- Nothing out of his control - The sovereignty of God (1)
- Clinging to the Rock - the immutability of God (2)
- God is self-sufficient (3)
- God is Omniscient (4)
- God is incomprehensible (5)
- God Is Omnipresent (6)
It was a Saturday afternoon, and a friend of mine was finishing preparing his sermon ready to preach one and a half miles away from his house in Cardiff. Then his phone rang. ‘We’re really looking forward to having you with us tomorrow!’ Now, this was not a voice he recognised from the local area. In order to subtly find out more information, my friend asked, ‘Can you remind me where the church is again?’ ‘It’s just by Penhryn station,’ the voice responded. My friend’s heart sank. He had double-booked and the churches were 150 miles apart! In that moment, my friend was very aware of a limit that we experience as humans. We are limited to one place at one time!
This limit can be a little blurred by technology, we can FaceTime or Zoom while going about our daily tasks, or we can shop online while waiting for the baby to fall asleep. During the lockdown months, I know of people who preached in 2 (even 3) different churches simultaneously! The problem is, when we try to be in two places at once, we can often fail to be present in either.
Perhaps you know the frustrations of these limits. Maybe your child has their sports day at the same time as another’s musical performance, or maybe work commitments compete against church responsibilities. Perhaps it’s the longing to be with a struggling or ill loved one who is the other side of the world. We cannot be present in more than one place at a time.
A limitless God
Knowing our limits helps us to be in awe of a limitless God. God is omnipresent. It means that he is ‘all’ present, or limitlessly present. God is Spirit (John 4:24) which means that he is not limited by space. He is wholly present in all places at all times. There is nowhere you can go where God isn’t. There is nothing that happens that doesn’t happen in his presence for ‘in him we live and move and have our being’ (Acts 17:28).
This might be a truth we can nod our heads to or even pass a test on – but are you really living in the light of the immediate presence of the living God in your life? Or are you living as if he is effectively absent?
Here are 3 ways that this truth should transform our lives.
I remember going over to a friend’s house when we were younger. There was a sitting room we weren’t allowed in with a pristine carpet, antique furniture and a cream sofa. Considering our perpetual muddy feet and sticky hands, barring us from the room made perfect sense! Sometimes we think we can keep God out of certain areas of our lives. Like Jonah, we can try and run away from his presence (Jonah 1:3). However, there is no place in our lives where God isn’t. He is present for every word, thought, action and motive. That means whether in public or private, God is present. Our lives should line up. When that truth hits home it will help us to live lives of deep integrity.
We might think that our day-to-day lives are pretty insignificant. As we clear away the toys for the hundredth time, spend another hour visiting a loved one who no longer recognises us or start our daily mundane commute, we might think that nobody cares or notices what we do. The truth of God’s omnipresence charges every moment of our lives with divine significance. You live your life in the presence of the King of kings. There is nothing insignificant about that! God is with you. He sees as you serve others, he is with you as you work, he is by your side as you lie awake in the darkness. As you serve, sacrifice and slog, God sees, and you are doing those things for him. He notices and he smiles, even if the world doesn’t see.
If you were to write down the verses and promises in the Bible that have helped you the most, or that you have shared the most in times of trial, I’m sure there will be many verses on that list that would point to this glorious truth of God’s presence. ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’ (Heb. 13:8). ‘Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me’ (Ps. 23:4). ‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you’ (Is. 43:2), and many more! What a deep and rich comfort to know that God is always with us. God sees your sorrows and he is present. There’s a tenderness in God’s heart towards the hurting. ‘The Lord is near to the brokenhearted’ (Ps. 34:8). Even though he knows your sins and he has seen the deepest and darkest corners of your heart, it doesn’t repulse him, he stays.
How can we be sure of the heart of this ever present God towards us, with all our failings and sorrows? Let’s remember what we learn about God when he became man, Immanuel, ‘God with us’. Jesus shows us God’s heart towards those who are hurting and failing and that is a heart of deep compassion. Instead of moving away from the sinful and hurting, he was drawn near.
In fact we don’t deserve to enjoy the intimate presence of God. We’ve chosen to forsake him and we deserve to be cast off as a result. But when Jesus died on the cross, he was the one forsaken, so that we could always know the intimacy that Christ deserves.
This also helps us with another question we often have. If God is always present, then why does he feel so distant? Picture a teenager and parent, or a husband and wife – these people can be physically close, but relationally they may be very distant. If we spend our time ignoring God’s presence, living double lives, neglecting to nurture our relationship with him and doing things that he hates, then it will be no surprise that there is a relational distance (Ps. 66:18). But there is wonderful news. If you’re reading this and longing for more of God’s felt presence, that longing is evidence of his presence with you! He is close, he is knocking at the door of your heart (Rev. 3:20). Today he is inviting you to enjoy his nearness. Don’t delay, turn to him, open the door and enjoy his joy filling presence (Ps. 16:11).