1 John 4:18 NLT
'Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.'
The purpose in prayer is, as one writer succinctly describes it, “Being present with the presence.” Often our humanity associates presence with feelings. Yet feelings are emotional states of response. My approach to God will prove different when feeling content and secure to when I have a raging toothache. Often we make judgements about church worship, even whole church congregational gatherings, simply upon the feelings they induce. Nothing wrong with feelings per se, but be warned, they are an untrustworthy measure of reality. As Jeremiah reminds us, “The heart is deceitful above all things” (17:9a, NIV).
Presence is the truth and reality that God is with us always. The question is, will I rest in that reality, no matter my feelings, with an undistracted mind? To acknowledge the reality of God and his presence, despite my ever-changing circumstances, is to stand in the presence of God. It is no diversionary tactic, for the realities of such circumstances don’t change. What changes is the way in which I choose to frame them. I can frame them with the fears or pleasures they induce. Or I can perceive the presence of God and frame circumstance the Godward side of my experience.
As my first wife, Katey, battled with MS, we managed our own journeys from different perspectives. Katey experienced the loss of physical and mental ability that accompanied progressive MS. I fought anger, resentment, God’s apparent abandonment, the God who I’d served faithfully. Consequently, we proved a handful to others, most of whom, understandably, took a large step back from us. Like Jacob, we wrestled long through the darkness of our night. Only as dawn peeped above the horizon, the dawning recognition of God’s presence in the bleakest of contexts, did we begin to touch God’s presence. God was not some external, impotent fraud outside and unable to intervene within our situation. God had always been accompanying us within this, the bleakest experience of our life to date.
QUESTION: What helps you discern God’s presence in your life?
PRAYER: Lord God, thank you that in Christ you have promised never to leave us nor forsake us.