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A sense of the “present” God

By August 21, 2007 faith No Comments

It is in the starkness of death that the reality of life is laid bare. Here we stop short, faced with the truth that we all must face. Over the weekend I had two funerals to attend; one for my husband’s grandfather, the other for a dear family friend of my parents’. In both services this reality hit me, and so I’ve been pondering the things of life and death and what sense can be made of it.

Being a follower of Christ (sometimes it’s skipping, sometimes it’s shuffling, sometimes it’s dragging), I have the Word of God to turn to for defining the meaning of life and death. But sometimes these truths are too stiff or distant, especially in the midst of sorrow. It is in such times, such as at these funerals, that I am so grateful for the presence of God. He Himself comes near to whisper those very truths to my heart, making them come alive once again and stick where it’s needed.

At both of these services, I had moments of grief that caught my breath. I am sad for all who have lost someone precious, who now must make a new sense of normal without that loved one in it. This sense of loss and loneliness is the thing that tears me up. Each time that came at me, however, there was a stronger sense of Someone greater, Someone who has comfort to give and salve for the pain. He came near to me in this reality in a way I cannot fully explain. But I am grateful, even for this that I don’t fully understand. And it props up my weak faith, helping me to trust that in the event of a closer loss, there He will be. A. W. Tozer said this:

Wherever faith has proved itself to be real, it has inevitably had upon it a sense of the “present” God. . . . This sense of “Someone” there makes religion invulnerable to critical attack. It secures the mind against collapse under the battering of the enemy. Those who worship the God who is present may ignore the objection of unbelieving men!

Certainly at both services there were people who did not sense God’s nearness as I did, even though we were in the same place at the same time. But I cannot deny His nearness; and I wouldn’t want to be without Him.

I’m so thankful for the sense of “Someone” there so that I don’t have to face reality alone.

  • http://michaeldanner.typepad.com Michael Danner

    Erin,

    What do you make of the recent Time article and book about the faith struggles of Mother Teresa? From the outside, I would assume everything she did was bolstered by a strength that comes from the present God, and yet it seems she experienced God as absent – painfully absent – even as she lived out a life of faith. The Time article has caused me to stop and think (which I am still doing). What do you think?

    I had not read this article but did so at your prompting. Wow! The depth of this heart is rather overwhelming. There is much to ponder about this . . . I think this serves as a perfect starting point to a new post! Coming soon (as soon as I can wrap my brain around all this and give concise personal examples.)

    My initial, brief response is this: God’s “felt” presence is not constant for me. When I am surprised by His nearness, as at the funeral, I am so very grateful. In between these showings, I am left to live by faith. Admittedly, I am rather shallow and would rather have His felt presence instead. It would be easier, but it would do little to solidify my jelly-like faith. During the worst stretching of my life, which was a pitch-black bottomless pit lasting about two years, I had similar thoughts as described in the Time article. For whatever reason, my dark stretch had a dawning. I cannot begin to explain why mine did and why Mother Teresa’s did not. I hate it for her and for anyone else walking that way. These things make my heart ache to be home, to be whole. Someday.

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