referencing The Lord is my Shepherd…
Psalm 23: 4 says “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…” (NIV)
In this series I have used the phrase, “the abiding presence of God” so many times that it has almost become a byword and a cliche. So what does the abiding presence of God really look like? What does it mean when we say that God is with us? How do we conceptualize the word ‘Emmanuel’? I recently heard a sermon that connected the dots for me and I’d like to share. Shout out to Pastor Kirk Cowman.
In the previous lesson we encounter David in Gath running away from King Saul right into the hands of his enemies, the relatives of Goliath. He was literally in the valley of the shadow of death (Gath is in a valley!) and this is what he says:
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? Psalm 56:3-4 NIV
David’s trust is anchored in the fact that God is with him always. He is cognizant of the abiding presence of God and he goes on to say:
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56: 8 NLT
This is a perfect illustration of God’s presence with us always. Do you know how attentive a person has to be to keep track of every time you are sad or sorrowful? Even my husband does not know of every time I am sad or sorrowful and we spend a lot of time together. Oh and do you know how close in proximity a person will have to be to you to catch your tears in a bottle? This is who God is to us. He is so close and always present. Whether it is on a mountain high or in the valleys low He promises to be there. He will never leave us neither forsake us. The psalmist describes this phenomenon like so:
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you. Psalm 139:7-12 NIV
We’ve heard countless times that God is with us. This week, my challenge to you and to myself is to practice the presence of God. What I mean by practicing the presence of God is to be fully aware, to fully embrace the notion that God is with us every second; of every minute; of every hour; of every day; day after day after day. He is always there. Through our highs and through our lows… through the sun and through the rain…. He is there. When we are happy and especially when we are sad, He is there… ready with his bottle to collect and record every tear drop. Practicing presence means internalizing and having a consciousness of the fact that God is with us. Practicing presence means living our lives with that assurance that God is with us and so “What can mere mortals do to us?” Practicing presence also means that we are intentional in living godly lives because we know that if God is really that close enough to catch our falling tears, then He is close enough to see all those secret sins.
My prayer is that today you experience the glory of God’s presence all around you and within you and be intentional in living out your faith!