Embracing God’s Presence
Reflecting on Jesus’ death and resurrection is a very healthy annual exercise. In graphic relief, God tells us that we matter to Him, that He doesn’t give up on us and that He has done all that is possible to allow us to be with Him. The perfect One, completely pure and separate from anything evil, made provision for us with all of our imperfection and evil inclinations. Thanks to our musicians, actors and actresses and technical team we have a very creative and fresh reminder to ponder.
Unfortunately, even with this recent reminder, we don’t all embrace His offer to live in His presence. Even when we do receive His grace gift and trust in Jesus, there are times when we reject His leading and turn away from Him. Our next sermon series explores that dilemma as we study and learn lessons from the life of the prophet Jonah. While his experience is far more dramatic than most of us, his basic issue is common to us in this desire to escape God’s presence; even when we know Him.
Scripture tells us how foolish it is to attempt to “Run from God”…
Where can I go to get away from your Spirit?
Where can I run from you?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there.
If I lie down in the grave, you are there.
9 If I rise with the sun in the east
and settle in the west beyond the sea,
10 even there you would guide me.
With your right hand you would hold me.
11 I could say, “The darkness will hide me.
Let the light around me turn into night.”
12 But even the darkness is not dark to you.
The night is as light as the day;
darkness and light are the same to you. Psalm 139:7-12 (NCV)
What makes us attempt this futile exercise of running from God? Sometimes we may simply prefer to follow our own course rather than following God’s leading. We have a lot of investment and momentum in our status quo direction. We prefer to avoid the effort of change and would rather continue what is comfortable to us. We trust our wisdom more than His. We consider our own strategy superior to what He has revealed to us. We may know what God has revealed as the best thing for us; but still choose to go with our desires. Greed can lead us to dishonest schemes. Sexual desire can lead to moral shortcuts we euphemistically call “alternative lifestyles” with shortcuts around the bounds of married life with one man and one woman. Impatience can lead to deceptive communication and manipulations.
Sometimes it is fear. We may sense that God is leading us to take up a challenge in serving Him and His people. It may involve risking our reputation, our resources or even our safety to follow His lead.
Whatever the reasons, when we are separated from the will and ways of God; we are the ones who have moved, not God. He is always wanting to be engaged with us—transforming, leading, empowering, sustaining and inspiring us. When we run from Him we disconnect ourselves from our greatest source of joy, purpose, hope and help.
What direction are you running? Are you moving toward the Lord and the blessing of His presence? Or are you engaged in the futile attempt to flee from His influence? The answer to these questions will go a long way to determining how life is going for you right now.
Looking forward to seeing you as we study Jonah together!