I love God's Presence
As a follower of Jesus, Pastor, and worship leader I’ve noticed myself talking, preaching, and singing a lot about loving God’s presence and being in God’s presence. I think the intention and heart is awesome but the implications and thinking can be dangerous, causing me to miss out on what God has for me.
In short what I mean is that God may not be as interested in us getting into His presence as much as He is interested in getting His presence into us. It’s a theme throughout the whole of Scripture. There is this forward progression throughout Bible of God doing everything He can to get closer and closer. It started with walking with God in a garden, then moved to traveling with God in a tent, then to meeting with God in a temple, then to God meeting with us in flesh in Jesus. But even when we thought it could not get better and that God could not get closer, Jesus said that it was better that His followers didn’t have His physical body meeting them but rather has His indwelling presence: His Spirit in them and with them (Jn 16).
A woman once talked to Jesus about meeting with God in special, physical places. They talked about where the best place was to get in God’s presence. Jesus responded to her saying that the time has come when worshiping at this or that place won’t be the priority but worshiping in spirit will be (Jn 4). This conversation seems pretty similar to the way we talk about loving being in God’s presence.
Typically when i hear talk about loving God’s presence, people are alluding to worship songs and services. I say things like “Don’t you just love God’s presence? Don’t you want God’s presence? You can sense God’s presence here.” We get it a lot from the Psalms where David cries out for, pants for, longs for, and loves God’s presence (i.e. Ps. 42, 73, 84). But David, and the other writers of the Old Testament, in all of the intimacy that they had with God still longed for what God has given to His people now (Joel 2, Isa 44, Ez 37). God has given something so much better than needing to get into His presence.
My love for being in God’s presence can and has created a need to “get into God’s presence” in physical spaces and moments (which can be good). But the distortion of that love for God’s presence is that I completely miss the fact that God has done everything to get His presence into me already. I say “I love being in God’s presence” yet neglect His presence in me for most hours of the day. Doesn’t that seem like a contradiction? Even worse than a contradiction it’s a bad trade. Why live needing to go somewhere to get something you has already been given? I’ve watched it time and time again where I and people I care about feel a need to go to a place, or a song, or a moment and forget that I already have a Person who has come into me.
Please know me well enough to understand my heart. I love singing worship songs and participating in Church gatherings. There is a unique sense of God’s presence that happens only when His people gather together. My life has been changed because of it. I’m all for that. I’m all about that. I won’t stop being a part of that and helping others do the same. My point here is that I have seen in my own life a subtle, dangerous belief that causes me to miss out on what God has for me. The Bible tells a story of God getting closer and His presence getting nearer. How much more could we want?
What hasn’t God done to get His presence into us? What hasn’t He given? How else could He say lI love you and want to be close to you and want to never leave you”?What if we took seriously the fact that God is closer than a building, better than a song, and more special than a service? What if we really believed that right now we have His attention and He is closer than we can imagine? God is interested in us getting into His presence, but what if God is even more interested in getting His presence into us?
I love being in God’s presence, but I love God’s presence being in me even more.
-Christian Dawson, Campus Pastor