A few years ago I heard a surprising definition of the word, “circumstances”. Circumstances means “standing around”. Hmmmm. Interesting. The more I thought about it, the more I understood its meaning. Circumstances are those things that are standing so close to us they block our view of God. They crowd in until all you can see are the circumstances around you.
The problem, of course, is when we lose sight of God, we forget he is in control.
How close are your circumstances that are pressing in? Are those all the only things you can see?
In Jesus’ day there were those who wore sackcloth and tore their clothes to show anguish at difficult circumstances. They walked around for all to see their distress. Contrast this with the priests who were forbidden to tear their clothes. The difference lies in a privilege accorded only to the priests. None but the high priest knew what it was to stand in the presence of God in the Holy Place. Only the priests had direct access to God’s presence.
Now compare his privilege of access with his responsibility not to tear his robes. The lesson is clear: Someone who has access to the immediate presence of God has no reason to give into fear and despair. There is no reason to panic. To do so implies God is not intimately, creatively, and redemptively involved in our lives.
Someone who has access to the immediate presence of God has no reason to give into fear and despair.
But we have that same immediate access to God’s presence! This is our reality in Christ: No matter how forceful our circumstances push in or how messy life gets, we can experience the ongoing nearness and availability of Christ as an ever-present help in our time of need! God is not “out there” with us trying to get him to move and act on our behalf.
What we often lack is an awareness of his movement in our lives. Yet, this awareness should be our normal reality and end goal of our faith. When we talk about a “relationship” with Jesus; this is it. Without an awareness of God’s presence, however, we are subject to all kinds of assaults that tear at our souls.
What we often lack is an awareness of his movement in our lives.
When we are aware of God’s presence and present work in our lives, like I said yesterday, this is when things like peace, comfort, strength, courage, and the like, pours into our lives. These things don’t make any sense in light of our present circumstances. We cannot produce these things on your own, but we can cultivate our hearts to receive them.
So how do we cultivate an awareness of God’s active presence? We are going to need to refocus our eyes. It has a lot to do with where we put our attention. The good news is there are actual practices that keep us awake to God’s present work in our lives. They are practices that keep us sane. Those are for tomorrow.