The significance of Jesus’ entrance into this world was found in the truth that God himself would dwell among humanity. In a dream, the angel spoke to Joseph and gave this promise:
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.'” (Matthew 1:23)
Upon Jesus’ departure from this world, he promised the disciples another Counselor, the Holy Spirit who would not only live among mankind, but within us! (John 14:26) The underlying message of both Jesus’ birth and the sending of the Spirit is that God truly desires to be with us in a close, intimate relationship.
We no longer have to wonder if God is with us, God by his Spirit now lives within our very bodies. What an amazing, unprecedented gift and promise from God! The question is no longer whether or not God is with us, it is whether or not we are “with” him, acknowledging his presence.
My guess is that you have probably been in a conversation when you realized that the person you were talking to was not truly giving you their full attention. They may have been physically present before you, but their mind was in a different place. Their physical body was in close proximity, but they were unengaged and distracted from the conversation.
In our relationship with God, a parallel exists. We can have a devotional time, praying, reading, even worshipping and never really have a heart-to-heart connection with the Father. We are simply going through the chores of activity without engaging his presence. We do not slow down our hearts and focus to acknowledge the divine reality that God is there with us.
Over the month of November, I was fortunate enough to take a Sabbatical rest from my work as a pastor. During this time, I studied the person of the Holy Spirit. One of the recurring lessons the Spirit taught and reinforced with me during my quiet times was to be fully present with God, not only in my morning quiet time, but throughout the day.
I have by no means mastered this practice. I realize there is no condemnation when I find myself off center from his presence. When this occurs, I simply acknowledge that I have gone astray, I humbly acknowledge my distance and open my heart and mind to the Father’s love.
As we approach this Christmas season where the message of “God with us” is preeminent, I encourage you to take time practicing the presence of God (as Brother Lawrence’s book is appropriately titled). Quiet your heart and focus your mind upon God’s presence with you.
Below is a wonderful song, I came across recently that embodies this truth well. You may find it helpful to listen with eyes closed and set your heart to be fully focused on God’s presence.
If you desire a closer relationship with God, pick up a copy of my book, Our Good Father. It would also make a wonderful Christmas gift for your friends and family!