You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11)
As I look out across the room when the bell rings, I see 25 students in their seats. Yes, they are “present” on the attendance list, but are they going to be “present with me” in the lesson and discussion? Some gaze out the window in a blank stare; others look down at their phones; a couple pretend to look at me, and even smile, while texting in their pockets; a group of four continues to talk; several try to hurriedly complete homework; some are quite animated from a caffeine-fix lunch; one runs in as the bell sounds with a grand entrance; and a few are focused, waiting for the class to begin.
“ARE YOU WITH ME TODAY, CLASS?” A few heads turn. . .
Presence with focus is a very difficult combination to achieve in this age of multi-tasking and multi-sensory overload. We are constantly distracted by messages, notification beeps, keeping up with the recent Facebook posts, and the busyness of the day—yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Yet, relationships rarely progress to a deeper level when “presence with focus” is missing.
God gives the gift of His full presence, focusing on each one of us individually. David, the Psalmist, reveals this personal relationship:
1) You have searched me, LORD, and you know me.
2) You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3) You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
4) Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.
5) You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
6) Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. (Psalm 139:1-6)
We cannot fully comprehend the meaning of God-Presence, but we do know that He expects—and we should give– our full presence as we enter this relationship with Him in prayer, in communication, in devotion, and in living before Him.
“The most common Hebrew term for ‘presence’ is panim , which is also translated ‘face, ‘implying a close and personal encounter with the Lord.” ¹
(7)“Hear my voice when I call, LORD; be merciful to me and answer me. (8) My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, LORD, I will seek.” (Psalm 27:7-8)
A face-to-face encounter in a relationship is one in which emotions are not easily hidden. It is when we are more vulnerable and open, when we cannot normally delay a response, like in an email, text or message. We recognize each other’s face, and we know each other’s name. Although knowing one’s face and name can merely involve a show of recognition in an infrequent acquaintance—knowing the person’s face and name in a meaningful relationship means an awareness of his or her presence on a deeper, more personal level.
The Lord knows all our names in a very personal way:
(12) Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ (13) If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” (14) The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:12-14)
God’s presence is always with us:
God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
The important questions we have to answer:
Are we always present with Him?
Will we never leave Him , nor forsake Him?
¹ “Presence of God” http://www.biblestudytools.com
(Sharon G. Tate blog 01/17/16) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word