...about feeling God.
…about feeling God.
Have you ever felt God’s presence, either around you, or with you, or in you?
I’m not asking if you believe in God, or if you have faith in Him, or if you can wrap your mind around the concept of the Trinity, as in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
I’m not asking you if you know that He’s with you, or if you know that He’s everywhere, of if you know that He’s in you. These are things that you’ve read, or heard, or have been taught.
What you believe, and what you know, are all matters of faith. You should know by now that I love talking about matters of faith, but we’re gonna save that topic for another day. On this particular day I want to talk to you about feeling the presence of God.
A Strange Place is the title of a post that was made a couple of weeks ago, in which I made several references to the fact that I was a bit unsettled because I hadn’t felt God’s presence in several weeks.
I received a lot of feedback from that post, and it was from that feedback that I came to realize a few things that I’d never considered before and something that I had forgotten…
For the past six weeks, my wife Jackie and I have been hosting a small Bible/fellowship/discussion group in our home. During one of those meetings, I shared my feelings of frustration with our group. It was during a conversation afterwards that Greg, a good friend and co-leader of the group, confided to me that he had never really felt the presence of the Holy Spirit.
“Why not?” was the question that immediately crossed my mind, but I didn’t voice it aloud to Greg; I didn’t want to put him on the spot. Besides, I believed that it was a question that I was supposed to answer for myself.
Why don’t more people feel God’s presence?
I spent the next several days trying to answer the question. I’ll confess that while there was no sense of emergency to find an answer, the question never really left me. During prayer and meditation; Why not? During the day at work; Why not? Watching T.V. with Jackie; Why not?
The answers to the question actually came to me when I was looking back over my shoulder, as in reflecting on the man I was four years ago. I’m gonna throw all of them out there; perhaps you can relate to one or more (I can relate to all of them!). And I’ll preface what I’m going to tell you by saying that FEAR is at the root of every one of the answers.
Actually, there’s only one primary answer to the question:
Quite simply, and quite truthfully, I never tried to feel His presence. Oh, I asked for His help, especially during the hard times. I’d pray, and go to church, and receive the Eucharist, and fast during Lent, and do all the things that I was supposed to do; the things that I was taught to do. I never knew that I could actually feel Him, and all I had to do was ask. All those years…I just didn’t know to ask.
There are a few other things that stand between many of us and God.
· We don’t seek his presence because we don’t think that we’re worthy of being in his presence. I feel that the worthiness issue is a huge stumbling block for most of us. We’re too busy looking over our shoulders at what we may have done in the past. We figure that there is no way that God could excuse us for some of the things we’ve done.
If that’s your line of reasoning, I’m gonna offer you one example that’ll blow your theory out of the water. For those of you not familiar with the Bible, I want to tell you in brief about this guy named Saul, who lived in Jesus’ time here on earth.
Saul was a Roman citizen whose primary purpose in life was persecuting Christians, and not just in the sense of dealing out orders for punishment. Yes, I’m talking about death sentences. This guy was responsible for the deaths of many Christians. In the eyes of God, how much worse can you get?
One day Saul is on the road to a town called Damascus with some of his men. At some point in his journey, he gets knocked off his horse, is blinded by a bright light, and hears the voice of God calling him.
At that moment, Saul’s life was changed. Saul went on to be an amazing servant of the Lord, and in fact played a huge role in the spread of Christianity. He healed the afflicted, and raised the dead! He also went on to be one of the largest contributing writers of the Bible. Don’t really recognize the name? Oh, I forgot to tell you. He changed his name to Paul.
What if Saul had deemed himself unworthy?
· FEAR! I think that many of us fear God’s presence because, well because He’s GOD. It’s almost as if we’re afraid that He might see who we really are, and even worse, all those dark secrets that we tuck away in the recesses of our minds. I’m not trying to be cynical, but come on; He knows what’s in our minds as soon as we think it! (Probably sooner.)
I believe that the fear factor is even stronger when we think about being in the presence of the Holy Spirit. I won’t go into depth on this topic because it would be an entire post in and of itself. Today, I’m not gonna talk about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which includes Healing and Tongues. It’s the Tongue one that scares a lot of us, isn’t it? Our fears tend to makes us forget that the Holy Spirit is also, among other things, our Comforter, our Sustainer, and our Strength.
· Many of us won’t allow ourselves to step outside the box of conventional religion. It goes back to what we learned as children from our parents, our churches, and our own personal experiences. Our minds won’t allow us to seek God in a different way, and it’s our own fears that are at the core of our reluctance to change.
If you believe that you’ve never felt God’s presence, or if you’re not sure, would you try something for me? This won’t take very long, and I pray that you’ll find it to be well worth the effort. And you don’t have to be in church to do it…
The first thing that I’d like for you to do is have one or two of your favorite worship songs ready to play. Don’t have any music at home? That’s okay. If you’re reading this post it tells me that you know how to use a computer. Visit www.Pandora.com and type in your favorite artist. If you don’t have a favorite artist, and are ready to broaden your horizons, just type in Hillsong United or Chris Tomlin. Either offers my favorite genre of worship music, not always for the melodies, but for the words.
Next, find a quiet place in your home, and say a prayer, asking God to forgive you for any and all things you’ve done in the past that were offensive to Him. Ask Him to remove any mental barriers that may prevent you from feeling Him. Tell Him that you want to feel His presence in you. Invite Him in. Prepare yourself mentally to feel Him.
Now cue up the music. When it begins playing, wait for Him. It doesn’t matter if you know the music, or the words; just let go and lose yourself in it. Look, if you really want to feel Him, do us both a big favor, and tell Him! Tell Him that you want to be with Him, that you want to feel the nearness of Him. You see, all that He’s waiting for is an invitation from you.
Then close your eyes and open both your heart and your mind. Be still, and be patient. He’ll show up; He always does. It may be in an earth-moving, heaven-shaking, or time-stands-still way when you feel Him the first time. Then again, it may seem to be nothing more than a gentle touch, or a tingle that runs up your spine, or the hairs on your arms standing straight up.
But when it happens, you’ll know it. And you’ll want to feel it, His presence, again and again and again. And life, as you know it now, will never be the same.
See you next week.