I was raised in church…the charismatic church. My parents worked in ministry. There wasn’t a time that the church doors were open that we weren’t there. We were Presence seekers. The whole service was designed to “usher in” the Presence of God. There was always this burden to be in God’s presence. If you didn’t “feel the Spirit moving”, you just hadn’t sang the song long enough… prayed long enough… he hadn’t preached long enough.
Or you were just doing it wrong. You weren’t surrendered. You had some secret sin in your life. You were rebelling in your heart. You needed to be at the altar more. Maybe you were being oppressed by demons (Christians can’t be possessed but they can be oppressed…I’d like a dollar for every time I heard that in a sermon). Or God forbid, you had backslidden.
My early years as a Christian were spent scared to death. I must have given my heart to Jesus a hundred times. Anytime I went to church or went to pray and felt nothing, I panicked. And I worked harder. Harder to get into His Presence…harder to please…harder to pray. It did some serious damage to my young heart, this pursuit of the Presence of God.
And then not long enough ago, I read “I am with you always” and “I will never leave you or forsake you” in a new light. I am God’s child. God’s Presence is always with me…in me…surrounding me. I don‘t have to do anything to summon Him. There are no rituals to be performed…no chants that will bring Him nearer. He is already here…with me…with you…every second of every day.
This changes the way I live. After all, if the Almighty God of the Universe is with me, I’m gonna get to know Him. Learn about Him. Read about Him. Talk to Him. Listen to Him.
If God is with me, I’m gonna think twice before I sin against Him, and when I do sin, I’m gonna make it right as fast as I can.
If God is with me, I want to be doing what He created me to do. I want to love others the way that He loves them. I want to be on His side when it comes to any dispute. I want His agenda to be my agenda.
If God is with me, I’m going to be intentional about what my eyes see, what my ears hear, what my mouth says, where my feet go.
And I’m going to talk to Him about all of it. Ask Him questions. Tell Him what is bothering me. Consult Him about all my decisions.
If the all knowing, all powerful God of the Universe is with me, I’m not stupid enough to do life on my own.
And if God is with me already when I go to church, I worship Him like He’s already there…because He is. He comes with me. I listen to the sermon because I want to know more about the God who is already with me. I go to the altar because I want to be more like Him…I want to love other people like He loves me. And I don’t leave Him at church when it’s over…He goes with me.
I’m not waiting for an experience anymore to prove that God is present. Why would I do that when He’s already with me…all the time…every time…in every place?
Yes, corporate experiences of God’s Presence can be awesome. And they can change things. But only when the people gathered recognize that God is already with them all the time. He’s already working. He hasn’t stopped. We are with God already. When we come together, we aren’t trying to get God to come down here with us. He already is. We do life in His Presence every day. When we come together, the God who is already here, is trying to get us to unify our hearts in Him. That unity shakes the foundations of evil and crumbles strongholds.
But God’s Presence? He’s with you right now. He’s not less powerful because you are alone. He sees and knows and has the answer for everything you are going through. He’s not blind to anything you do or say or watch or listen to. He’s not dumb…you can’t fool Him into thinking you are loving and serving Him if you aren’t…you can’t “turn God off” for a while so you can do whatever you want.
He is here. “Getting into His Presence” simply requires recognizing how ever present He is. Don’t miss Him like I did for so long while waiting for a miraculous sign from Heaven. He is with you right now.