This is one of those “real talk, in the middle of it not at the end when I can put a bow on it, rehearsing truth to myself” posts…
So much Scripture backs it up…
Psalm 139:7-10 – Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
Psalm 16:8 – I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Exodus 33:14-15 – The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.
Isaiah 41:10 – So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
So many Christians present and past have testified to it…
Henri Nouwen – “When we walk in the Lord’s presence, everything we see, hear, touch, or taste reminds us of Him. This is what is meant by a prayerful life.“
Jan Johnson – “It isn’t a matter of achieving God’s presence, but surrendering to God’s presence that is already within the Christian. It’s more than a habit, it’s a fundamental way of living. As a flag or banner waves over a castle continuously, the presence of God hovers around us, sometimes rippling in the wind, other times resting quietly, but always in a place that stands out, that cannot escape the eyes we are training to recognize Him.”
Brother Lawrence – “I cannot imagine how religious persons can live satisfied without the practice of the presence of GOD. For my part I keep myself retired with Him in the depth of centre of my soul as much as I can; and while I am so with Him I fear nothing; but the least turning from Him is insupportable.”
Sometimes I find myself practically practicing the absence of God instead of the presence of God. Meaning, when I use my imagination to wander to future moments, I turn them over and over without actually putting Christ there.
I often don’t imagine Him waiting in that moment for me, or for a loved one, with exactly what I need to be sustained or guided or loved or cared for perfectly. I often don’t imagine the abundance of courage, stability or peace that would be available for my taking. I mostly do imagine how afraid or hurt or disappointed or lonely I or my loved ones might be.
He promises to be with us always. Nothing can change what He has says He will do, because He’s a holy, perfect, truth-telling, unchanging God. He can’t not be in me, with me, near me. Feeling that presence isn’t part of the promise. It’s a generous, kind gift sometimes, but it isn’t the standard for what’s real and true.
Maybe it’s also an admonishment for staying in the right now. Leaving the past where it is and accepting that the future is not my territory. Admitting what is true about myself right now and trusting I’m safe and loved in the presence of God as I am means being truthful (no matter how painful or messy or intense) while also having hope (no matter how uncertain or unfamiliar it seems).
And to be truthful while having hope looks like only imagining my future with a good, powerful God already there waiting for me, ready and delighted to be God for me.
I have a chance to practice this right now in my life. I’ll let you know when I come out on the other side how it went. :)