A VERY PRESENT HELP
Over summer I had the blessing of looking after my granddaughter Olive for a few hours. I personally think she’s the best bubba in the world, but I suspect every other parent and grandparent may disagree. They’re wrong, of course, but I won’t argue the point. After a while she fell asleep in my arms. Isn’t it one of the most precious things to hold a sleeping baby or child? To feel their warmth and closeness, to hold them securely, to see the way they relax into you. I always loved slipping into our children’s bedrooms when they were sleeping. Sometimes I couldn’t help myself and I just had to take a photo. Too often I forgot about the automatic flash on my camera, and our poor children were woken from their slumber by a bright flash of light in their faces. Oops. I suspect they may still hold it against me.
I love this verse found in one of King David’s Psalms:
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
It’s a beautiful picture of a small child with his or her mother, secure, calm, quiet, safe, relaxed. It’s worth noting that it specifies a weaned child – the child is not there because they are seeking nourishment but quietly resting in their mother’s presence.
Have you noticed how often in Scripture God offers His presence as the answer to our fears or circumstances?
We see it when both Moses and Joshua were being called to lead the Israelites:
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” He said, “But I will be with you…”
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
In Psalm 46 the Sons of Korah record these words:
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.
This is not a promise that nothing will go wrong! But it reminds us that in the midst of our circumstances, our Lord is present to help us. Because of His presence with us, we need not fear.
Just before His ascension, Jesus’ final word are recorded in Matthew 28, commonly called “The Great Commission”. Jesus concludes His commissioning with the comfort of His presence always:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
When we think of the presence of God, there’s an important truth we must remember: God is always with us! His presence is everywhere.
Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
Our experience and awareness of God’s presence may vary, but He is always with us.
There are many helpful and easy practices we can do to increase our awareness of God’s presence in our life. Practises as simple as thankfulness, reflecting on Scripture (you could pop sticky notes on your mirror or car or cupboard), praying for people as we watch the news or as we go about our life, pausing regularly to intentionally focus on God, breath prayers. I heard someone – a fellow tea drinker – share that whenever she was making a cup of tea and waiting with the teabag in her cup, she would pray that God would infuse her with the Holy Spirit just like the tea leaves were infusing the water. Sometimes when I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed, I make myself walk s l o w l y – it’s to remind my spirit that God gives me enough time, strength and grace to do whatever He’s called me to do.
Brother Lawrence wrote a very well-known book “Practising the Presence of God”. He made a practise of being aware of the presence of God in the everyday tasks of his life – washing dishes and working in the monastery kitchen.
Sometimes we are so very aware of the Lord’s presence in our lives. Sometimes we get distracted, or busy, or caught up in life and find ourselves losing that awareness. Sometimes God “feels” a long way away (remember that He’s not, though!).
As someone who longs to be aware of God’s presence in all my life, from my waking moments to retiring at the end of the day, through the mundane tasks and the special occasions, I find these words of Brother Lawrence encouraging:
“As often as I could, I placed myself as a worshiper before him, fixing my mind upon his holy presence, recalling it when I found it wandering from him. This proved to be an exercise frequently painful, yet I persisted through all difficulties.”
My prayer is that you and I increase in our awareness of the faithfulness and constancy of our Lord’s presence in our lives, that we persist in our intentionality of practises to increase that awareness… and that we learn to relax into our Father’s arms and rest like a child with their mother, safe, secure and at peace.
Your Care Team Pastor,
Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.
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