Keeping His Presence
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. — Philippians 2:12
How much of God’s presence can I have? One thing that I know…there is nothing like the all out, full on presence of the Lord. This past Saturday morning, I left my home at 6:30 a.m. to drive to Ashevelle, NC. I put in my Vertical Church worship CD and just drove. I can’t even describe how majestic it was. I saw a total of 3 crosses. Every one that I passed had this special beam of light that perfectly accented it. Leaves, mountains, birds, beams of light, worship music…everything was screaming that God loved me. I began to feel Him. The feeling just elevated and elevated. I kept asking for more and more. Eventually, I had to stop because my chest began to physically hurt and I had ran out of tears and was tired of blowing my nose. It was absolutely amazing…the longest period of time I have ever been in the presence of the Lord. This has me wondering…how much of His Presence can I have? How often can I feel that?
Somehow, as a church, we got to a point where outside of the church walls Christians don’t work on their salvation. We have adopted this “say a prayer” theology where we repeat “the sinner’s prayer,“ live like we want, then wait to die while hoping that the prayer we said all those years ago somehow makes us “good to go.“ God forbid that we actually have to do anything and actually put some effort into our Christianity. I bought into it big time. I honestly think it was about 7 years after I got saved before I was shown how to read the word of God and apply it to my every day life. Even then, I found that it was extremely hard to do consistently. Bible study and prayer are the easiest things in the world to put off until tomorrow. For years, I put it off and put it off, then wondered why I wasn’t experiencing Him. Why in the world were there men crying in the church service while I felt nothing? What did they have that I didn’t? The answer, of course, is a real deal, authentic relationship with the Lord God Himself.
I have heard from many “down to earth” Christians that it is impossible to maintain the “feeling” of God’s Presence. I am just wondering if that is true. I don’t think that it is…at least, I hope it isn’t. Either way, I really want to find out. I have taken these last three weeks to really work on keeping God on my mind. He is the first thing I read about in the morning. Afterward, I listen to some praise and worship and pray while I’m getting ready, driving to work, and while I’m getting my classroom ready for the students that day. During the day it gets a bit harder, so I write a verse on a note card and keep it in my pocket or read a quick verse in the Bible before my next group comes in. I am trying to make it a priority to think about Him at least once every hour that I am awake. When I drive home, I talk to Him, listen to praise and worship, or listen to a sermon. I pray with my family before dinner. We talk about a story in the Jesus Storybook Bible at bedtime, and finally I will read something about God before I go to sleep.
Now, don’t think that I’m some “Holy Roller” that is trying to say I’m better than anyone else because they don’t do this and I do. In fact, I have yet to make it through a “perfect” day where I’ve met all of my own requirements. But, I have to say, I have experienced God more these past three weeks than I ever have. Also, as a really nice side effect, when the regular things in life don’t go my way, they are just not that big of a deal…I like that. The things of Earth really do grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. If we seek first the kingdom, the other stuff really does get added to us as well.
Even as I type this, the devil is bombarding me with the thoughts that all of this is impossible. On the surface, it does seem impossible. But, I can’t help but believe it is completely doable. Unfortunately, it takes that 4 letter word that every entitled American hates…WORK. There is no reason that we can’t spend a few minutes, or at least a few seconds of every hour thinking about God, then spend longer chunks of time with Him as they becomes available.
For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. — 2 Chronicles 16:9