Practicing the Presence of God presents us with a couple of problems.
First of all, by nature we tend to trust our senses and not our faith. We easily forget what we cannot see or feel or hear. We even have a saying, “Out of sight, out of mind.”
Secondly, we face multiple distractions. These can be good things, like a wonderful poem, a marvelous piece of music, a brilliant blog , or just the busy-ness of doing our job or caring for our family. These distractions can also be bad things, temptations to do what we know to be wrong, but what looks like a short-cut to what will please us or make us more comfortable.
Thirdly, we are so small in our thinking, it is hard for us to get our minds around the existence of God as He really is, and we must make substitutions in our thinking to accommodate our limited understanding.
Keep in mind Whose Presence we are practicing. The God Who Is There is more than our tiny brains can process. His nature is clearly presented in the Bible as being Three-In-One, what we call a “triune being”, a term we invented because we cannot understand how one being can exist in three persons. Yet one would have to ask, “If I can understand all there is to know of the nature of God, is this really God?” You see, He has revealed to us enough of what we can understand to show us that we cannot ever fully grasp His complete nature.
He was and is eternally Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the One true God and Creator of all things. Jesus did not become the Son of God when Mary gave birth to the infant boy, but rather the eternal Son of God simply took on human form, personality and limitations in order to fully identify with His creation. Think of a painter being able to go into his painting to fully experience what he has painted, and though a poor and limited illustration, this may help us grasp the idea of God becoming man. Also, we should note here that God is a spirit, not a physical being. So the idea that God had sexual relations with Mary in order to impregnate her is absurd. Rather with the same creative ability He had when He formed man, He created in Mary a body for the Son using her DNA and His spirit, just as He used the dust and His breath to make the first Adam.
So how do we get around these problems in Practicing The Presence of God? The following ideas are not set in stone, but rather suggestions for you if you are having difficulty seeing that God is always with you.
First is to use a holy imagination. As I mentioned last week, just because we are using imagination does not mean He is not really there. But this is an exercise of our faith. However, there is a caution here: our imaginations can imagine things that are not of God. A holy imagination is one informed by the Bible as to the nature, character and behavior of The God Who Is There. You may be able to imagine God is telling you to rob a bank to pay your bills, but that will be only your imagination, and not God at all!
After exploring some of the Bible’s teaching about what God is like, then, imagine Him leaning in close to your ear and whispering into your life how you should behave, what your response to the things around you should be. Pretend you are in the company of a King (you are!!) and behave as you would with Him at your elbow. Some have found adding an empty chair at dinner reminds them of His presence at the meal. Remind yourself by any creative way you desire of His presence all day long. He IS there, even though you may not realize it.
Second is to get past the distractions of life. As noted last week, I do not advocate that we all become monks in monasteries. Rather, incorporate our unseen Guest in our activities. When you select a television program, consider asking Him to watch it with you (He will anyway!) It is necessary to give attention to tasks we must perform, but whenever possible, simply include Him in the task. Consider if a Royal was beside you, how would you approach this task? Would you be so quick to get angry at that other driver? Would you take that next scoop of ice cream? Would you ask for His opinion on your plans? Would you do them differently if He was there? The fact is, HE IS! As Steve Elliott said, “Act as if He is really there, and you will find He IS!”
Third is the issue of what we imagine Him to be. As noted, we cannot grasp everything about God that He has revealed about Himself, and He understands our limitations. So there may be times you need to see a God who hangs stars in the universe, but at other times you may need to see a Brother who lovingly feeds a hungry baby. You may need to see a God who can move mountains, a Mighty Warrior who can defend against an evil enemy, or you may need a gentle Spirit able to see through walls or into the cells of a body that needs healing. Because our little brains cannot imagine all these things about God at once does not mean He is less than He is. He is all of these and much more, but we can only imagine part of His divine majesty at any one time.
Enjoy His company. He came a long way to enjoy yours. He gave Himself to unspeakable torture and death on a cross so that He could be part of your life. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only and unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in Him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed.” (John 3:16, CJB)
Now, if you do not already, start Practicing the Practice of The Presence.