In The Presence
Recently, I have been reading and studying The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. The message is both simple and profound - wherever you are and whatever you are doing, dwell in the presence of God. You see, as Christians, God's presence is always with us; in fact, He lives within us (1 Corinthians 3:16, 2 Corinthians 6:16, 2 Timothy 1:14, Romans 8:11). It's a sobering fact, really. If God dwells in us and is with us always, are we doing and saying things that would be pleasing to Him or dishonoring of Him?
"In Your presence is fullness of joy..." (Psalms 16:11). Who doesn't want joy? And fullness of joy, at that? God's presence is always within us, but we are usually so busy or focused on ourselves and our temporal needs and desires, that we don't fully experience the joy that is His presence. We don't have to feel alone, isolated, overwhelmed, or stressed. We don't have to take on the world by ourselves and in our own strength. "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble" (Psalms 46:1). So, why wouldn't we turn to Him, our source of strength and our source of life, to help us? You know when you are at church or in the car singing songs and worshiping God, and you have such peace just from sensing His presence with you while you seek Him? It's such a transcendent experience to worship the Lord. Then, you go back to work, family and responsibilities and get caught up with life. And, when you get weary and burdened by life, you begin to long to just lock yourself in your room or go to church and spend time with God recharging. We all need times of refreshment, away from the busyness of life, but why limit the peace and joy of God's presence to just a church service or singing in your car on the way to work? We can fully live in God's presence day in and day out, while we're silent and seeking Him, and while we're busy with life's demands.
So, how do we dwell in God's presence? Well, how do we dwell with other people? We talk to them. We spend time with them. Our relationship with God is just that - a relationship. As we are driving, doing the dishes, taking out the trash, bathing our little ones, working at our jobs, we can communicate with God. It doesn't have to be anything grand, but just a simple acknowledgement of His presence. "Thank you, Lord, for the beautiful sunrise as I drive to work"; "thank you, Lord, that I have the time to finish the dishes and take out the trash"; "wow, God, I'm tired of working on this spreadsheet - help me"; or "God, show me which task I should do first." When we acknowledge His presence, even in the small ways, we become very conscious that He is with us and that He hears us - He becomes real to us. When we come to Him like this, in the small ways, then we are training our brain to come to Him in everything and with anything. So, when the big things happen, our first response will be to talk to God. Think of it like a child who talks to their imaginary friend all day about every little thing they encounter. Only, our God isn't imaginary and He isn't helpless. He is very real and very ready to be our ever-present help.
I encourage you to try this small practice of talking with God throughout your day. Thank Him, tell Him how you feel, ask for His help and guidance in both the small and the big things. I guarantee you will begin to feel His presence and will realize that He has been with you all along - you just simply needed to stop and say hi.