and Son have conversations in the heavenly locations. I’m not saying they can’t descend to earth. They can assemble wherever they want since they kind of own the whole planet. They don’t need a real estate agent.
Kory is right. If we saw with our own two eyes the unseen forces around us at this very moment fear would be the least of our worries. It could possibly scare us to death. Literally.
But God’s presence is not about scaring us to death. It’s about the promise behind Emmanuel as we approach the Christmas season. It’s about the fact that though very bad things continue to happen He has still overcome the world.
As independent entitled Americans sometimes we have a hard time swallowing the submission pill. Submission is not something we enjoy thinking about because as Americans we have a strong sense of fairness and personal rights. After all we are striving for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness aren’t we? We want our starter house, and eventually we want to retire to Florida with 5 million dollars in the bank to tied us over till we die.
God presence is about submission. I’m not at all saying the things I listed above are wrong. Much the opposite. I’m trying to reframe our thinking to seeking our Maker Who gives us those things. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you. It’s more of the paradox we call life. I don’t seek His presence because He gives me stuff. I seek Him simply to be with Him. I want to be like Him. I want to be near Him. I want my wife and daughter to be in His protection. I want them to feel His presence because when I’m not here He will be. Death scares us, but it does not scare Him because He defeated it through His Son.
Wow. Just wow. Praise His name.
So what do we do when life comes at us with fear, anger and loneliness? When the last thing on our minds is God’s presence what do we do? I pray that the Holy Spirit somehow show me that He is near. Scripture is plain that when we seek Him we will find Him. That’s comforting to me. We don’t have to make an appointment, get permission, mail, text or email Him. He is accessible 24/7 directly from our minds and hearts.
I sing with my kiddos on Wednesday nights at church, “He came from heaven to earth to show the way. From the earth to the cross my debt to pay. From the cross to the grave. From the grave to the sky. LORD I lift Your Name on high.”
Jesus Christ is the ultimate God presence. The entire New Testament reveals this Jesus to us, and one of my favorite Old Testament chapters that talks about Him is Isaiah 53. He loves us with an abandon that so many incredible worship songs tell us. We can’t exhaust that love. It’s unconditional. It’s never ending, and no matter how many times we sin that love never pushes us away or divorces us. There will come a day when sin will not be a struggle as it is now. As it is now Satan is still among us, and I’d imagine he’s desperate as he knows his days are numbered. He doesn’t know how long he is. Only One knows that, but Satan knows that the more he sows discord in the body of Christ the more recruits he’ll have in his cause. Sometimes it seems that number is greater than the number that call on Christ as LORD, but let me conjecture it isn’t. There are 7 billion on planet earth, and He created every last one of us. He knows us all by name, and He knows how many hairs are on each head.
He knows each one of our proclivities to fall, and He is more than familiar with the chains that anchor us day after day. He can also set us free from all of that. He doesn’t force us to break the chains, but when we go before Him with a willing heart for them to be broken He breaks them at a moments notice. That’s the kind of God He is. He’s not an all seeing eye-ball trying to bust us every time we forget to dot an i or cross a t.
He’s a loving Father Who longs for us to know that His presence is enough.
And it always will be.