Can we experience the presence of the almighty God on a daily basis? I believe the Scripture is clear that we can, and in this article, I will provide four “steps” that will help us achieve this tremendous reality – be accepted; be aware; be active; and be alert. I do not claim that this list of steps is exhaustive. In fact, the majority of the information in this article is merely meant to give the reader some foundational principles that will provide a starting point for further practical studies on living a life of dwelling in God’s presence.
Step 1: Be Accepted
Hebrews 10:19-22: Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a high Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Mankind can only approach the majestic presence of the Almighty “by the blood of Jesus” shed during His redemptive work on the cross. When we acknowledge our sinfulness and accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour, we appropriate His redemptive work for us, and we become recipients of the greatest opportunity humankind has had since the Garden of Eden: the opportunity to walk once again in the cool of the day with the God of the Universe.
In Hebrews 10:19 – 22, we are encouraged to have “boldness” to enter the “Holiest” – the place of God’s manifest presence. In the Old Testament, only the high priest could enter the holy of Holies once a year, and then only after performing seven days of cleansing activities to ensure he was fully consecrated (as well as providing himself some degree of certainty that he would come out alive!)
Therefore, boldness was probably not part of their mindset. Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, may have been bold when they offered “profane fire before the LORD,” but fire came out from the presence of the Lord andconsumed them. We, however, because of the sacrificial work of Jesus on the cross as our “High Priest,” are encouraged to draw as near to God as the high priests in the Old Testament did. Jesus’ death on the cross has consecrated believers to enter the holy place of God’s presence with “full assurance” that we are acceptable to the Almighty.
It was in the “Holiest” place where the priests saw the shekinah glory of God over the Mercy Seat. We may never see God’s presence in such a vivid demonstration. Yet figuratively, He is inviting us into the very same place where we can stand in awe of His glorious presence. Let us not forsake the invitation that God has given us in Hebrews 10 to “draw near.” What an awesome privilege to be invited to enter into the very presence of the almighty God because of Christ’s work!
In light of this invitation (which indicates our acceptance to God), there is another step to our experiencing God daily:
Step 2: Be Aware
Jeremiah 23:24 (New Living Translation) “Can anyone hide from me? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” asks the LORD.
This verse applies, no matter who you are. Like Adam and Eve, some people may try to hide from God but to no avail. He is always there, wherever you are. We are always ‘in’ His presence. Here in Jeremiah, the nature of His presence is not ‘manifest’ as it was over the Mercy Seat; rather, it is a universal presence that enables the Creator to always be with His creation. As believers, we can appropriate this step by maintaining a conscious awareness that His presence is ‘ever’ with us. When we are at home, when we are at the store, when we are in the car – wherever we are, so is He. A conscious, daily pondering of this truth will prove to be of great comfort to us when we have struggles in life. It will also help us to elevate our minds from this earthly plane to His heavenly realm: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2).
In addition to God’s presence being universal, He also indwells believers. 1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? What an astounding thing – that God Himself has chosen to dwell in us, His adopted children! We are never alone. He is with us through joy and pain, in blessing and heartache, while we are awake and while we are asleep. Always. He is closer than our very breath. In fact, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)
With these pieces of truth before us, we now turn to the next step of actively seeking God’s presence.
Step 3: Be Active
Hebrews 10:19, 22 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus … let us draw near…
These verses call us to boldly draw near to His presence. This may appear to contradict the implications of His presence being universal and His Holy Spirit dwelling in us. So, let’s examine this admonition to “draw near” from two perspectives: our perspective and God’s perspective.
Our perspective: Our drawing near to God comes from our hearts’ desire for more intimacy with the Creator of the universe; an intimacy much deeper than His cosmic presence gives and more intimate than even His indwelling presence provides. It is an intimacy not unlike a bride’s desire for her bridegroom’s embrace, or a child’s longing to be held by his or her father. God’s Perspective: God longs to dwell with us in the sweet fellowship that was lost in the Garden because of sin. Now, since Jesus died to pay the price for our sin, the Father is ever bidding, ever inviting humanity back into companionship, to dwell and commune forever with Him. He desires to be intimate friends or lovers (if you will) with those whom He created and deeply loves.
Not to belabour the issue, but to reiterate it because of its profound implications, we can enter into God’s glorious presence with a “humbleboldness” because of what Jesus accomplished for us.
We may, sometimes, think of God as a taskmaster with a list of ‘chores’ for us to do. In reality, His heart beats with both a kind of love for us and a desire to fellowship with us. Jesus issued an invitation in Revelation 3:20: “Look! Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me calling and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal as friends.” (New Living Translation)
As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, I will not be dealing in depth with all the practicalities of pursuing God’s presence. However, I feel I would be amiss at this point if I fail to present, at least, a few personal examples. One example is when I allow the Holy Spirit to lead me to choose the Scripture passages to meditate on. I try to follow a yearly Bible reading regimen, but I have the most blessed times thumbing through the Scriptures, waiting for the Spirit’s guiding and listening to His instruction. What a beautiful way to learn about God—being taught by Him!
For Further Study:
Numbers 14: 13 – 14, Hebrews 10:19 – 22
Questions for Reflection:
Do you allow God to lead you as He desires?
Has His leading paid off?
Lord, your presence will I seek with the whole of my being. Make me your dwelling place.