Today I’m thinking through why God’s presence is valuable and what that shows me about him.
I woke this morning with a thought that didn’t seem right to me, “God won’t let good things happen for me so that he can protect me from pride.” Because of this, I started my Bible study with a letter to God in my journal. First I explained the personal context to him and then I asked Him a question, “What kind of trickery is my mind playing on me? Would you please teach me how to enjoy life under the sun within your presence?” Then I read the passages I had planned for today.
Psalm 84:11-2 called my attention to the trickery that was going on. “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you!”
I felt bad that it’s not easy for me to believe this about God, so I told him so and asked him to forgive me. Then I dug deeper into Psalm 84.
Psalm 84 expresses the author’s deep longing for the presence of God. Back in his day he had to travel to a specific location to enjoy God’s presence. We, however, do not have to travel in order to be in the presence of God, according to John 4:21-24. It boggles my mind that He is always with me. I decided to think about the writer’s desire and happiness that he felt as he thought about going to the place where God dwelt. So, I read it again putting in the front of my mind his desire and feelings of happiness alongside the reality that the Spirit dwells within me — because of God’s great love for me in sending his Son Jesus Christ to die on a cross so that I could enjoy his presence for all eternity.
In meditating on the psalm in this way I marked each verse that speaks to God’s presence.
- How lovely is your dwelling place (presence), O Lord of hosts! (v1)
- My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord (presence). (v2)
- Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars (presence), O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. (v3)
- Blessed are those who dwell in your house (presence), ever singing your praise! Selah (v4)
- Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion (presence). (v5)
- For a day in your courts (presence) is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God (presence) than dwell in the tents of wickedness. (v10)
After a third reading, the fact that all good things are found in the presence of God was refreshed in my memory. Truth dissolved the trickery that controlled my thoughts earlier when I woke up. Truth gave me something to hold onto in case the thoughts came back.
At this juncture I cannot tell you any further how to rid yourself of anxiety that creeps in with wrong thinking. The answer is not the reading of the Word or our ability to memorize a verse — although the soothing of my doubt and emotions began with a belief that these two action steps are the place to start.
The life-giving transaction takes place when the Spirit wields the Truth to make it affect our minds, wills and emotions. It’s powerful magic! I can’t explain how He does this, but I know the healing and comfort I receive is other; it is magical in the sense that magic is defined as inexplicable things.
As a result of the Spirit’s work and not mine, I can thank Him all day long as I return to the truth He made come alive for me in the morning. Without Him I wouldn’t be writing to you right now. I would not be moving on about my day assured with the comfort of the gospel. Instead, I would be drowning in doubt and fear spurred on by the tricky thought I woke with this morning.
- The Tricky Thought: God won’t let good things happen for me so that He can protect me from pride.
- The Truth: In God’s presence I will find favor, honor and good things.
So, why is God’s presence valuable and what does that mean about Him? It is valuable because it’s the only place we can find life — and that tells me that God is good!
Here’s a coloring page for you in case you would like to meditate on the fact that God is near, now and always.