Feasting on God’s Presence. In the corner of my bedroom, on top of the cherrywood chest of drawers where my father put his watch, wallet, and keys every night and where, twenty-five years later, I changed my infant daughter’s diapers, stands a light maple jewelry chest, a gift from my daughter. A three-inch hand-carved wooden dog, also my father’s, leans against the jewelry chest. Behind the jewelry chest, a tall, slender faux crystal vase holds a spray of white flowers. On the wall above, where the eye is naturally drawn, hangs a gilt-framed picture of a ruby-throated hummingbird, hovering beside the open face of a crimson day lily, feeding on its nectar.
That picture is my reminder that, as the hummingbird must eat five to eight times per hour to survive, so my soul and spirit must feast continually on God’s presence and God’s Word. Hard experience imprinted that truth on my heart.
Although it was difficult, I thank God for the months of affliction that taught me to seek, to inquire for and require God as my necessity and to truly seek Him with all my heart and mind and soul and life (Deuteronomy 4:29) I now understand why we must always seek the sweetness and strength of His presence. I can truly say that “Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I obey God’s Word.” (Psalm 119:67, NIV)
We can be strong in the Lord. “In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides.] (Ephesians 6:10. AMPC)
Toward the end of his letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes “In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides.] Notice verse 10 says that our union with Him is what empowers us and makes us strong. We draw our strength from Him, and His strength is boundless, without measure, because it comes from His very nature, His omnipotence.
In the months required to overcome fear and depression, I learned that God’s presence—being in communion with Him– kept me strong. Only God kept me at peace and gave me hope and perseverance, though the path was often rocky.
How did I learn to stay in His presence more often? (I say more often because I still strive to make it constant.) By keeping my mind fixed on Him (Isaiah 26:3), keeping His Word in my sight and within my heart (Proverbs 4:21), and constantly praising and thanking Him for His goodness (Psalm 119:164). Practicing these three disciplines never fails to restore me.
How gracious is our God to give such fullness of joy in His presence so that we, like the hummingbird, may ever be drawn to that nourishing sweetness!
God makes us successful. “Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies, that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil”. (Ephesians 6:11, AMPC)
God gives us weapons to fight this great spiritual battle that is the life of every believer. Verse 11 says that I “may be able successfully to stand up against ALL the strategies and deceits of the devil” if I use all the armor God has provided. That spiritual armor includes: truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation and His Word as well as prayer (from Ephesians 6:14-18). Read the passage from verse 10 through 20. It shows us that victory as a believer requires drawing our strength from God and using the armor He provides, which includes prayer, and standing strong in our place. To fight the good fight, I MUST have the constant, strengthening nourishment of God’s presence and His Word . . . like the beautiful, delicate but mighty hummingbird.
God knows we face impossible odds. “For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere. (Ephesians 6:12, AMPC)
It seems impossible that any living creature could manage to feed itself five to eight times per hour for all its life. God knows hummingbirds face impossible odds in feeding themselves, so God gives His tiny birds the means they need to obtain their 120 to 192 meals each day. He gives them a heart that beats 1200 times a minute; wings that beat 50 to 200 times a second; and aerobatic skill to fly forwards, backwards, sideways, and straight up. They can hover for 50 minutes, and furthermore, do instant 180s while hovering. (www.worldofhummingbirds.com) Possessing those amazing attributes, mature hummingbirds have almost no natural enemies. They simply outfly and outmaneuver them.
Faint of heart! (I am talking to myself here!) How much more then has our all-loving, all gracious, tender-hearted, compassionate, and adoring Heavenly Father given us what we need to face and conquer our impossible odds in the spiritual realms? His Presence and His Word are available to all His children who ask. “God is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you (2 Chronicles 15:2, NIV).
God enables us to stand our ground in hard times. “Therefore put on God’s complete armor that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger]; and having done all the crisis demands, to stand firmly in your place] (Ephesians 6:13, AMPC)
To “stand your ground” is a battle term. It means to stand and fight to defend the ground on which you are standing when the enemy attacks. Think about that and think about it in light of verses 10 through 12. Do you see that drawing on God’s strength and using the armor He gives us enables us to resist the enemy and keep standing, firmly in our place, keeping our life settled and safe?
The Word says we will be able to stand firmly in our place. That means we will not lose one inch of our ground. We will fight, yes, but our feet will stay firm, planted, in our own place. We will not grope around with our feet, seeking a firm place to support us. No! With our God we can not only stand firm but with our God’s help we can advance against a troop! We can scale a wall! (Psalm 18:26)
If we, like the hummingbird, constantly seek out the life-sustaining sweetness of God’s presence, as if our life depended on it, we will draw on His boundless strength and, thus, we will stand, firmly, in our place.