God Is Here
God Is Here is my all-time favorite choir anthem. I never tire of it, and it transports me to worship every time I hear or sing it. As I came to write this devotional, I was trying to grasp just what it is that grips me so much about this song, and I think it really just comes down to the fact that the most thrilling times of my life have been in the presence of God. So, when we declare that “He is here,” it is an invitation to open our hearts to the breathtaking reality that God has chosen to make His presence real to His people. He is with us, and often in manifest ways.
God has promised us that when two or three people are gathered in His name, He is in our midst. The question is, when we gather together, whether it is just the two or three or an entire congregation, do we come expecting to experience His presence? He is here—He has promised—do we come to acknowledge and experience that truth? Is that our regular expectation? Is that our common experience? The fact is when we don’t come together expecting His presence, it lowers the probability of experiencing it. If it were announced that God was going to present Himself at a certain time and place, and we were invited to come, assured that He would manifest Himself, what would our anticipation of that event be? Would we come to the venue excited, maybe even trembling? But He has promised that! Are we coming in faith that He will keep His word?
While there are only a few recorded events in the Scripture of God’s presence being so tangible that it was manifest in a cloud or fire, there have been countless times where God’s people have recorded experiences of the tangible presence of God in their midst. Yes, sometimes God displays that presence far beyond our expectations, but still it is important that we come together as His body and have some expectancy that we will meet with Him, because this is what His Word says. Without that expectancy and faith, we will probably not experience Him, even if others around us are.
This is not to say that we come together seeking “experiences,” or with set expectations of what God’s presence will look like at any given gathering, but we should come with an expectancy of meeting with God in meaningful ways, bringing our prepared, open, God-seeking hearts.
One of the reasons God is present when two or three of His people are gathered is because each of us are unique reflections of Him and His grace. My husband and I were speaking with friends who are in the throes of grief for a son who died recently. While God is meeting them in their sorrow, it is still a very emotionally raw time. Nevertheless, they are still able to minister out of their pain to other friends suffering a similar loss about how God was bringing that process of healing in their lives. Each of us has individual encounters with God and the ways He meets us in our need, in our pain, and even in our repentance. Even though the sum total of our pain and our encounters with God are unique, there is enough that is common with other believers that we can become conduits of God’s grace and healing, and testify of the hope, goodness and power which the His Holy Spirit has ministered to us. Those who God has brought through their valleys, those still on that journey, and those who have yet to lay down the burdens they carry at His feet all come together. It is in this atmosphere of expectancy, gratitude, mutual need and love, that the Spirit of God manifests Himself in ways that cause us to take note that He Is Here!
We must ask ourselves: When is it we have most felt the presence of God in the assembly of His people? Is this a rare occurrence? If so, why? How often do we experience His presence in our worship as a congregation? How often in private worship? Do we desire to encounter His presence? Do we expect to? Is there anything we can do to cultivate and prepare for His presence, whether corporately or privately? These are important questions to ponder before the Lord, because the answers may well bring us to the place where we can more readily and frequently experience the joys portrayed in this anthem.
While any answers I might suggest to these questions would take more than the space allowed in this article, a very good place to start—an essential place to begin—is by praying that the Lord would lead us in the answers—asking Him to “speak” to us—asking that He would increase our desire, our expectancy, and our capacity for His presence. He desires to meet with us so is eager for us to desire it, as well. We should pray that He will teach us how to prepare ourselves before assembling with other believers, or even coming before Him in our private times of seeking Him. We should ask Him to help us be more aware of the moving of the Spirit and to quickly respond in obedience, and to be conscious of both receiving His presence in the words and lives of fellow believers, and being that conduit of His presence to the lives of spiritual siblings. May we know and declare that He Is Here!