By Susie Larson
What is the presence of God? Christians often talk about “seeking God’s presence” or praying for God “to be present with us in this place.” But what exactly does that mean?
Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.” It’s in God’s presence that we find the fullness of joy. And, as Nehemiah 8:10 tells us, “The joy of the Lord is [our] strength.” It’s in God’s presence where we receive correction, direction, comfort, and assurance. God’s presence brings clarity to our confusion, hope in place of despair.
God’s presence is everything to us. He shows up in surprising ways in our stories. And even in seasons of silence, we can learn from Him.
God is not subject to our formulas. He won’t fit in our boundaries or boxes. He’s not limited by our small thinking. Isaiah 55:8–9 says God’s ways are higher and His thoughts are deeper and His love is far greater than our minds can fathom. His Spirit moves like the wind, and we’re wise to catch sail when He breathes fresh life into us.
There’s nothing like God’s presence. Maybe that’s why we sometimes chase the sensational but miss the supernatural. We want to experience again what we experienced then. But in the process, might we rush right by the nuanced, miraculous ways God is showing up in our stories?
Christians sometimes say it’s unbiblical to ask for more of God’s presence because He’s omnipresent. Yet what about the psalms that cry out for more of God? And what about the verses that speak of God’s movement? When God intervenes in the affairs of men, everything changes. He sometimes draws near. Other times He distances Himself. Why? And what about His movement in your life? He occasionally lifts you up. Other times He tucks you in. Sometimes He establishes you. Other times He hides you.
God’s presence isn’t a static, unmoving entity stuck in inertia. His presence is a force. It’s powerful, moving, flowing, and breathing life into all creation. The God who put the stars in place is, right now, writing a story with your life that will take your breath away.
God Reveals His Presence
When God made Himself known in the Old Testament, even the most righteous souls were at once terrified. Though these men and women faithfully obeyed God and sought hard after Him, they were undone when they actually encountered Him.
In the New Testament, it’s quite the same. Peter, James, and John saw Jesus transformed before their eyes. Matthew 17:2 tells us that when Jesus was on the mountain, His “face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” When God’s voice thundered from heaven, the men fell facedown and were terrified.
Later, in John 18, we see that when the Roman soldiers came to arrest Jesus and He asked who they were looking for, they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.” Jesus stepped forward and said, “I am he.” And the sheer power that flowed from those words knocked a large contingent of soldiers off their feet. Jesus proved that they weren’t taking His life; He was freely giving it.
God’s presence is power. He has no rival. Psalm 73:26 says God is the strength of our hearts and our portion forever. So why doesn’t everyone long for more of His presence?
When Jesus ministered healing and wholeness to the broken and hurting, some of the townspeople begged Him to stay, while others begged Him to leave. Why such different responses? I’ve noticed in Scripture that whenever God revealed His majesty and power, people had to make a choice: to move toward God or away from Him.
The fact that our star-breathing God looks upon this pebble of a planet and takes great care to know about every detail of our lives is invitation enough to seek Him in ways you and I never have before. As we pursue the heart of God, through the Word of God, we more clearly understand the presence of God.
Adapted from Closer Than Your Next Breath: Where is God When You Need Him Most? by Susie Larson.
God is omnipresent—meaning He’s here, there, everywhere all at the same time—so no matter what you’re going through today or worried about facing tomorrow, He is closer than you can imagine, and His presence changes everything.
The God of creation cares deeply about every detail of our personal lives. He’s in charge of every galaxy and has named every star. He also knows about the hurts in our hearts and the hairs on our heads. He’s near and far. His glory fills the universe, and yet He’s up close and involved.
Though we believe in our minds that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present, sometimes we don’t feel his closeness. How can we walk boldly in our faith, expecting Him to draw near to us as we draw near to Him, as promised in the book of James? In Closer Than Your Next Breath, bestselling author, speaker, and radio host Susie Larson helps readers experience God’s trustworthiness and love—even when they feel far from Him. In this book, readers will explore these questions and more:
- How do I know if I’m hearing the voice of God?
- Is feeling good the same as feeling God?
- Is there anything I can do when God seems silent?
- How should God’s presence impact me?
There’s nothing like God’s presence in our lives, but sometimes we chase the sensational and miss the supernatural. Worship services, retreats or conferences, and mountaintop experiences are great, but too often we rush right by the nuanced, miraculous ways God shows up in our story every day. When we pursue the heart of God through the Word of God, that’s when we experience the presence of God—and it makes all the difference in our lives.
Susie Larson is a popular radio talk show host, national speaker, and bestselling author. The author of twenty-two books, Susie is also a veteran in the fitness field and has twice been voted a top-ten finalist for the John C. Maxwell Transformational Leadership Award. Susie and her husband live near Minneapolis with their three sons, three daughters-in-law, and three grandchildren. Susie’s passion is to see people everywhere awakened to the value of their soul, the depth of God’s love, and the height of their calling in Christ Jesus.
Closer Than Your Next Breath is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
Do you have questions about the Bible verses mentioned above?
Become a member of Bible Gateway Plus and get answers to all your Bible questions while you are reading the Bible. Upgrade to the best value in digital Bible study today!