There is much talk in our day about ‘the presence of God’, and we do hear of those times when the Lord’s presence is overwhelming. We read of such an occasion in 2 Chronicles 7 vs 1-3 when Solomon dedicated His temple and the glory of the Lord filled the house so that the priests couldn’t stand. Quite often we hear people say that they ‘felt‘ the presence of the Lord in a time of worship, and sometimes there are manifestations of His presence which the Lord graciously gives.
While we look for those times, we must not overlook the wonderful truth that the Lord is actually present with us all the time. I guess the clue is in the name. Emmanuel, God is with us. And should that not be enough, one of the names of God is Jehovah Shammah, the Lord is there. Ezekiel 48 vs 30-35.
The truth is that while there are those wonderful moments in worship when some say they experience the Lords’ presence, for a lot of us, it is in our everyday lives that we need to ‘know’ He is there. We can’t always rely on our feelings. A quick illustration is needed here about faith, facts, and feelings.
If you can imagine them walking along a wall.
FEELINGS>>>>>> FAITH >>>>>>>>FACTS
All goes well as long as FAITH follows FACTS, but if FAITH looks behind and tries to follow FEELINGS FAITH will fall off the wall. Many of us get discouraged and lose faith that God is present with us, by our lack of feelings. The simple truth is our feelings actually follow the facts that we are acting on. Perhaps that is why we sometimes ‘feel’ the presence of the Lord more in a time of worship, because we are spending time focusing on and ‘declaring’ the facts, our praise and worship comes out of our faith and feelings follow..
The writer to the Hebrews tells us in chapter 13 vs 5 that God Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you’, that is a very strong triple negative, I will never, never , never forsake you. This is a ‘fact’ we can step out on. I believe that in our ordinary everyday lives as we reckon on the fact that the Lord is present by His Spirit we will begin to discern His presence as we turn to Him in faith and thanksgiving in the moment.
It doesn’t have to be a long worship service, nor do we have to ‘wait’ until we ‘feel’ Him near. Even in the dedication of Solomons’ temple the song was very simple ‘they worshipped and gave thanks to the Lord saying “He is good and His mercy (loving kindness) endures forever.”
As we turn our hearts to the Lord by simply thanking Him that He is with us, and that He is good, whatever the situation, work, rest or play, we will become aware of Him, His help, His guidance, His laughter, His travelling with us through the day. As we ‘practice His presence’ in this way, we will begin to discern more and more clearly what He is saying to us and doing for us.
David puts it beautifully in psalm 16 vs 7-11. He chooses the Lord and says “I have ‘set’ the Lord before me”. He chooses to acknowledge God’s presence before all else. And then discovers that there is guidance vs 11 and ‘fullness of joy” and “pleasures for ever more”. His feelings follow his faith,
I don’t think anything gives us more pleasure than knowing- like Lucy in Narnia that ‘Aslan is here’- that the Lord is present and working with and for us in our everyday life. And it’s all just a ‘thank you’ away.