4 ways to zero in on God’s presence when you can’t seem to find it
I never imagined it would have been so many months since I sat down to write. I identify as a writer and so not writing seems strange. It’s not for lack of material that I haven’t written. The happenings in our culture throughout the last year has provided plenty to comment on but the happenings in the last year with increased demands with my job on top of parental demands with virtual schooling and I found myself short on margin. So, something had to go and it happened to be writing.
As some of you know, my family and I made an enormous move just over a year ago and precisely 6 weeks before life as we all knew it came to a screeching halt. So at the same time, we were starting new schools, new jobs and still waiting to move into our new home, we were thrust (along with everyone else) into the shocking reality of unprecedented times.
Through this season, we have all done unexpected, hard things we never signed up for. I have had my share of days when I’ve been stretched farther than I knew I could stretch and days when God felt distant. I had to hunt to find God in the middle of a world I no longer recognize.
Thankfully, Scripture talks about hunting for God—seeking after Him. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” But hunting for God can seem overwhelming at times. How do I find God when my heart and mind are pulled so many directions?
So, how do you zero in on God’s presence when you can’t seem to find it?
–Put the rocks in first. There is an old object lesson that displays a glass jar filled with large rocks and sand. If you dump it all out and try to put it back in the jar, it will only fit if you put the big rocks in first. If you put the sand in first, you’ll never fit the rocks.
The same is true with your relationship with God. You HAVE TO start with God and you have to make Him a priority DAILY. Everyday is a new news story, an unexpected personal crisis or some new dividing point in our culture. It screams for our attention and usually receives it. If you haven’t stopped to hear from God and remind yourself of how He works or moves, you won’t have a trained eye to see it through God’s vantage point or a heart tuned to hear His voice in the midst of clamoring distractions.
Putting God first may sound like a broken record (even white noise) and that’s because people who have truly experienced God’s peace and freedom beat this drum over and over again. Not because they are better or godlier but because they feel like they fell into a secret they can’t help but share. If you don’t start with the discipline of meeting with God, you will only ever process what’s happening around you through a fleshly worldly perspective.
–Talk WITH not AT God. When we do actually discipline ourselves to sit with God, open HIs word and make that relationship a priority, it is often the temptation to talk at God instead of with God. Don’t misunderstand, telling God what’s going on, how you feel and pouring out your heart to Him is exactly what you should do. It just isn’t ALL you should do. When you pour out your heart to God, let Him pour back into you. As you open His Word, recognize you are meeting with a living, breathing person not some old book. He speaks through His word. When you read the Bible, try doing things like reading the passage aloud. You’ll be able to actually HEAR the words spoken. Sure, it’s may be your own voice (and you probably don’t sound like God) but its God’s Word being spoken into you. And it’s okay to read it a second and third time. You’re not just checking off the ‘meet with God’ box, you’re meeting with a person and He wants to speak in your daily life by revealing His character and presence to you through His Word and the Holy Spirit that lives inside you.
–Ask God to open your eyes to see Him. One of my favorite passages about God opening someone’s spiritual eyes is in 2 Kings 6, when Elisha’s servant discovers the city is surrounded by horses and chariots poised to attack.
The servant approached Elisha and asked, “‘Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” (verse 15)
“‘Don’t be afraid,’ the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (verse 16)
I love that verse because Elisha was aware of something the servant couldn’t see.
Check out this next part…
“And Elisa prayed, ‘Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servants eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (verse 17)
At the request of Elisha, God opened the spiritual eyes of the servant.
You don’t have to be a Bible hero for God to open your eyes!!!
He can do that for you what He did for Elisha and his servant but we don’t usually even think to ask Him to open our spiritual eyes. He may not reveal every details of what He’s doing but usually we don’t need or even want every detail.
When we begin to recognize God is still very present and active the middle of what looks like a spiritually barren environment, there is peace and confidence because of an awareness of God’s presence.
–Write it down. If God reveals His presence to you, WRITE IT DOWN.
For Pete’s sake, keep record of what God is showing you.
To treat the revelation of God’s presence flippantly suggests you think you are uniquely spared from the human condition of forgetfulness.
No matter how many times God reveals Himself through the beauty of creation, His Holy Word or a divinely appointed conversation, we still forget. Tomorrow or next week or whenever the next unexpected crisis occurs, you will either remember the faithfulness of God’s presence and provision or you will panic because you forgot.
If God shows you something in His Word, write it down.
If God reveals Himself to you through godly counsel, write it down.
If God opens your spiritual eyes to see His presence around you, write it down.
It will be easy to go about your day and not make time to write down what God shows you but the discipline of recording God’s revelations trains your heart to become increasingly aware of the next one.
God isn’t hiding from you but you may not have eyes to see Him. He wants to reveal His character and His presence to you but He wants us to be as eager to see Him as He is to be seen.
Seeking after God has come with a heightened awareness of His presence. God has shown me where He went ahead of me long before COVID was a nauseatingly familiar term and its reality infiltrated every crevice of my life.
There is something comforting in the knowledge of God presence through out the last year but with refreshed eyes, I’m learning to see how He is going before me RIGHT NOW for things to come I don’t even know about yet.
An awareness and trust in God’s presence and provision in my future has offered me such a sweet peace and freedom during what is undeniably uncertain times.
BUT LISTEN, I am not going to pretend the realities of the division, hatred and in some cases, nonsense around me hasn’t struck me with fear and anxiety about the future. The peace I experience is not because of blinders I wear or because I live in some Pollyanna alternate reality. I experience the tensions of others because of their anxiety, I question myself as a parent, a wife, a minister and a friend. The peace and freedom comes only from God revealing Himself to me and trained focus on the character of God.
And please don’t think I’m claiming arrival on some spiritual summit. I haven’t arrived spiritually. It is a daily struggle to refocus my attention on God and not the brokenness around me. But God in His kindness continues to shape me and teach me more about abiding in His presence and accessing the power of His Spirit who lives inside me.
Question: How has God revealed Himself to you lately? How did it make you feel? What did you do when God you became aware of God’s presence