43 – How to Sense the Presence of God (Part II)
Sensing the presence of God remains one of the most frequent concerns we hear. “The moment of humility” is an idea that came to me one morning as I was seeking a greater sense of God’s presence for my own life. I pray it will open you to the possibility of more intimacy with the One who loves us.
THE MOMENT OF HUMILITY
One idea to “sense the presence of God” is to set aside some time each day to be with Him until you experience “the moment of humility.” Every seeker of true communion and worship should thirst each day for a moment of humility with God. The moment of humility is an instant of personal, existential experience with the living Lord. It is pressing, pleading, and pining for the personal reality of God to be manifest in your life. Its object is a renewal of failth in God and a fresh dependence on the Holy Spirit.
This moment comes from considering two things – our own mortality and the awesome nature of God – and moreso the latter. We contemplate God through prayer, Bible reading, singing, journaling our thoughts, or meditation upon the wonders of creation. We say, “I will not yield to any ordinary day. I will stay with God until by contemplating Him I am struck with a moment of awe, of transcendence, of being overwhelmed, of sensing a deep gratitude, of a desire to praise and worship.”
This moment is an instant of clarity. The heavens briefly open and we see God in a larger way. Then the veil closes back, but we have changed. It is a moment of insight. It is a gaze at his majestic holiness, a glimpse of the perfection of his beauty. And then it is gone. But the fading memory of it clings to us until tomorrow when, again, we come to Him seeking once more to be humbled by His greatness, His goodness, and His love.
A moment of humility may come upon us as an overwhelming “heaviness,” a spine-tingling insight into a passage of Scripture, a godly sorrow at seeing the “gravity” our own sinfulness, feeling the weight of God’s love, a warm embrace by the Holy Spirit, the release of bitterness, or the joy of forgiving someone who has hurt us. You may experience the moment of humility by staring into the evening sky, by looking at a picture of your children, by recalling how much your spouse has blessed you, or remembering how God has provided. You may weep or feel a squirt of adrenaline.
Let me give an example. One day I experienced the moment of humility while twisting my brain over what every child has pondered: gravity. In the early hour before dawn I was in my backyard gazing into the twinkling lights. I was sitting in a favorite chair perched atop a huge globe 25,000 miles in circumference spinning at 1000 miles per hour. Though traveling 1000 mph, if you jump up you land in same place. Why is that?
If a plane travels with the spin of the earth at 500 miles per hour, why doesn’t the plane go 1500 miles per hour, or does it? Or, if the plane goes against the earth’s rotation, why doesn’t the plane go backwards 500 miles per hour, or does it? Or, if you hovered in a helicopter, why doesn’t the earth disappear beneath you at 1000 miles per hour? The effect on me was simple. Notwithstanding Einstein’s explanation, I broke out it exultation and praise to God for the mysteries and excellencies of His creation. It was, for me, the moment of humility that released me to the rest of my day.
Let me give another example. A visiting preacher mentioned that “seven” is the perfect number and “ten” signifies completeness. The following week I was again sitting in our backyard before daybreak when suddenly out of the corner of my eye I saw a streak of light. It’s a meteor! I realized. After five minutes I saw another and my soul leaped. Minutes later I caught a glimpse of a third meteor and thought, No, it’s a meteor shower! Then came a fourth, a fifth, and a sixth! By now it was time to go and get ready for work, but I remembered that the preacher said seven is the perfect number. So, I selfishly prayed, Lord, it would be such a kindness to me if I could see a seventh shooting star as a sign of your perfection.
After five minutes I was about to give up and go inside. Just then, not one, but two shooting stars fell side by side like a fireworks display. It was as though God said, Pat, I am not merely perfect, I am more than perfect.
Now I had a dilemma. Eight is not that far from ten, the “complete” number. So I prayed again, Lord, forgive me this silly request, but if it would be possible would you reveal yourself to me symbolically as complete? Over the next several minutes numbers nine and ten fell from the morning sky. I praised God for His perfection and completeness, then wrote this poem before I went to work:
God wore His stars like a dazzling necklace this morning.
Little pebbles of diamond fire,
Sparkling with the beauty of His holiness.
Then a meteor shower painted the sky,
Baby stars diving from their nests.
There’s another! And three and four, now five.
Six streaky ribbons dance across the stage of the darkened sky.
I think of perfect seven. Like fireworks,
Two more glowy trails cascade side by side,
As if to say God is not perfect,
but more than perfect.
It was for me an exquisite moment of humility.
Personally, I have come to a point in my life that I am not willing to leave my quiet place until that moment of humility has come each day. I find that “moment” is the thing that fills me to overflow in my relationship with Christ. It is a spiritual feast. It is an encounter with the God who is.
THE DARK SIDE OF TECHNOLOGY
The GE Carousel of Progress at Disney World chronicles the extraordinary ways in which technology has improved our lives. Wonderful to a point. Yet there is a dark side to technology (this is Neil Postman’s term).
One morning I was sitting in my office at home writing on my computer. A vague, ambiguous feeling, Something isn’t quite right, kept nudging at that membrane which divides conscious from subconscious thoughts. I paused to see if I could coax the thought to poke through.
We live on a lake with lots of wild life, especially osprey, ducks, and herons. Suddenly, it dawned on me. Because of the whir made by the computer’s fan motor, I couldn’t hear the osprey screeching, the ducks quacking, or the herons squawking any more.
Frankly, I’m not willing to give up my technology, but it is somehow a sad a price to pay. I’m praying they will come out with louder birds!
THE NEED FOR TODAY
Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater. The pleasures of technology are as much a gift from God as a quiet beach. On the other hand, we need to strike a balance between our pace and our peace. We need times to restore our souls.
Set aside fifteen minutes tomorrow morning to search for a moment of humility before God. Try one or more of the following…
Read a passage of scripture (try Psalm 91 or Isaiah 55). Meditate on the truth of the verses, then pray these truths back to God in the form of a prayer.
Take a walk outside and look with new eyes at the world around you. Meditate on the beauty and intricacy of God’s creation. Praise God for what you see. Reflect on what it means about God’s character and your place in His plan.
Before anyone else in the house wakes up, get a photo album of family pictures and glance through it. As a picture catches your eye, thank God for his blessings in your life. Take time to pray for those you see in the pictures. Remember where you have been, the things that God is teaching you, and the hope you have for the future.
Business leader, author, and speaker, Patrick Morley helps men to think more deeply about their lives, to be reconciled with Christ, and to be equipped for a larger impact on the world.
© 1997. Patrick M. Morley. All rights reserved.