November 3: God Is Here
This anthem has to be near the top of my favorites list. It is a declaration and a plea all at one time. The declaration has a complexity about it because, while it is a bold assertion, a joyful, faith-filled proclamation, it is also something that needs to have a hushed and humble reverence to it, for the presence of God is at the same time a thrill and a terror. Holy men the likes of Isaiah, Daniel, and John were undone by it. Moses ventured into the presence of God and trembled with fear. To declare “He is here” is to express something that is on the verge of ineffable.
As creatures in this fallen world, we will always have a dynamic tension regarding the presence of God. We crave union with Him because it was for this we were created, even if we mistakenly substitute so many lesser things in an attempt to fill that God-sized gaping hole in our souls. Those of us who are His redeemed ones are drawn to Him with intensity. We resonate to our deepest being with David’s expressed yearning to be in the Lord’s presence, to sense the light of His face shining on us, to feel His touch. When we have “tasted and seen” His great goodness, there is no longer any other thrill that can rival the way we feel when “He is here.”
But in the light of the presence of the Almighty, holy God, our creatureliness and sinfulness are exposed. We understand Isaiah’s “woe is me,” and Daniel’s quaking knees. If God did not veil Himself in our presence, we would perish. We must comprehend on some level as we proclaim His here-ness that there is a weight to His glory that would crush us if He were not so merciful to shield us. “He is here” should grip our hearts with a deep reverence, if not a holy terror.
“He is here” is also a plea. If His presence can be terrifying, the absence of it is exponentially more so. It is the very makings of Hell. People who thrust God far from themselves in this life have no concept of what an eternity without Him will be like. His presence in this world and in His people around them are a sort of insulation from the bitterly frigid barrenness of a God-emptied existence. But eternity is coming when they will face the reality of what Paul expresses about our status apart from Christ: “without God and without hope.” In this world, even the godless have hope (while there is life, there is hope), but on the other side, eternally separated from His presence, there will be none.
Do you now see why this declaration, this plea, “God is here,” is such a sacred pronouncement—such a precious, priceless truth? To be able to say this—that He is here—of our own souls, of our church assembly—is a holy utterance. While we must indeed declare it with the boldness of trust and the joy of its reality, we must also do it with humble hearts, in awe that such a privilege has been granted to us!
Let us be in prayer that we do not declare this in vain. Pray that each of us can express the presence of the Lord in our individual lives because we have sought that Presence earnestly. Then when we say, “He is here,” we are testifying of the living reality of His vital, daily reality in our own hearts. It is essential we begin here, within our very selves!
Next, let us pray that His presence will be evident in our midst as a worshiping body. Pray that, as we gather together as a local congregation, a regional faith community, and denomination, we will do so with humble and expectant hearts, consecrated and prepared to receive the presence of our Lord and King.
Pray that He will condescend to meet us in our gathering and manifest Himself to us in evident ways, not the least of which would be a tangible sense of His love flowing through us to Him and to one another, and an inexpressible joy, and awe-filled worship.
by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries