Assumption and Awareness

One of the most basic truths for the Christian is that God is always present with us.

            After all, we affirm that a central aspect of God’s divine character is His omnipresence. He is constantly present to His people in every place, across limitations of space and time.

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. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night, even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. (Ps. 139:7-12)

That is usually seen as an expression of God’s care for His people.  In moments of crisis or pressure, we quote the promises to one another:

It is the Lord God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. (Dt. 31:6) Or the New Testament quotation of it: “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5)

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, You are with me, Your rod and staff they comfort me. (Ps. 23:4)

            There is no moment of our lives when we are utterly alone. By His Spirit and through His Son, the God of the ages is with us, as close as our next breath. This is a precious truth, a remarkable and beautiful mercy.  

            And yet, I honestly don’t think about it much.  God is with me at Kroger, waiting in line at the bank, driving back and forth to Louisville, while mowing the yard or hanging out with the family, feeding the dog.  I swim in his presence every moment, but like the oxygen carbon dioxide and nitrogen that make up the air I breathe, it becomes a silent and invisible background to my life.

            I assume God’s presence.  I faith it, believe it, love it, even depend on it. But I largely assume it.

             The Bible describes moments when the assumed Presence comes out of hiding.  

            Moses is seemingly tending sheep alone in the wilderness of Midian on the mountain of God:

And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. (Ex. 3:2-6)

            Notice that Moses noticed the burning bush and turned aside.  He became aware that there was something out of the ordinary and natural way of the wilderness. This was something literally extra-ordinary and supernatural. And in the turning, he experienced God in a way that he had not before.

            Awareness led to encounter. Encounter led to calling. Calling led to mission. Mission advanced God’s redemptive purposes and brought blessing. 

            One day, Peter allowed Jesus to use his boat as a floating pulpit. 

And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.  (Luke 5:4-11)

            Notice that Peter noticed the catch and stopped in his tracks.  He became aware that this was something out of the ordinary and natural way of the sea. This was something extra-ordinary and supernatural. And in the turning, he experienced God in a way that he had not before. 

            Awareness led to encounter.  Encounter led to calling. Calling led to mission.  Mission advanced God’s redemptive purposes and brought blessing. 

            Here’s the thing.  I think I assume God’s ongoing invisible presence a lot more than I am becoming aware of His extraordinary and supernatural appearances in my life.  

            The God of the ages may be showing up around me in more surprising and wonderful ways than I have dreamed.  It’s probably not a burning bush or a boatful of fish, but I am convinced He is at work. Jesus said, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” (John 5:17)   

            Where could He be? 

            Suddenly, ordinary days become adventures in God-spotting.

            If I become aware, I may encounter Him, hear His call and be on the front edge of what God in Christ is doing next to redeem people and restore life in my part of the world and bring blessing.

            But if I walk in mere blind assumption, I may miss it all. 

            Elisha’s servant was frightened when the city was surrounded by the horses and chariots of Syria:

            And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:15-17)

            I don’t want to miss burning bushes, overflowing nets or chariots of fire. I don’t want to miss where God is moving around me.  I don’t want to miss blessing. But even more, I don’t want to miss God and leave my shoes on when I should be barefoot or be standing when I need to bow in awe.

            Lord, please open my eyes, that I may see…really see. Make me aware.  I don’t want to miss a thing.


One response

  1. Living with our spirit eyes open and observing…’s a good reminder for us all. Thanks.

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