R.C. Sproul said, “
The highest goal of the Christian life is to behold the face of God.”
Dallas Willard said, “The first and most basic thing we can and must do is to keep God before our minds. This is the fundamental secret of caring for our souls.”
Both of these profound statements indicate a more integrated life of faith than the legalistic one I fell into in my teen years. From ages 18-25, I thought there was a right way to do and have ‘relationship with God’ and there was the not good enough way.
Good enough meant staying up to date with content from solid authors, pastors and Christian thought leaders; on paper having the relevant bullet points (ministry volunteer, lots of relationships aka discipleship opportunities, a Bible full of notes and journals open at every worship service); the perception of others that I was a woman faithful and worthy of love (and friendship).
You know what wasn’t good? My restless anxiety, my fear of failure, my pride and image-management.
You know what wasn’t enough? A genuine experience of God’s presence, His voice, His peace.
I heard recently a definition of the fear of the Lord… the assurance that God is watching.
If I didn’t personally know God, even in the short 22 years I have believed in Him, this fact would be terrifying. (And not in the right way, but the way that makes me want to run and hide.)
But it isn’t.
Convicting? Yes. Sobering? Sometimes. Comforting? Definitely. Awe-inspiring? For sure. Humbling? Always.
That brings me to coram Deo. Have you heard the phrase? I can’t remember the first time I heard it, but it was easily 5+ years ago.
It’s Latin for “before the face of God.”
To live coram Deo is to live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God. To live in the presence of God is to understand that whatever we are doing and wherever we are doing it, we are acting under the gaze of God. God is omnipresent. There is no place so remote that we can escape His penetrating gaze.VIA
The idea of living coram Deo is revolutionizing my life with the Lord. Because in a day in time where distractions are constant, options are endless, and information is a mashup of Mt. Everest and a vat of hot lava, what changes me is a simple acknowledgement of His eyes are seeking out mine, am I looking toward or away?
His presence is equal in all moments. In the hustle and bustle and busyness of my external and internal world, I forget this. Sometimes intentionally, other times not.
A real-life example. The girls are in bed and John’s at a meeting. It’s been a long day, so much stimulus, and I want to escape into a fictional world, book or movie. I know I’m not doing it for real leisure, I’m doing it to avoid feeling something. I’d rather avoid or numb. Now, use your imagination. Imagine Christ sitting across from me, kind and available and wanting to meet my moment’s need, and instead of being still and relaxing into that beautiful reality with a few quiet moments and trusting openness to Him, I hold up my laptop in front of his face, my show blasting through the speakers.
Doesn’t that seem ridiculous? If Jesus is sitting across from me why in the world would I use my phone or computer or a box of Cheez-its to block His face? What would make me want to avoid His eyes? What would make me look away? And how glorious would it be to bask in His joyful attention? Daily!
Maybe that’s silly to you, but it’s an image that convicts and inspires my choices regularly. Coram deo.
A face to face kind of friendship with Him. Moses had it. And He didn’t even have God inside him.
A life devoted to God instead of consumed with the “right” devotions. A life of entrusting every day what is out of my control but also what is in it, what is outside of me but also what is inside. Trusting Him with me.
Living present to, posture toward not away from, an all-powerful, perfectly loving God who is present in me.
It. is. worth. practicing.