God With Us

            As I write this, I’m going through a few personal trials.  Some things may come to a head soon.  I don’t know what I’d do if God weren’t with me and knowledgeable of every detail of my life. I count on His faithfulness.  Bear with me if I repeat old points.

            It disgusts me every time I hear someone stand up at the beginning of a church service and pray something like, “Lord, just be with us today.  Be with the pastor,” etc., etc.  That’s such a stupid thing to say.  Are they afraid they’re doing something that will cause God to step out the door during the service?  God already says He’s with us, and believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit already.  Jesus told His disciples in Matt. 28:20, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”  Heb. 13:5b says, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”  This misguided prayer habit has bugged me for years.  I prefer to pray, “Lord, remind us of your presence,” or “Thank you for being in our midst.”  After all, Jesus said in Matt. 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”  How would our daily lives be different if, as someone has put it, we practiced God’s presence?

            Yes, there are many times when God seems far away.  Reading through the Psalms shows the range of emotions experienced by David and others.  Sometimes the psalmist cried out to God in desperation.  Other times he praised Him and shouted for joy.  We should do the same.  God wants us to talk to Him and bear our hearts to Him.  He already knows what’s on our heart, so we can’t surprise Him.  He made each of us and knows what we’re made of.  Besides, talking things out to Him helps think things through.  God may not do what you or I might think He should do to remedy things, but He is there and He is sovereign, though He may seem silent and mysterious.  Recently I read a book by a Christian author who made a gratifying point about God’s silence.  God isn’t going to tell everyone else on Sunday the awful things you said last Thursday.  I would add that God keeps things confidential, which is one of the best reasons for taking Him into your confidence.

            A number of years back I paid tribute at a farewell banquet to a man I greatly respected who was taking a position in another state.  I said something like, “Who’s shoulder are we going to cry on when we have concerns about…?” a certain area of expertise of this man.  In his remarks acknowledging our tributes, he pointedly said, “And as for you, John, cry on your own d____ shoulder!”  I  got the point.  When it comes to our dealings with our great God, the Lord of the Universe, I don’t have to cry on my own shoulder, and neither do you.  I rejoice and revel in that!  Praise be to Him, I’m not alone, no matter what I’m going through.

            A story from 2 Kings 6:1-7 describes God’s concern over the littlest of details.  Elisha and others were cutting wood for a building when it happened.  “And when they came to Jordan, they cut down wood. But as one was felling a beam, the axe head fell into the water: and he cried, and said, Alas, master! for it was borrowed. And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he shewed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim. Therefore said he, Take it up to thee. And he put out his hand, and took it.” (vv. 4-7).  God May not perform a miracle for you, but He knows your situation.  He’ll do something you aren’t expecting.  He’ll use people and events you couldn’t even dream of.  Will you be ready?

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