This Week We Ponder the Presence of God and How to Open Up to God through His Word
What a magnificent close up of a Dandelion. In ordinary life, Dandelions when in season can seem so commonplace we don't really notice them. But this image above captures the power of a careful and close look. It is a stunning picture of intricate beauty.
Could experiencing God be likewise? You need to draw up close to discover how magnificent He really is?
"Come near to God and he will come near to you..." says the apostle James (James 4:8). Who doesn't want to be close to the Living God? If He is Creator of all reality, and has drawn up close to us in the man Jesus Christ, then LET'S GO!
Wisdom from David
David wrote beautifully, from experience and wisdom gained in life under Heaven:
"Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you."
God, it appears, is here. Present to His world. Present to You and I. Present WITH us and FOR us. So before we ask how to be present to God, we can be assured, biblically speaking, that He is already present to us. He has been, and is. By nature.
In short, God is here to be drawn close to.
So what do I do?
Work out what helps You become aware of Him, and make time to regularly practice this awareness. This is not all we can do, or are called to in the scriptures, but awareness is the first step in drawing near to anyone.
Think about it; how many times have you seen a couple or family at dinner out in public, sitting next to each other but not aware of each other because they are all instead on their phones? It is, in my opinion, a very sad picture to take in, and a little too common for my liking. But this is nearness without awareness.
David tells us God is here. But we need to be aware. We need to put the phone down and look directly at Him. Look at Him through...
Opening up to God of His Words
Jesus teaches us:
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." (Mt 5:8)
And lest we fret about what it takes to become pure of heart, He made a crucial statement in response to His disciples, particularly Peter, misunderstanding His teaching and example at His last supper with them before His death upon the Cross for all human sin. He taught that purity of heart is not a ritual of washing with water, but a practice of receiving His very words into our heart of hearts:
You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. (Jn 15:3)
So you and I can become aware of Jesus with us through the words He speaks to us (read, every verse of the Scriptures).
Yes, but still...HOW?
Ok, ok. Here is how I practice (increasingly, I might add) opening up to God through His words:
I choose a calm, quiet, and uninterrupted space & time (as best I can). Earphones simulate this when this is near impossible for me.
I choose to calm and quiet myself as best I can. And to help me do this, I choose a portion of scripture that I feel God is drawing me to through my regular scripture reading habit, or that God has pointed me to through other means (sermons, encouragements from others, reading, etc.).
With this portion of scripture, I simply attend to it as closely as I need to. Sometimes it's word by word. Sometimes phrase by phrase. Sometimes line by line. Sometimes even thought by thought. Believing as I do that the Scripture is God breathed (2 Timothy 3:16) and therefore living and active (Hebrews 4:12), I allow whatever gets my attention (word, phrase, line, etc.) to capture and keep my attention.
I then slowly (rushing things doesn't help you attend to God through His words just like rushing through a meal doesn't help you attend to Your loved one/s) allow these kinds of reflections to rise:
What this word/phrase/line/etc. tells me about God?
What this word/phrase/line/etc. tells me about me?
What this word/phrase/line/etc. tells me about the world?
Like Andrew noted well last week, I journal these thoughts in prayerful arrangement (addressing God personally through my journaling).
Without too long passing, I find myself in the Presence of God, and hearing His Spirit bring fresh wisdom, counsel, encouragement, and challenge to me.
This is my process of opening up to God through His words. As I say, there is more to drawing near to God than this practice, but not less. I share my process in order to inspire you in your own ways. This is certainly not THE way to open up to God. Just MY way, expressed to help you any way it can.
God is near and willing to hear and help us. This much is clear, if we take promises like 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 seriously. It is simply true that in our modern secular world, drawing near to Him is a fight - but one worth winning by His grace and power at work within our efforts.
Drawing near to the living God with You this week.
Written by Ps. Rob