Living in God’s Presence

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to speak on separate occasions to two close Christian friends about decisions in their lives that were troubling them. Both had different things going on, but upon being asked if they had talked to God about their decisions, they both answered in the negative.

The reason?

Neither one believed God was interested in directing—or weighing in on—that area of their life.

I have to admit, after the second conversation so close to the first, I was thrown back. Because on the heels of my immediate, gut disagreement came a small, nagging doubt that whispered in my ear, “Maybe you’re a bit too zealous. Maybe you over-spiritualize too much.”

It made me stop to think. And pray. And search. My questions included:

Why do we try to divorce the spiritual from the natural? The eternal from the temporal? Why do we believe that any circumstance or decision that involves us doesn’t also involve the Spirit who lives inside of us?

Why do we compartmentalize our lives and assume God only wants us to surrender control of a portion?

Why do we compartmentalize our lives and assume God only wants us to surrender control of a portion? Click To Tweet

Every decision that plays out on the temporal stage echoes in the halls of eternity. In David Pawson’s De-Greecing the Church series he delves into the natural vs. spiritual mindset, explaining that the Jews didn't have this problem. To them, all life was spiritual. Even down to having a prayer for bathroom breaks.

Micro-manager or Master of All?

I'm convinced that the Christian life—though not micromanaged by God—is aimed toward a reality where every breath is taken aware of God’s presence. A reality where every breath is taken with the aim of absolute surrender and submission.

If this were not possible, Paul would not say, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Always. Without ceasing. In everything. These words leave no room for compartmentalizing.

If a life lived in this way were not possible, Paul would not tell us to imitate him as he imitates Christ. This is the Christ who said, “I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” John 5:19

Understanding vs. Surrender

Maybe we don’t really have trouble understanding what the Bible says on the issue. Maybe we understand it a little too well. If we believe a lie instead, and convince ourselves that God is only interested in certain areas of life, then we can continue to live as king in the others.

What I know for sure is that I make a horrible imitation king and my true king once said not even a bird can fall from the sky outside of His Father's care. So, are there compartments in my life that remain outside of God’s kingship? Outside of his care?

Not if I’m understanding him correctly.

Brother Lawrence, whose collection of letters we now know as Practicing the Presence of God, said “There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with God; those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it.”

Always. Without ceasing. In everything.

In answer to that nagging whisper:

We are not surrendered enough. We are not submitted enough. We are not zealous enough.

God deserves everything.


Join the conversation:

What does your nagging voice say?

P.S. (Follow the link in Brother Lawrence's quote to access a free e-book download of Practicing the Presence of God.)


 

31 thoughts on “Living in God’s Presence”

  1. I really can relate to your blog today. I am amazed at how many people don’t want to bother God with things. Then, I too can question my zeal for God but He holds everything in His hands. Where else can I go? More People need to realize God wants to be involved in every decision and every thought we have, He loves us that much

  2. You’re spot on in this blog post, but I wonder if we don’t bring God into things because we don’t trust He’ll answer? Or maybe we don’t know how to discern the answer? I know that is my struggle. I pray about most everything, but there are times when I simply cannot hear the Shepherd’s voice, or I don’t trust my ability to hear. Then I second guess myself. Maybe that is not so uncommon? In our distracted world, to me at least, it’s getting hard to hear my Lord. I even take times of silence seriously – and it’s still hard to know with certainty. So, that is my struggle, and it could be at the root of the “divorce between the natural and supernatural.” If we can’t discern between the two, the ‘natural’ inclination (pun intended) is to defer to tangible things. It’s not the best choice, but it’s honest.

    1. I love this answer Lisa because it speaks to the second half of this blog post…the half that didn’t get published. The half that I thought was too boring and too long to include. Ooh I have thoughts on this and I can’t wait to share them with you! I know oh how I know that doubt. My big struggle is with vacillation. And with the fact that it’s hard to do the right thing when you’re not sure what the right thing is. So much of life falls in the gray. Thank you for your transparency.

  3. Thank you Stephanie – you bring an interesting lesson and a tough question.

    I love this part where you say “aimed toward a reality where every breath is taken aware of God’s presence. A reality where every breath is taken with the aim of absolute surrender and submission.” Wow. I’ve sung words about God knowing every hair on my head and not even considered that he knows every breath that I take and that I could devote each breath to Him.

    As for the nagging voice. I think it says Not Always. With frequent ceasing, Not in everything. – thank you for the challenge

    1. Thank you for your encouragement, Bob. I heard a preacher give the analogy once that life lived in God’s presence is like being on the phone with your best friend. You talk constantly until one of your kids walks up and asks for a snack. Then you say, “Hold on a sec, have to open this bag of chips.” And as soon as the chips are open, you’re back on the phone, your concentration back on the conversation. I loved that analogy. It really impacted me and made me realize that every moment could be lived in awareness. Not that I always live that way. That’s why I said, “aimed toward…” I’m aiming toward it by the grace of God.

  4. Oh Stephanie, your stirred my soul with this post.
    I still feel a small sting from a close family member who once told me I took my faith in God a little too seriously, so I too have looked at myself and wondered. Though I love the Lord, I know I have more to give and more to enjoy as I seek His presence more. This is one of my daily prayers, that God will give me a seeker’s heart with increasing measure. That my prayers and Bible reading will leave me wanting more. I do indeed pray that my connection with God comes as naturally as my breath, as you have written about here. Yes, Lord, yes! Help me to live this way.

    1. Melissa, it encourages me that this spoke to you. Your writing is full of seeking after God and I can see your desire for him shining through. Thank you for telling me about your experience, that builds up my own faith as well.

  5. Dear Stephanie!

    I loved what you said about over-spiritualize too much. I’m not saying you did that in this case, but I see many do that too much, and it’s a sure way to disconnect with those we should connect with the most.

    Thanks,
    Edna Davidsen

    1. Edna,

      That reminds me of what one of my favorite people once said. He said, “some people are so Heavenly minded that they’re no earthly good.” 😂 And he was the most obvious, loving Christian I knew. The first time I met him, I knew he was a Christian. But he always connected with people.

  6. Yes! Fresh insight, Stephanie. Not only do I get a whisper about over-spiritualizing everything, but friends and family have actually said it to me out loud. And like you, I came to the conclusion that I don’t. God wants us to go to Him and let Him help us in everything and every decision. Because in the end…

    “We are not surrendered enough. We are not submitted enough. We are not zealous enough.

    God deserves everything.”

    Amen and Amen!

  7. I love this! I often feel like I want to connect the ordinary with God (as seen daily on my website!), but there are times when I also fear what others will think. While we need to ensure we’re talking with people in such a way to help them understand a spiritual mindset, I definitely agree that it’s good to talk about these “God things” with others no matter our fears of what they might think. We aren’t in communication with God enough. We’re not coming to Him with all things. And He desires that. He cares about everything in our lives! Thanks for this reminder to be bold. 🙂

    1. And thank you for your comment, Emily. Until you said that, I wouldn’t have viewed it as being bold mainly because on the inside I feel very ‘un’ bold. I love your point that we need to ensure we’re talking with people in such a way as to help them understand a spiritual mindset. That’s a good thought to meditate on.

  8. This one hits close to home. I’ve had the same conversation with people in my life, whether we should pray about particular things.
    On the one hand, submitting my entire life to God in prayer is something to aim for. It is hard enough submitting the big things to him let alone the minutia of my day. But I know that I can’t withhold any part of my life. If God hasn’t touched every part, then there’s always a part of me that either doesn’t trust him or is actively rebelling.
    On the other hand, it brings up the question around what it means to pray. The nuances of prayer are tough to comprehend. Am I praying when I’m thinking about God? Do I literally have to have a brain conversation with God when I’m wondering what to say in a conversation with my friend or at the ballot box? Or is a life of continuous prayer one of submission and surrender where I naturally conform to God’s will? Do I more naturally execute God’s desires in my life when I’m more submitted and surrendered? These are tough questions.
    Thanks for the truth this morning. Your last line got me–I am not surrendered enough. If there’s one thing I know for sure, it is that.

    1. Chip, I love these tough questions and I think there may be many different answers because we all communicate in different ways so it would be only natural that we all communicate with God in different ways. And I love that thought of “do I naturally execute God’s desires in my life when I’m more submitted and surrendered?” Thanks for bringing these thoughts to the discussion!

  9. I am in this Freedom group at my church, and this week we were talking about the power of words. The first sentence of the reading said something along the lines of our words (and thus our actions) show how much of our life we have surrendered to God. And this is so true. Jesus didn’t come to save a little bit of us, He came to save all of us and all within us!

  10. Compartmentalizing is such a common practice, isn’t it? You are totally on target. Living in God’s presence is an every breath activity. I get that, but it’s still hard to remember and live that way. I make so many decisions every day without talking to God about them or even considering Him in the process. Thank you for this reminder.

    1. Reading your answer made me think of my husband. Like in the way that so many of my daily decisions impact him so I now say, “I have to see what my husband thinks” or “I’ll check with my husband” first where if I were single, I’d just make the decision. I wonder if that’s another way the marriage relationship parallels God and the church. Thanks for getting me to think even more about the subject, Stephen.

  11. It is exactly this thought that led my husband to enter the ministry. As a teenager, he was at a youth service in Israel and the leader asked them to give over a portion of their life to God. He thought, I could spend my whole life giving over my life piece by piece. I really need to give over my entire life. Right now.

  12. I’m moved by your thoughts here today, Stephanie! God truly needs to be my focus for worship, perspective, guidance, power and love. I’m also intrigued by the book you mentioned by Pawson. I love him, his writing and ministry (and am lifting him up in his recent cancer diagnosis). I’ll have to check this book out for more food on the thoughts you’ve whet my appetite for here today. Nice to meet you!

    1. Nice to meet you as well, Beth. Your site messymarriage.com is a huge encouragement, I’m happy to have you over here. I wasn’t aware the Pawson received a cancer diagnosis. Thank you for saying that, I will be praying for him as well. You can find all of his teachings through his website and also almost everything on Youtube! Thanks for reading.

  13. Great questions and answers! God cares about every part of our life. And yes, it’s wonderful to walk every moment with him.
    I agree that one of the reasons we don’t do that is because we want to hold back something from God. However, I agree with Lisa Quintana that sometimes the reason is that we don’t even realize that this is possible, or that we don’t know how to distinguish God’s voice. Part of the reason for that can be that we just haven’t been into the meat of the word enough yet, or in some cases we may have been taught incorrectly by some well-meaning person(s) who didn’t understand it themselves.

    1. Ruth, this is a valid point. Sometimes I’m astounded by the errors I have believed because I was taught that by a well-meaning person. Also, getting past the milk and into the meat does open up more truths that we weren’t ready for before. Thank you for your insight.

      1. Thank you for writing this. It is very important that we consider this, as we are not walking in His will in all things when we don’t have Him as our first love.

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