Posted in Faith, Servant Leadership

Seeing God in our Midst

hurricane-earth-satellite-tracking

I wake up with a start. I had wanted to get some extra much-needed sleep after an intense week but something has roused me from slumber. Not something, but someone. Actually someones. I slowly focus on two precious faces, their large brown eyes framed by long lashes, their smiles lighting their up their countenances with eagerness. In that moment I am aware of a choice. I can respond to the inconvenience of being awakened too early on my only day to sleep in. Or I can see God in my midst. What will I do?

I adjust my mind and enjoy the blessing of my five-year-old granddaughters. They crawl in bed and cuddle with me, chatting freely about the things that concern them. Almost as suddenly as it began, I am alone in bed again and the sweet girls are off and running. The sacredness of the moment lingers and gratitude fills my heart.

How often have I missed these opportunities, because I didn’t see God in my midst. Too much of my life has been spent in pursuit of a well-structured, tidy, productive, comfortable life. Anything else has escaped my attention.

It’s all too easy to keep God confined to my mental box. I often allow divine appointments to pass me by. However, I am learning to pause, to look with different eyes in hopes of seeing Him.

I can see God in the face of my grandchildren. That isn’t much of a stretch. I also believe that every person I come across is a divine appointment, whether rich or poor, whether their lives are neatly put together or they are struggling, broken, in chaos. I love seeing God in our midst as I share the Gospel in actions and words. However, there are also times when I am ministering to someone in need, and they say something in conversation that catches my attention. They are unaware, but the Lord uses their words to impart His wisdom or encouragement to me.

Seeing God in the midst of disappointment, traumatic events, and natural disasters is more challenging. But it is possible. There is no situation that we face where He is not present.

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
~Psalm 46:1-3, NIV

Several years ago I had a vivid dream. My family and I were climbing on some rock formations near the turbulent ocean. A storm began to rage, and we tried to reach safety in the fortress at the top of the rocks. The rest of my family was secure, but I lagged behind carrying my youngest daughter and knew I wouldn’t make it. A tidal wave formed in front of me, and I cried out in desperation, “Jesus!” Instantly Jesus appeared towering in the wave. He stepped forward and placed us in the fortress, as the wave crashed directly below us. As the scene closed, a large choir declared these words in the background.

Lift up your heads, you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is he, this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty—
he is the King of glory.
~Psalm 24:7–10

The Lord’s presence remained with me for many hours, and the memory of this dream continues to strengthen me in the midst of life’s turbulence.

Our God is the most awesome and all powerful King. He is ever-present in every situation. He is perfect love and delights when we recognize Him. There is nothing more sustaining to our minds and souls than seeing God in our midst.

The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth (Psalm 145:18).

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You that You are always present in my life. Sometimes You are mighty and powerful. Sometimes You speak in a still, small voice. Please help me to see You in the midst of the every day, ordinary situations, and in the midst of circumstances that threaten my well-being. Strengthen me to be still and know that You are God. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Advertisements
Posted in Faith

Finding God in our Midst

finding God

Good things happen to good people. Bad things happen to bad people. Obviously these statements aren’t true. But do you ever wish life’s situations could be neatly and simply categorized? What if, God only brings blessings to the righteous? What if, the devil only brings curses to those far from God? It would settle, at least in part, the age-old philosophical quest for why there is evil in the world. And living right would guarantee that we experience only good things. Unfortunately there are no such guarantees.

Thankfully it is possible to experience peace that surpasses understanding while in the midst of struggles. Unlike Eastern religion that seeks to eliminate the illusion of suffering, Jesus Christ not only acknowledges suffering, He addresses it head on by giving Himself. He promises to be with us in the midst of suffering, and He is faithful.

These days when friends ask me how I am doing, I no longer answer, “Fine.” My reply is generally, “Up and down with Jesus in the midst of it all.” It’s honest, and it expresses the truth. I don’t have to hide behind a smile. Whether the circumstances of my life are good, bad, or ugly, the presence of Jesus is with me.

The 23rd Psalm paints a beautiful picture of the Lord’s presence. He is with me when things are running smoothly and I enjoy great blessings.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.

My Shepherd is just as near when things take a turn for the worse.

Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

He is with me when facing the darkest valley of death or the hateful threats of enemies. His presence dispels all fear and surrounds me with comfort. He takes care of me, providing the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

No matter what I encounter, God’s goodness and love are present. He is always with me. Lest I forget, there is more than just this life. I look forward to being with Him forever in His house.

There is absolutely nothing that can thwart the love of Christ. His loving presence continually flows toward us. We forget. We erect barriers. But He is constant. He is with us.

Friend, no matter what difficulties you may encounter, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and His precious love for you. He is Emmanuel, God with us. Right here. Right now. And always.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithfulness. Thank You for being near and walking with me every moment of every day. Strengthen me when I’m weak and can’t see You at work in my life. Help me to trust You and to sense Your presence even in the darkness, knowing that You have defeated the enemy of my soul. Let Your hope and peace arise in my heart, as I acknowledge Your faithfulness. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.