Presence Of God
A Personal Experience
A change began to occur with me in 1984. God was doing something in my life and I came to a tremendous revelation of the grace of God. I don’t want to go into any detail but to say that I went through a period of many weeks of repentance for the sin in my life. Something began to stir within me, a gratitude for the love of God. At the time of my mistakes I remember going through a period of time saying, God will you leave me alone? Will you stop loving me? I felt his love and I didn’t want it. When I came through that period I was so grateful that God had hung in there and had waited for me. Out of this experience I was saying, I just want to go God’s way. I started getting my life in order and God began speaking to me. I began to experience things that didn’t make a lot of sense but now I understand what was happening. It wasn’t the norm but every now and again I just knew God’s presence in a very acute and intense way.
You might say, how is it you become hungry for God? The Bible speaks about returning to our first love. When we are in love we have a hunger/desire and those of you who have had boyfriends, girlfriends, been married you will know the experience of something that wells up within when you are in love and you can’t wait to meet your loved one. When you are home or when you are at work you are thinking about the one you love. You can’t wait to be with them, and then when you are with them you are enjoying sharing each others lives. You relate to each other what has been happening and what you feel about one another. That is what it is like with Jesus.
There are times when a marriage can break down and it is at these times you need to work at it, and you have to adjust your actions and thoughts. There is a need for you to demonstrate, I am going to make this marriage work, despite how I feel about my husband or wife I am going to make sure that this will work. I will go against all my natural feelings and emotions and I am going to love them. I am going to do what is right by God, my husband or my wife despite how I feel - even though they might be hurting me I will love them. Love goes beyond our emotions and has an area that we can control. When we do what is right in God’s eyes a change in you will occur and your emotions will come inline with what is right. Don’t be lead by your emotions alone.
This is what it is like when we have grown cold towards Jesus. We can’t sit there and pray saying, please God help me to have a hunger and love for Jesus. James 4:7-10 So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he'll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it's the only way you'll get on your feet. God says, “You generate it. You show me that you are hungry.” You will start demonstrating by your actions, and saying, God I want to be more like you. You know when your conscience is speaking, unless you have got to the stage of a seared conscience. Your conscience will speak to you and tell you, that attitude, actions etc.: are not right. What you said to that person, or what you did wasn’t right. As we listen to our conscience and as God speaks to us we come to a place where we repent and ask God’s forgiveness so that we are continually listening to God. As these occasions occur so we find that God responds to us and we feel our response to him - you begin to fall in love, you begin to feel it and you begin to know it. Then, because you are feeling and sensing the love of God you just want to be with him. The more you want to be with him, the more that desire wells up within you to spend more time with him and eventually you come to the stage of where he is just regularly in your thoughts. We do not become inhuman or abnormal in fact we become naturally spiritual and spiritual natural. Our focus in life becomes Jesus centred and we just want to please Him and serve Him.
God is really taking us through a process - dying to self. It is as our flesh life, as the old Adamic nature, as the old sinful nature, as God takes hold of it he says, “I want rid of it”. He doesn’t hate us, it is the sin that he dislikes, he loves each one of us right now - but he does want us to live free from bad habits, restrictions of sin. I remember at home one day, several years ago, I asked God “I want a revelation of your cross when you died their for me and what you did for me”. God began to show me what he had done for me on the cross and I began to see the agony he went through. It was because I asked Him He responded. So often we don’t receive because we don’t ask, or seek earnestly.
We are not seeking more of God to experience an experience. That isn’t the answer, we are not seeking the presence of God so we can have some kind of wonderful ethereal feeling, we are seeking after Him because we love Him. We are going to him because of what he has done for us. We want to be in his presence because we are so much in love. And it is as a consequence that we are then in his presence because we are allowing Him to fashion our character. He can then fellowship with us spirit to spirit.
How do we come into his presence? I found that initially it was focusing my attention on him. Getting to a place where I wasn’t going to be disturbed and initially the first times occurred when I was driving my car. I used to drive a long way to work, it would be at those times that I would be able to think on him. An area that helped me most was listening to worship and not praise. Do you know the difference? Praise is where we are saying things to him, about him. Worship is where we are adoring him, bowing down before him, a love relationship. It is out of a love relationship and we are acknowledging and saying things to him. I found that it was in those times I was experiencing the presence of God. I was finding his presence very acute. I know that some of us have a problem in shutting down our minds. I experienced that as well - you find that whatever physical position you find comfortable all of a sudden your mind has switched onto some other subject, you realise your mind has wondered. What do you do? You bring your mind back, you don’t get under condemnation you just bring it back and focus your attention on him again. In the Madam Jeanne Guyon book Experiencing The depths of Jesus Christ (recommended reading) she refers to “going inside”, turning into yourself. When I first read it I thought I don’t know what she means? It is taking hold of your mind and concentrating on him. You then begin to experience coming into the presence of God, then you come into the silence and you feel that you don’t want to move and you don’t want to do anything at all. You hardly want to breathe because his presence is so intense. You think how can my mind wander in that situation but it does. You have had an undisciplined mind and that is what Madam Guyan is talking about, you are turning inwards as you turn yourself into yourself that is where your spirit is and the Scripture talks about that he dwells within us and what we are doing is alerting our spirit to him. You will find that as you begin to do that in the silence, He will come and he will begin to communicate things to you.
It is becoming more deeply acquainted with him. It is not just getting saved and being baptised in water and in the spirit, God wants to deeply get acquainted with us. Paul said Philippians 3: 8-11 Msg 7-9 The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I'm tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I've dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn't want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God's righteousness. 10-11 I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.
There can be a relationship and an intimacy with God. Those of you who are married will know that when you are with your wife and you are at those intimate moments there are times when you say nothing yet there is so much said. And so it is with Him, that He wants us to be able to talk to him in that intimate way, that in the quietness and the silence he begins to reveal things to us.
Finally, God spoke to me very clearly when I was on holiday in Tenerife. I had spent three days just seeking God, having tremendous difficulty because I couldn’t get into his presence at the level I had known. I thought, this is crazy. I am on holiday, I have no distractions from the world, I have no pressure in the stress of my job yet I can’t get into your presence. In those days I used to go to a gym and do weight training. On the complex where we were staying there was a gymnasium and I had been going every day. This particular day I came back to our apartment and said, my arms are absolutely killing me. My daughter replied, “Dad no pain - no gain”. God spoke to me through it and said, “If you want me, you are going to have to go through some of the pain. The fellowship of his sufferings, you will have to go through it. (Phillipians 3 v 10 above) But you thought there was a formula, you had no divine rights on me. You can meet all the conditions, but you have no right in coming into my presence.” I had to come and repent and say, sorry, God I had taken you for granted. I was getting proud in my holiness and God had to deal with that and bring me to a place where I had to say, Lord it is only because of your grace. At the end of the day I can’t manufacture a formula, I can’t give you a way to tell you how to get into the presence of God, you will have to find it for yourself. I can give you some keys, factors which are important, but there isn’t a formula.
I cant say that I have constantly lived at this level as it is related to your desire. This life style demands a sacrifice a price to pay , but it is worth it.