Practicing the Presence
*Firstly, let me start with the fact that we now have a little toddler, toddling all over the place. This photo was of her walking in the front of church this weekend and raising her arms “in worship.” With that said… here’s my thoughts today.
I have been on a mission to use less chemicals and waste so I ventured into town recently to get to a zero-waste store to buy some all-natural body wash. The one I chose to get had a faulty tap and so I started to fill my glass bottle (which was around 500ml worth) and realized quickly, I’d be here a while to fill this all up. But yet, the sacrifice for me was worth it as I would have a bottle of the best to use at home and it was cheaper to do this than buy the regular stuff. So I stood. And stood. And stood. And I felt like people thought it was weird and I got a bit tired with my arms above my head to reach and hold the bottle. But I had to stand and in essence, “practice the presence.”
Tonight while Lee and I spoke about the concept of God’s presence in worship, this moment came to my mind and I felt it was apt to stir up courage in our weary hearts. The enemy wants nothing more than for us to feel empty and like we have not felt God’s presence. In fact, if that were how we felt, he’d be more than excited for us to hang our ’empty cups’ up on the shelf as if to say, “That was all I had. I guess I am done now.” But the call on our lives is much more than to give up. It’s to seek God, speak truth and drink deep. And this is what it looks like as I read Psalm 42 for some wisdom on His presence.
“My longings overwhelm me for more of You! My soul thirsts, pants and long for the Living God. I want to come and see the Face of God. Day and night my tears keep falling and my heart keeps crying for your help.” – Psalm 42:1-3
• The first key to practicing His presence and knowing He is always near is this. Seek Him. Simple, to the point but not easy to do. We had an experience recently when I was a bridesmaid for a friend’s wedding. Lee was spending the day of the wedding with Taylor out in Hermanus while we all got ready and he was going to meet us there later. While busy doing my make up I got the most gut-wrenching call ever. “I lost floppy.” My stomach turned and I held back the tears knowing our weekend away was now ruined as Taylor would not be happy without her beloved Lily n Jack bunny, Floppy. It’s her soother, her bestie, her comfort when even we can’t help her settle. Lee went back to every shop, asked everyone and even went back again to search for Floppy. Alas, he didn’t find the bunny but his efforts were worth noting. That’s how God wants us to seek Him. To do whatever it takes to find Him, to feel Him and to know Him. He’s not playing hide-and-seek, He is just waiting for us to actively seek Him with our hearts.
“So I say to my soul – don’t be discouraged. Don’t be disturbed. For I know my God will break through for me. Then I’ll have plenty of reasons to praise Him all over again. Yes, living for His face is my saving Grace.” – Psalm 42:11
• Do you talk to yourself? I know I do. All the time. I have chats with myself – maybe it’s a bit weird but it helps me to navigate my emotions and to respond rather than react. That aside I find that often I need to speak truth to my own soul when it’s battling to feel God or find peace. God is always with us. Speak that to yourself when you feel empty or alone. Search scripture and keep key verses to encourage yourself with. Psalm 42 is basically David having a good chat with himself. He starts with a cry to feel God and goes through a journey of telling himself that God is with him and for him. It’s kind of a ‘fake it til you make it’ process. If you’re battling to experience the presence of God, practice it. Speak about it and you may find it was there all along just waiting for you to believe in the power and glory of the space it brings.
“I long to drink of you, O God. Drinking deeply from the streams of pleasure flowing from your presence. My longings overwhelm me for more of You.” – Psalm 42:1
• Let’s get scientific here. Deeper waters are found below the surface – example, Groundwater. If you think about it, surface water may seem like a good choice since it’s easy to get to and gets sunlight, etc. But it is so easily accessible that it can be very well contaminated and need purification before you can drink from it. Groundwater however has the buffer of rocks and soil which act as natural “purifiers” for the water found below the surface. The simplified version of the process of such water is that it came from the skies as rain, went down onto plants and what wasn’t soaked up by them kept on soaking into the ground below them and through rocks and into little “pocket” where it sits, waiting to be tapped into. Waiting to be drunk from. It’s deep and dark and hard to get to, but it’s worth it. It’ll be a pleasure to drink from.
God doesn’t want you to give up on Him. He doesn’t want you to think you had your chance in His presence and now it’s done. He wants you to remember that there is a source. And maybe you’ll be standing at the tap holding your arms up for a while like I did in the zero-waste store, but you will find fullness again and you will experience His pleasures again. Instead of deciding you don’t know how, try and practice His presence. Put aside your realities (God knows about those already), tell yourself the truth and get ready to drink deeply.