I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about the practice of the Presence of God. Or about Practicing the Presence of God, or practicing being in the Presence of God, whichever statement makes most sense to you!
One of the things we humans do really well is organise things into neat little boxes. Well, actually, most of the time, my boxes aren’t actually all that neat, they tend to spill into one another! We have a tendency to like to compartmentalise our lives, and I have noticed that collectively, in the west, we are often more integrated about our eating and exercise regimes than we are about the things that we declare are our core beliefs.
At the end of all things I personally would prefer to be written up as a Francis of Assisi or Joan of Arc than a millennial.
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
“Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” Acts 17:24-31 (NIV)
When Paul was saying these things, he was speaking to a pile of people who spent most of their time thinking, debating thoughts and ideas about life, the universe and everything together and living in such a way that what they said was not necessarily reflected in the way they lived. These are not words to a Christian audience, but to the philosophising audience of the Greek Areopagus, the great brains of the day. The key to that culture was to have your brain right. If you thought and spoke the right things, then what you did at home was of little consequence, it didn’t really have to match what came out of your mouth.
I gather with a small group of people who meet together to pray and worship and seek the Face of God. There’s nowhere to get away from intimately practicing the presence of God in my daily life. If my relationship with God is not “on point” (to borrow a term about eyebrows, and ballet…) everyone in the room who knows me, knows it. It impacts the worship, the prayer, everything. My piece is missing. I cheat myself, our Father and other people by being absent in the fullness of the relationship that Jesus desires for us to be in. I have not yet experienced this in a congregational structure. I think for some congregational church structures, if I bring the fullness of my relationship with Jesus, it could be a negative or confronting thing.
Jesus was very clear about how He saw the world working in its fullness. It is documented very clearly for us to read and take to heart. He speaks very directly about the consequences of choosing a relationship with Him above all other things, and what choosing to strengthen that relationship will mean in our daily lives. Ultimately, it means that all of who God is, becomes available to us, in us and through us.
“…seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 (NIV)
I love integration. I love that even when I am in my local woollies, not doing any particularly obviously God-looking thing, that I can intentionally carry Him and my relationship with Him into the aisles and every interaction with every person, whether it’s just walking past, or doing the “Oops, let’s both pass each other on the left!” trolley dance, or talking with the cashier at the checkout; all of these are deliberate Holy Spirit filled interactions. One day there might be an opportunity to take them further. Who knows what is on the Mind of God.
My deepest desire is that He is Known, and not Unknown.
If we are on the Narrow Way, if we are lovers of Jesus, then we are filled with His glorious light…
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 (NIV)
…and it only remains for us to deepen and strengthen our relationship with Him. Who we are then, because of Who He Is, draws people to us. Well, to Him in us, we get to enjoy and be amazed by the conversations and interactions.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” Isaiah 60:1-3 (NIV)
It’s not just people either. We have been given responsibility for the whole of creation, so your piece is waiting for you to be Known by God in this way, for Him to Know you and for you to Know Him.
God Bless You Very Much