Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Are You There, God

Bob Rakestraw

Sometimes people wonder if God is really “there.” They know he exists, but they would like to feel and experience God’s presence. They know their hope is based on facts, not feelings, but they still would like to sense the presence of God sometimes.

I have no infallible answer, but there are four things I do regularly (daily) that help me a lot in this area. They may help you.

1. I read and/or meditate a lot in the scriptures—not so much quantitatively as qualitatively. I chew on my favorite texts over and over, memorizing them and repeating them often. I underline a lot in my Bible. One of my favorite all-time verses is James 4:8—“come near to God and he will come near to you." God wants us to take the initiative; sometimes it's just a few words to him and he comes near.

2. I say "Thank You" to God several times a day—maybe 6-10 times a day. I mostly thank him for the eternal realities in my life, such as forgiveness of my sins of commission, omission, and disposition; genuine peace and hope, for today, tomorrow, and the whole future (based on the verifiable fact that God has never let me down one day in my life); as well as the daily, material and spiritual blessings I experience—relationships with family, people in my church community, money to buy food and pay the bills.

3. I visualize Jesus standing right in front of me or next to me. Somehow I never picture him sitting, but daily I make the effort (it takes very little once this becomes a habit, which is true of the other items mentioned) to look at the space in front of me and say, "Thank you Lord for being here," or something like that. I do it with my eyes open, in faith, and Jesus always shows up. Somehow I believe he is actually there, looking serious but not stern, and sometimes with a slight smile. But I don't so much think of specific facial features, but just the outline of his form being there, visible in my mind but not my eyes. This is very real.

4. I confess sin throughout the day, as I need to, as soon as I become aware of the fact that I am grieving the Lord in some way—thought, word, or deed. I do this, not to stay saved, to be saved, or to avoid God's wrath, but because I have displeased my best friend, and I want to get back in fellowship with him. I especially rest on the truth of 1 John 1 (the last few verses) and 2 (the first couple of verses).

Well, these are my habits. I trust that each of you will know God personally as well as cognitively.


Amy said...

Thank you for your encouragement, Bob. My prayer for you, is that God will sustain and encourage you, as you seek to glorify Him and serve Him daily. You are an example to me. I have been meditating of late, on Hebrews where we are reminded of people of faith, who were still living by faith when they died, only having seen (through hope) what was promised, from a great distance.

Your habit of thanking God daily, reminds me of Hebrews 12:28 "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably, with reverence and awe..."

PeaceLady said...

Thanks for posting these thoughts, they are very helpful.