- Part One – God’s presence is often termed “God’s face”, He tells us to seek His face, it is a vital need for us, and He will help us.
- Part Two – Basic truth’s about God’s presence. He promises His presence if we love and obey Him.
- Part Three – Some of the many ways we can love God.
PART FOUR: WHY WE SOMETIMES SEE HIS FACE AND SOMETIMES NOT
During the 29 days it took to write this, I came to a partial understanding, based on studying God’s Word, so far, of this question. Even so, it is a partial understanding, with many unknowns. The simplest, and most complex, answer is that God IS sovereign. Period! Nevertheless, here are some reasons that seem obvious.
- God initiates.
- God responds.
- God withdraws temporarily.
- It is a blessing for God to discipline, or train, us.
- We encounter hindrances.
God initiates. He sovereignly makes people aware of His presence. Consider Moses and the burning bush, God calling out to Samuel in the night, and those times He simply overwhelms us, like my early morning experience I described. Why does He do that? Well, He loves us and wants to be with us; He wants to bless us; He wants to guide us; and a host of other reasons far beyond my understanding! I suppose the world filled with books could not contain the reasons any more than the world could contain all the wonders that Jesus performed while on earth. “If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. (John 21:25, NIV)
God simply loves us and delights to be with us, as a loving father delights to be with his children. Revelations 3:20 He says, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (NLT)
He, of course, knows that His presence is good for us. And, it pleases Him. As I wrote this, I was embarrassed at how seldom I ponder the fact that God has feelings. And I sincerely appreciate the gentle reminder from Holy Spirit to do so. . . often. I also decided to look up Scriptures on God’s emotions. Part of loving someone is wanting to know more about them. Let’s see, I know He loves us, He hates sin, He rejoices or feels joy, He is jealous of our love, He gets angry, He is compassionate, and He feels grief.
God responds. Sometimes we feel His presence because we have reached out to Him, because we have hoisted our sails. Sometimes, I believe He is waiting on us to reach out to Him first. In my mind, I compare that to our human love relationships. We may be confident and rejoice in the fact that our spouse or child or friend loves us and always responds when we reach out and ask for their attention, but when they reach out to us first, it does something different.
How often during the day does God tell us and show us He loves us?
How often during the day do we take 30 seconds to stop and say “I love You, Lord! Thank You for . . . “ ?
How would I feel if my family said, “I love you” and “Thank you” to me as often as I say those words to God?
When Ben asks, “Will you read to me, Nana?”, and when Ansel says, “Come look at my new Leggo set Nana!” it reinforces that they love me and just want me to be with them and share in their life. I respond!
God withdraws temporarily. The Bible is clear that God turns His face away, or hides His face from us, and does not answer us because of sin (Micah 3:4, Ezekiel 39:23-24). I think another reason we cannot feel His presence is that God sometimes deliberately removes our awareness of His presence because He is training us. Part of that training is requiring us to learn how to keep ourselves calm during troubles. And what best gives us calmness in the middle of troubles? The peace that comes from awareness of God’s presence. Do you think this is part of what Psalm 94:12-13 means?
“Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You discipline and instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law, that (emphasis added) You may give him the power to keep himself calm in the days of adversity until the [inevitable] pit of corruption is dug for the wicked.”
It is good to remember that training usually takes more than a day or two. You might not feel His presence for a long time, and perhaps it is because God knows of adversities ahead in your path that could steal the peace of His presence if you are not made stronger first. Or perhaps, He is training you to a closer, more mature walk with Him. That requires being able to do more things on your own.
A parent stays with a first-grader learning how to care for the family dog, but a ten-year-old is able to fill the bowls without parental supervision.
It is a blessing for God to discipline, or train, us. When I cannot feel God’s presence, I am miserable. I believe this is one way He uses to guide me. I often meditate on Hebrews 12, especially when I know God is using a situation to reveal hidden sins and weaknesses in my heart. God trains those He loves, and sometimes that training process is very painful, uncomfortable, and downright irritating! Training, pruning, the refining fire, and the potter’s wheel all seem painful – but only for a season. Lifting weights, biking, and long walks all take effort, but these exercises produce muscles, cardiovascular strength, and good health.
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of peace and righteousness for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11, NIV)
What aspect of God’s training makes you shrink back? If you ask, God will show you and He will strengthen your heart in that area. He loves it when we grow! (3 John 1:4)
Hindrances we can do something about. The previous paragraphs discussed reasons why we do not always feel God’s presence that are related to the sovereignty of God. In Part Five, we will look at hindrances over which we have some control.