Once you were separated from God. The evil things you did showed your hostile attitude. But now Christ has brought you back to God by dying in his physical body. He did this so that you could come into God’s presence without sin, fault, or blame. (Colossians 1:21-22, GWT)
Sin separates; Jesus unites. Sin alienates us from God; Jesus brings us back, enabling us to enjoy his attentive presence without fault or blame.
God is Present with His Children
7Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me. (Psalm 139:7-10, ESV)
God is present with his children everywhere. When times are heavenly, he is there. When times are grave (“Sheol” is where dead people go), he is there.
Not only is he present with his children, he is attentive. “Even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” If I’m present with her, my hand on her shoulder, leading and holding her, my five-year-old daughter could cross a Walmart parking lot the Saturday before Christmas with her eyes closed. This Fatherly attentive presence is what God’s children enjoy everywhere they go.
God is Attentive with His Children
Uninterested and uninvolved parent can be as heartbreaking to a child as a totally absent one. Presence is only as valuable as the attention it carries with it. Look how attentive God is toward his children:
1O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
2You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
5You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it. (Psalm 139:1-6, ESV)
God is interested in his children.
- He searches them, like a search and rescue party searches the countryside for a lost child.
- He discerns (understands) their thoughts. The other day my wife showed me a passage in a book she was reading because it captured an emotion she had been feeling, but had been previously unable to put into words. He understands these inner thoughts perfectly.
- He searches (scrutinizes, spreads out and looks through) their paths. Like a kid with his Halloween candy, he spreads their steps before him and inspects each one.
- He knows their words before they do. Not only can he finish their sentences, he can start them!
God is involved in his children’s lives.
13For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16, ESV)
He didn’t just pull a lever, dispensing them onto a cold conveyor belt. He warmly weaved their substance and days by hand.
He is not some distant concept; he is here. He is attentive. He is interested and involved. And this is what get’s his children through the dark times.
God’s Attentive Presence Gets His Children through the Dark Times
11If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you. (Psalm 139:11-12, ESV)
God does not give his children night vision goggles so they can navigate their own way in the darkness. He gives them himself. He doesn’t help them to see, he sees for them and guides them.
His sheep can say, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil” (Psalm 23:4). Why? Because they know what lies in the shadows? Because the dangers aren’t real? No! “I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
His people can withstand “tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword” (Romans 8:35). Why? Because those things really aren’t so bad? No! “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
His children can obey the command, “do not be anxious about anything” (Philippians 4:6). How? Because they are so strong? No! “The Lord is at hand” and “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (v.5, 7).