Psalm 139:7-10 (NIV)
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
There is a beautiful celestial object that glimmers in the night sky called the Orion Nebula. The Orion Nebula is the nearest “star factory” to Earth, and is a bright, stellar nursery where hundreds of new stars are being born. It is visible, in the best conditions, to the naked eye–unless there is light pollution, cloudy weather, or a problem with the eyes that are looking for it in the starry skies above.
The fascinating thing about the Orion Nebula is that no matter what the weather is like in my city, no matter at what point in the earth’s rotation we are positioned, and no matter at what point in our revolution around the sun we are coasting, the object remains there. Anywhere you go in the world you can see it—if you wait long enough, look long enough, and know what to look for.
According to Psalm 139:7-10, that is how it is with the Holy Spirit. God’s abiding presence is not determined by the weather in my heart that may obscure or reveal his loving activity in my life. God’s pursuing presence is not determined by how I am feeling on this particular day of the year, or how I am faring during this particular season of my life. The Holy Spirit is always present, active, within reach, and there—if I have eyes to see.
Walking with the Holy Spirit through life can feel a bit like playing a very long game of hide and seek! One moment, we are sure of God’s presence, our emotions in full-connect and our minds at full-attention. At other moments, however, we can feel very disconnected and unable to perceive God’s presence. At those times, the Spirit is no less there, no less present, than ever before. But we can diminish in our awareness of the Holy Spirit’s engagement with our lives if we are not practicing—cultivating through worship—an ongoing sense of his closeness.
Brother Lawrence, the 17th century writer of the simple devotional classic, The Practice of the Presence of God, put it this way: “I make it my business to persevere in His holy presence, wherein I keep myself by a simple attention, and a general fond regard to God, which I may call an actual presence of God; or, to speak better, an habitual, silent, and secret conversation of the soul with God, which often causes me joys and raptures inwardly . . .”
The Holy Spirit is not going anywhere—but we do. We can turn our hearts toward God at any moment, parting the clouds that obscure our awareness with a song of worship or a written prayer that stirs our soul, to enjoy a fresh conversation with the one who will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5b).
Jesus, I receive your Holy Spirit. You are present with me, right now, and your nearness is unchanging. Come, Holy Spirit, teach me how to cultivate an awareness of your love for me, and your intention to deepen me in faith and hope. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
Was there a time in this past month when God felt far away, but drawing near to God in worship seemed to close the gap?
For the Awakening,