Not too long ago, I was at the gym early one morning, and I felt unusually aware of God’s love and presence in my life (and that’s saying something, because the only thing I’m usually aware of at that hour is my need for more sleep).
Anyway, although I felt groggy, I began internally singing the words of a simple worship song to Jesus. However, I had trouble focusing on the song due to the speakers at the gym, which were blaring OutKast’s song, “I Like the Way You Move.”
I tried to keep the worship song going in my head, but the speakers in the gym were so loud. Within minutes, I got distracted, and I could hardly remember the worship chorus I had been singing in my head.
After chatting with a couple of friends in between lifting weights, I eventually forgot my song and the One to whom I had been singing. Normal life took over.
For the past few weeks, my whole spiritual life has felt like that morning in the gym. I’m juggling so many things that – even when I momentarily experience God’s presence – it’s a fight to stay fixed on Him. The racket and day-to-day duties of normal life replace His voice with the sound of earthly static.
A lot of Christians say that when we can’t feel God in times of preoccupation, it’s basically because God’s presence has departed from us, that He’s taken a leave of absence until we read our Bibles again or pray really hard. I don’t believe that’s biblical at all.
Scripture tells us we can’t ever get away from His presence, that His Spirit permanently lives in and through us (Psalm 139:7-12, Ephesians 1:13, Romans 8:9). So, no, I don’t believe He goes away because OutKast songs scare Him away, or because we’re having an argument with our spouse, or because the baby is crying too loudly.
I believe He’s the God who sticks around, even when the world is blaring its song at us from every direction. As my friend Beth Cunningham says, it’s not a matter of Him being present, it’s a matter of us being aware that He’s present.
That’s encouraging, knowing I don’t have to concoct the right potion to invoke His presence. It’s a relief to recognize that no matter how distracted I get, He still “rejoices over me with singing” and whispers to me in His “still small voice” – and yes, He’s still faithful, “even when I’m faithless” (Zephaniah 3:17, 1 Kings 19:11-13, 2 Timothy 2:13).
Yeah, His presence is still there – it’s just so hard for me to get still enough to experience it.