We had a great Sunday Worship service at Seaford Baptist Church this morning.
The music was powerful, the preaching on John 15 was strong and tremendous, and the atmosphere was one of hope and joy.
Some would say that God showed up. In fact, someone did say that to me as I was slipping out of the sanctuary to go home.
I understood completely what they meant, and they were being so kind as to thank me for helping lead worship this morning. I truly appreciated their gracious words, but they also caused me to think.
What constitutes God “showing up”? Does He choose to show up at one church and not another on a particular Sunday? Why can we seriously sense His presence more some days than we do others?
And I’m not talking just about church….I’m also talking about our own spiritual life. Our prayer life. Our time we devote to Him.
We are taught that God is omnipresent-that He is everywhere. The Scriptures support this doctrine in many places. Here are just a few:
Psalm 139:7-10~Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
And we are told that God inhabits the praise of His people. So where is He sometimes? Why does He seem so absent at times?
I really don’t have an answer for these questions. I’ve asked people much smarter than me the answer to these questions, and they seem unable to pinpoint a logical, rational answer for them either.
But this is what I do know:
- Scripture does not lie; Scripture is truth. So if scripture testifies that God is omnipresent, then he is present even when we as humans can not “sense” His presence.
- There are times in my life—and I’m assuming in your life, too—when God is overwhelmingly silent. And while it still unsettles me, I am learning to not despair in those moments, but to try to exercise the very tiny amount of faith that I have and believe that He is still present with me in the dark aloneness.
- There are times that His silence may be meant to teach a church or an individual something. Maybe there is sin that is breaking the relationship between us and God–sin that needs repented of. Or maybe we are being asked to trust Him even in the wilderness of not sensing his presence.
- God does not forever abandon. Oh, there are times when I have been sure that He has abandoned me too, but that’s not the case. We are His children, He is our Father. He would never abandon His children. That’s a hard thing to learn if you are a child that grew up fatherless. Nonetheless, it is truth. His love for us is so great, that His desire is to have a close relationship to us.
I realize that this is probably the very least helpful post I’ve ever written, because I truly have no answers. I know that I sensed God’s presence this morning while worshipping and while studying John 15. I know that there are other Sundays that I walk away from church asking God “Where are you?” There are some mornings when I meet with Him early that His presence is nearly tangible. But there are other mornings when I go to meet with Him, and I can’t seem to find Him so instead I walk away unsettled.
Maybe you have had these experiences as well.
There is a passage that I learned when I was first being pursued by God to believe in Him. When I am very unsettled about his presence or non-presence, I often find myself clinging to these words. I’ll end my post with them, in hopes that you will find them settling as well. He is actually not far from each one of us.
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to liveon all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for