What Does It Mean to Be in the Presence of God?

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Christians have this weird language. Some of it is birthed out of tradition and culture but some of the words we use are actually found in the Bible. Those, especially those require interpretation. Many people (including ourselves) have no idea what we are talking about when we say certain words or phrases and it’s important for us to know what we mean so we can mean what we say.

Recently, a dear friend asked me to explain what it means to be “in the presence of God.” She knew the answer but was asked by a new believer and wanted to process how to explain it. I was so thankful to have been asked. Because although it’s something I talk about and pray about, it’s been a while since I’ve actually sat down to think about it means.

Immediately Psalm 139 came to mind. King David speaks about the presence of God being inescapable. He is everywhere at all times. Not only is he in every physical space, he is in our thoughts and knows them from a place that transcends space and time, before a word is even on our tongues.

In my words, this presence of God is when we are awakened to the reality of Jesus in our lives.

It could be a sweet awakening or a swift smack upside the head that begins with some sort of crisis. Regardless of how, the presence of God awakens us to something bigger than ourselves and leaves us longing for that bigger thing. A longing that is Jesus and a longing he desires to meet with himself.

It is awareness of grace and mercy. It is found in the love of a friend, the forgiveness offered to us, or the unexplained forgiveness we have to offer those who have hurt us.

It is peace. At times an unexplainable peace that makes no sense considering the situation we find ourselves in.

The presence of God can also explained in John 4 with the conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well. As the conversation progresses Jesus reveals himself to her.

Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” (John 4:26)

The presence of God reveals the person of Jesus as God and man, meanwhile revealing who we are without him and who we are meant to be with him.

We are often aware of it in the company of others which is why we are encouraged to gather together. It is sensed in the awe of his creation when you drive into places like the valley floor of Yosemite or the central coast of California, or surf the big waves of Hawaii. Yet we can become acutely aware of it in the silence of our loneliness, on our knees or in the darkest hours of the night.

Yes, the presence of God is being awakened to all of this. The reality that Jesus lives, breathes life and moves among us. Not just one time, one Sunday morning, one tearful night, but anytime you suddenly know that He is here and in the depths of your soul you know can no longer ignore Him.

Our journey of understanding, like so much our faith, grows deeper as we walk forward together. I would like to learn from you…How would you explain it?

Trust

Pregnancy is an extraordinary experience.

A person, growing and developing while hidden in the comfortable security of a mother’s womb. 40 weeks of waiting, preparing and dreaming of what will be. I’ve had three mostly uneventful pregnancies, with the exception of a preterm labor with my first and the cord being wrapped around the neck of my second at delivery. Otherwise, I’ve had no reason to worry or be concerned.

This time, I’m a bit older and the odds are supposedly stacked against me and this baby. I’ve been given odds that are not favorable in terms of having a baby with genetic abnormalities. About once a week, I get a call from the genetic counselors asking me if I’d like to come in for more counseling, or if I’ve decided to do any invasive testing.

It won’t make a difference.

This baby is ours and God decided we should have it, not us. Nothing they could say to me would convince me otherwise. I’m well read from books to blogs and community boards on BabyCenter.com, I am familiar with the prognosis, the false positives, the testing available and how to prepare for the “worst.” And in the end, things could turn out just fine.

It’s tempting to go in for the amnio and I’m not opposed to it either. Yet for some reason, I have a sense that God is using this to tell me, this is where the rubber meets the road.

An opportunity to practice my one word for the year, peace.

Do I believe what I teach? Am I convinced of what I know?

Will I trust Him for not just the outcome, but the process as well?

My favorite passage in the Bible, Psalm 139, promises each person, knitted together in the womb of their mother is “fearfully and wonderfully made.” There is no caveat for children born with disabilities or a lower apgar score. It does not give higher value to those who are born “perfect.”

Fearfully and wonderfully made.

So I continue to imperfectly put my trust and hope in the One who made this child in the secret place and is weaving together the person our family needs. His {or her} frame is not hidden from Him who already loves this baby way more than I ever will.

And that, my friends, is a whole lot.

“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.”