Practicing the Presence of God–2.1

Last week, I began a series related to practicing the presence of God. You can read the first post here.  I finished the post with a promise to visit the life of Moses for some insight into practicing God’s presence.

If you visited Exodus 34, you find a story of Moses entering into the presence of the God to receive the Ten Commandments. As a result of that one encounter, his face literally shone. We’re not talking a “pregnancy glow” here.  This glow was so intense, Moses was required to wear a veil because his face had some shine! The people surrounding Moses acknowledged the authority of his message because they could see proof (from Moses’ shiny face) that he had been with God.

The Fading Glow

What you may not remember from the story is that Moses eventually lost his glow. He no longer needed a veil.  However, Moses continued to wear it.  He wore the veil, not because the glow was so intense, but so the Israelites wouldn’t know the radiance was gone.

What about you?

Are you like Moses? Maybe you haven’t lost a literal glow. Yet, the time in your life when God’s presence was evident and real is a distant memory.  Your shiny countenance has dulled.  Do you still wear the veil, so to speak, to disguise the fact that God’s presence isn’t as real as it once was?
Was God once very real to you, but now you find yourself just going through the motions?

Are you outwardly saying, “Yes, Jesus is real and precious to me” while inwardly you are hiding a yearning for a real encounter with God?

Been there.  Done that. I’ve sat with my Bible wondering why I wasn’t getting anything out of it? I’ve stood during a worship service singing the words but feeling disconnected from God.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t have to pretend. You can experience God’s presence in a real way.

Step 1: Get Determined

Encountering God and His presence in a real, regular way in your life won’t happen by accident. If you want to experience God’s presence as part of your daily life, you must set you mind and heart on that goal.

Look at this exchange between God and Moses in Exodus 33.

God:

“Now go. Get on your way from here, you and the people you brought up from the land of Egypt. Head for the land which I promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I will send an angel ahead of you and I’ll drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. It’s a land flowing with milk and honey. But I won’t be with you in person—you’re such a stubborn, hard-headed people!—lest I destroy you on the journey.” (The Message)

God is fulfilling the promise He made to Moses and the Israelites regarding the Promised Land. God is basically saying, “Moses, I’ve promised you the land. You’re going to get the land and I’m going to send a mighty angel to go before you to drive these Canaanites out. But I’m not going to go with you. I’ll give you victory, success, and the land. But you won’t have My presence.”

Can you imagine? What if God told you, “Sure you can go—but I’m not going with you.” How would you respond?

In the story, Scripture tells us the people mourned. They were heartbroken because God refused to journey with them to the Promised Land. The New Living Translations puts it this way:

“When the people heard these stern words, they went into mourning and stopped wearing their jewelry and fine clothes.” —Exodus 33:4

What a picture. The people so longed for the presence of God, they put away their good clothes and fancy jewelry and mourned.

They took seriously the presence of God.  The Israelites were visibly despaired about the loss of God’s Presence.

Putting this scenario into an American-church context seems strange.

Most American Christians are comfortable knowing God is there when we need Him, but are satisfied to ignore His presence when we feel we can handle things on our own.

Moses and the Israelites weren’t satisfied with just an angel to go with them to the Promised Land.

Moses said:

“If your presence doesn’t take the lead here, call this trip off right now.” Exodus 33:15

Moses wasn’t willing to settle for the next thing, the next day or the next hour without the Presence of God.

As believers, we must develop a holy discontent for lives lacking the presence of God.

God is omnipresent which means He is absolutely present in your life at every moment. However, the Holy Spirit can be all around, even inside you without making a real difference in your life or the way you live if you don’t recognize His presence.

For too many church-goers, we take on our marriage, parenting, and our jobs without acknowledging our utter need and desire for God’s presence in the center of these endeavors. We experience life unfulfilled because we are not determined to share it with God. We know He is there, we simply don’t invite Him as the main guest at our party.

A Big Move

My husband, Jared and I moved from Texas to Alabama when I was seven months pregnant with our first child. We had both lived in Texas our entire lives and unless you live under a rock, Texas is kind of a big deal. Well, at least Texans think Texas is a big deal. We couldn’t imagine there was anywhere else to live.

In Texas, we lived about an hour from both sets of our parents. We were serving in a church we loved, with friends and a life we enjoyed. We were settled and yet, God was opening a door for us to go to Alabama. To say we were nervous or scared would be an understatement. I remember praying similar words as Moses. “God, if you aren’t in this, show us. Don’t send us if you aren’t going with us. I don’t want to go if You’re not there.”

Without an awareness of the presence of Jesus, you’re missing out.

Adrian Rogers put it this way,

“What good is the victory without the Victor? What good is the blessing without the Blesser? What good is the gift without the Giver?”

As believers, many of us sincerely talk about our gratitude for eternal life, for heaven, for God’s love. We’re grateful for the fruits of God without experiencing God Himself.

Can I beg you not to do that? Get determined. Grab God by the collar (so to speak) and say:

“I’m not fighting cancer without your presence, Lord.”
“I’m not going to raise these kids without your presence, Lord.”
“I’m not going to start this new job without your presence, Lord.”
“I’m not going to fight for this marriage without your presence, Lord.”
“I’m not going to deal with an empty nest without your presence, Lord.”
“I’m not going to learn to be on my own without your presence, Lord.”
“I”m not going to _________________ without your presence, Lord.”

“We need our God; He is to be had for the seeking; and He will not deny Himself to any one of us if we personally seek His face.”–Charles Spurgeon

If we want the conscious presence of God in our lives, it requires determination.

Talk to God:

“God, I will not take Your blessings without You. I don’t want any angel. I need You. I’m not going anywhere without You.”

In next week’s post, we’ll look at the second step we see from Moses regarding practicing God’s presence.

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