The Lord Is In This Place
God is present, nearby, and accessible every day and in every aspect of life.
Does God ever feel distant from you? Do you find there are times when you struggle to find Him in your life? You are not alone. All of us struggle at times, deeply yearning to be closer to Him.
We may struggle to take Him along with us on Monday when we return to work. Is He the Master of Sunday, or all seven days per week?
God doesn’t want us to seek Him in the dark.
In this editorial, we will suggest that evidence exists to assure our hearts that God is present, nearby, and accessible every day and in every aspect of life. Further, He understands our need for assurance and provides us with evidence of His surrounding love. He doesn’t want us to seek Him in the dark.
David learned through all of his trials that wherever he found himself, God was with him. Whether hiding in a cave, running for his life, or facing the giant on the battlefield–God was his only abiding place. He writes:
This was a great lesson for David. Through all his life’s intense victories and disappointments, he knew that God’s presence was with him. When his great sin with Bathsheba and Uriah was exposed, David’s plea was that God would “cast me not away from thy presence.” (Psa 51:11).
Indeed, God reassured Joshua that as he succeeded Moses, “I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Josh. 1:5. The writer to the Hebrews picks up on this at the sunset of the Jewish age, just before the destruction of the Temple by the Romans. There would need to be a new way of thinking about the holy place and a new way to contemplate sacrifices. The Jewish world would indeed be turned upside down, but God provided great assurance to faithful believers.
Or, as the Emphatic Diaglott translates,
“No, I will not leave thee, no, no, I will not forsake thee.”
The temple that God chooses to dwell in was never intended to be a stone and wood structure but rather within the soft, malleable hearts of men and women. Paul, drawing from Leviticus 26:12-13, demonstrated to the Corinthians how God desired to dwell with believers:
It might serve us to review a few Scriptures that “operationalize” how this happens in our modern lives. How does God dwell with us? How might we know His presence? How can we see Him in all aspects of our lives?
Let’s first admit that we have a feeble comprehension of how God works in our lives until well after events occur. We are often blind to the actions of the angels. If we knew all their countless ministrations for us, we would be greatly assured of His loving presence.
William Law (1686–1761), in A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, wrote:
Could you see all that which God sees, all that happy chain of causes and motives which are to move and invite you to a right course of life, you would see something to make you like that state you are in as fitter for you than any other. But as you cannot see this, so it is here that your Christian faith and trust in God is to exercise itself and render you as grateful and thankful for the happiness of your state as if you saw that everything that contributes to it with your own eyes.
As we look back on life, we see evidence of His presence. We discern how we were brought to our present circumstance, what we learned from experiences, and how our faith was tried, but increased. It is a profitable review, and it gives us a level of assurance. It is similar to Jacob declaring about Bethel, “Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.” (Gen 28:16).
But is this what is meant by having God as our dwelling place? A dwelling place should be an active, present benefit. It is a place where one can take refuge during the storm, not only reflecting on it afterward.
This is my challenge, and I suspect many others may share this dilemma. I long to “see” God right before my eyes. Is this even possible?
The Lord Jesus spoke of how he and his Father would dwell with believers. It helps us to understand better the relationship they desire with us.
Now that’s what I am looking for. Not an after-the-fact relationship, where I can see the Father and Son were once present by certain developments in my life, but one where I have confidence they are with me right now. How can I get there?
Bro. Harry Tennant wrote in The Christadelphian Magazine in 1969 about this concept of God being at home with us.
God at home with us! How marvelously condescending is this picture of the work of God and His Son! If then we find this complex life of tensions and pressure a source of distress and of uncertainty, let us learn the lesson of living with God and see Him in every room of our lives, in every part of the day, through every window and door. So it was with Jesus who, having no permanent abode, no established residence, was more surely based than any man who has ever lived, and dwelt always with God, and God with him.
That’s what I long for.
In human relationships, we long for affection, love, and acceptance expressions. We operate best when we are assured that our spouse or close friends love and care for us. God understands this need. To confirm to us, He provides evidence of how the Father and Son dwell with us.
Jesus is not waiting at a distance for the Judgment, keeping a record of our good and evil deeds. Instead, he is right in the house! Any chastening needed he provides today to help conform us to his image now. If we keep the commandments, if we love Jesus, and if we love our brother, Jesus will progressively manifest himself to us. If we want to know whether we are dwelling with God, we need to assess how committed we are to these behaviors today.
The Apostle John seems focused on this concept of God dwelling with us through the Son.
In many of his writings, Paul also wrote about the dwelling of Jesus in the lives of believers. To the Romans, Paul said:
This passage is critical to understanding how God dwells with us. The evidence we are looking for is the quickening by the Spirit—the witness of the activity of the power of God in our lives. It represents a transforming mind that eschews unrighteous works and clings to the righteousness of God.
That state of mind is not just because we willed it or had some unique spiritual strength. It is because the all-powerful and living God is fully active in us. Any transformation of our thinking and discernment is due to the Father’s power in our lives.
Paul used a financial phrase to describe the assurance that our spiritual relationship provides us.
The financial phrase is the word “earnest.” Earnest money is a deposit a purchaser makes to hold the possession until it is fully claimed. We might think of it today as a promissory note. This deposit is lost in many places if the possession is not paid for in full.
The Greek word for “earnest” is arrabon, which is of Phoenician origin. It is used in literature for an engagement ring. This carries the edifying picture of a bride gazing at an engagement ring on her finger, being assured her groom has promised to be one with her. This image is a marvelous way for us to think about the promise of the Spirit. Paul calls it the “earnest expectation” we have as we wait for the manifestation of being sons of God. (Rom 8:19).
In Ephesians, he calls it the “earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession.” (Eph 1:14). While we are waiting for the redemption of our body, we have a guarantee, a promissory note that we can examine. As we see the Spirit working in our lives today, it is as if we are looking at an engagement ring on our finger, reminding us of the surety that we will be redeemed.
So, how can we see our God and the Lord Jesus, as Bro. Tennant suggested, “through every window and door?” Here are a few tangible signs that God is working in our lives. Each sends you a clear message that you are being redeemed.
You have a determination to change for the better. It is your commitment to leave ungodly behaviors behind and to pursue God’s righteousness. This attitude doesn’t mean you won’t fail, but it means you are in a committed relationship.
The Lord is bringing people into your life to help you improve. This insertion might include those who are there to reinforce your positive behaviors, as well as those who chasten you to change behaviors.
People can see you are changing. We tend to be poor judges of our own behaviors and motives. When others see transformation in our lives, it indicates the Lord’s hand is operating. We no longer burst out in anger. We show love and compassion to people with very different perspectives.
You have joy in your walk with God. You are not operating out of compulsion or a sense of obligation but because serving God and our Lord Jesus Christ and serving our fellow man brings you boundless joy. See Bro. Russ Patterson’s exhortation “The Joy of Living in Christ” in the September 2023 edition of the Tidings.
Despite the barrage of challenges you face, your vision of the Kingdom and personal purpose and direction are clear. Difficult individual choices may challenge you, but the governing fundamentals for those decisions have no ambiguity.
You have a humble, teachable, and soft heart. Our Lord can shape you and refine your thinking. You are open to loving rebukes and constructive comments from loving brothers and sisters, recognizing that you need their help.
Our God wants us to know that He is present.
You can discern opportunities to serve that open in front of you–whether planned or unplanned. We are responsive to those cues because, in prayer, we have been asking for our Lord to make our way plain and use us in his service.
Our God wants us to know that He is present. We are told to draw near. (Heb 10:22). We must never consider our God inaccessible, removed, or uninterested. For through His Son, He offers to make His home with us. Why should we ever be afraid when we have the Father and Son in our home?
And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. (Heb 3:5-6).