Do you want to experience more of God and his presence?

 Personally, I can’t get enough of him. That’s understandable, because the presence of God is the atmosphere of heaven. Heaven is heaven because he’s there, not because the streets are made of gold. Every ounce of experience of his presence here on earth is a slice of heaven here and now. 

The Bible shows us from cover to cover that the God who is everywhere likes to show up somewhere. The eternal Creator delights in descending to meet with mere mortals like you and me in time, space, and place. And while God is present whether we feel him or not, the Bible is full of stories when his presence affected people and the world around them.

Ripples in a pond

Have you ever sat transfixed at the edge of a glassy lake, lost in wonder as the setting sun painted a masterpiece in its placid reflection? From time to time, fish seem to celebrate the glory by breaching the deep with a joyful leap and flop, sending a widening ripple across the surface.

When that happens, nobody says, “Ooh, look, ripples,” and then follows them outward until they die out. We notice the ripples, but our eyes are drawn inward, zeroing in on the epicentre to catch a glimpse of what caused them. “A fish just jumped,” we say. As we should.

Let’s do the same with God. When his presence causes ripples, let’s not say, “Ooh, ripples,” and chase the feeling or even the miracles. Let’s zero in more closely to the God who caused them instead. 

With that in mind, here are four ways we can become aware of his presence. As we understand these four ways, we’ll become more dialled in to how he may want to reveal himself to us in the future.

I’ll unpack the first two in this post, and follow up with a second post in a few days.

Way #1: By faith

The first and foundational way of experiencing God’s presence is through our mind as the Holy Spirit helps us marshal our thoughts towards a deepening faith. Mere belief is not enough; faith puts belief to work, in the form of active trust. Faith says, “He is everywhere, so he’s here too. I choose to live like it.” Psalm 139 reads this way:

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” (Psalm 139:7-11)

Faith prays as though God is present, engaged, holy, worthy, and gracious. It steps out depending on his empowerment. As a result, faith gives us a kind of awareness of his presence even if we don’t feel it. 

Way #2: Spiritually

 This one is hard to define, but there is a difference between believing, trusting, and knowing.

Brother Lawrence, the late monk famous for his beautiful little book, “The Practice of the Presence of God,” remarks, “I no longer believe. I see!” I understand this deeply. Many times I sit just relishing God—not feeling him, exactly—just knowing deep in my soul that he is with me. I think my spirit knows something deeper and more powerful than my mind can apprehend, and it ripples into my soul somehow.

Sometimes I become aware of God because his arrival brings a beautiful and otherworldly clarity. I have sat with people across tables in restaurants when I have felt the atmosphere shift into a heavenly kind of zone. Occasionally I’ll even say it: “Whoah. This is a holy moment.” It’s as if, as my friend Preston Morrison says, the God of the universe has just pulled up a chair to join us. 

Did this help you clarify some things? I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

I think it’s important to focus on the first two ways, by faith and spiritually, before we tackle the second two. Stay tuned for those next week!