God is always with us

Sometimes He just doesn’t seem to be around.
But God has said: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, Deut. 31:6&8). Jesus put it this way: “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Math. 28: 20)

Sometimes I feel totally alone.
Life here on earth in this age is often tough.  Good times come, but so do hard times.  At times God seems far away.  We can feel so totally alone.

Nature is beautiful but certainly seems indifferent at times.
I can recall times I was alone out in God’s beautiful creation: Hiking up Tahquitz Peak, exploring dark Oregon woods, getting a pounding while body surfing at Laguna Beach.  Nature is beautiful, yes, but it can feel so indifferent.  It’s like those trees, streams, meadows, and ocean waves don’t really care about you and me.

Hiking down was the problem.
I was on a hike with Christian friends up San Gorgonio mountain in Southern California.  It was a long, hard climb to the top.  After several hours and near the top, my breath was coming in gasps.  But we made it and spent the night in our tents and sleeping bags.  Good fun.  But the next day I got into  trouble.

A few hours of pain.
You see my hiking boots were a little bit go big for me, so as I trotted down the trail, my feet kept slipping in them.  My toes repeatedly slammed against the inner tip of those boots.  Soon my toe nails were bruised and sharp pains shot up legs, but I kept descending.  After about a couple hours that way, my friends took my backpack off my shoulders and carried it for me.  That helped.

Out of water and nearly out of strength.
My canteen ran dry. The hike down the mountain was that long.  I was becoming dehydrated and exhausted.  God seemed far away and reachable.  My pain was my reality.

Finally a drink.
Then at the bottom, I came across this lovely, narrow and deep, rushing mountain stream of ice-cold water.  I thanked God, tears in my eyes, and knew He had been with me that whole time.  I knelt and dipped my canteen cup and took a long, refreshing drink.  I didn’t care that it wasn’t pop or fruit juice.  It tasted wonderful.

It doesn’t depend on how we feel.
God is always near, always there for us.  His presence does not depend on us being able to feel that He is there.  It can be discouraging to go by feelings, to give priority to them.  Much better to focus on facts, what God’s Word says–and believe.  The feeling may come then or later. It may not come any time soon.  But those verses are true. Always.

The Throne of Grace is always available.
“Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16. With faith, hope, and better yet love for God, we can always enter in.

One more point…

It’s like that when God speaks to us too.
Of course I don’t mean in an audible voice–at least for me, not yet!  But He can enlighten me in that deep, intuitive part of my mind, with fresh insights and recall key verses.  His voice, like a true gentleman, is quiet, insistent but always gentle.

Hebrews 4:7: “…Today if you hear His voice…” God is speaking today.  He never sleeps, doesn’t need to.  His Holy Spirit is the essence of positive, limitless, creative energy, constantly ready to speak and to bless and to enable us to serve and bless others.

But are we ready to hear?
“Be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18.)
“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25. )

An awesome prayer…
Paul prayed for the Ephesians believers: “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him…that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will  know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe…” (Ephesians 1:17-19).

May we pray for one another.
May that be our prayer for each other too.  And may we walk with God and learn in our experience that He is always there, that we can always count on Him.

View from the Twilight Years

So I’m a month and a half from age 70, and what have I learned from my life as a Christian? If, say, I were now on my death bed–and thank God I am not!–what lessons would I seek to share with my grandchildren?

Number 1: God is faithful
I have seen many tough times, troubles, hard places when the future looked dark and foreboding. I have known despair and fear and have felt like giving up, and not just one time. But in His own way and with His own timing God has always come through and rescued me out of the trouble, the danger, the hopeless-looking situation. Time after time. He never failed. I failed many times, but He didn’t.

Life-threatening illness in Seminary
I was in my in my second and busiest year of seminary when I got sick.  But I struggled through the year, getting good grades, just like I had before getting sick. And I experienced what I firmly believe to this day was an unmistakable healing. Days later I heard the news: the  nurse told me that my blood test results showed the sickness was completely gone.

Prayer at the Mental Hospital
I was working in a mental hospital. I was a teenager at the time and worried whether I was doing a good job. So I locked myself in a restroom, got on my knees, told God I needed reassurance and claimed Mathew 7:7: “Ask and it will be given to you…” Then got up, went outside and a patient told me, “The charge (unit boss) is looking for you.” I went to the office, and he turned to me and said, “Oh yeah, I just wanted to tell you you’re doing a good job.” A direct and precise answer to prayer about 3 minutes after I had prayed.

Rock Climbing Peril
I was rock climbing with friends about 1500 feet above the pine trees and ground on Lily Rock at the Tahquitz area of Southern California. I was leading above my fellow climbers and got into trouble. I was definite danger of losing my grip and falling backward and down through a narrow jagged rock opening. Soon my legs and arms began to tremble. And believe me, I prayed very frankly to God. And then, soon, He saw to it that I was able to climb back down to a safe area.

There were many other occasions when God came through for me.  He did not fail to do so, even once. And usually things turned out better than I had anticipated.

So what else would I share?

Number 2: God is The Master-Timer
I would tell my grandchildren that God is the master of timing. He doesn’t always answer our prayers when we want Him to. But He always knows what is best. We may not get healing in time. We may die still sick or broken or of a broken heart. Be He always acts toward us in love. We can count on Him for that.  So we can’t always count on things getting done when we want them done, but He will get them done.

Oh, and one more thing…
In the words of Revelation 21:3-4:
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold the tabernacle of God is among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.'”

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Photo above courtesy of easylocum @ Flickr Commons