Since I was a little kid, I always wondered what it would have been like to have God talk to me. I had heard all the Bible stories of God talking to people: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Paul to name just a few.
I always craved that kind of personal attention… to know that the Creator of the Universe saw me, knew me, and was willing to speak to me. I grew up in a church that did not mention the presence of the Holy Spirit, let alone attempt to lead others to experience His presence.
In the past year, I have begun to experience this kind of personal interaction with the Lord through an Immanuel approach to prayer and life… but now something strange has happened.
As I have experienced God's personal presence in overwhelming new ways, I have wrestled with the temptation to worship the 'experience' of His presence. I have a new vision of what it means to be 'in Christ' and to have Christ dwell in me. It is a brand new thing for me to personally experience the presence of Immanuel... to learn that He is present with not just 'His people' in a collective way, but also with 'me' as a beloved daughter.
I am so grateful for these visits from the Lord... but now I am becoming a bit more like a spoiled brat. I am tempted to demand His presence… complaining when I’m not aware of His presence like I was the last time I prayed… feeling like it’s somehow my fault when He doesn’t show up and speak to me like He did before... getting depressed when I experience silence from Him.
Ty preached this morning… and as a side point, talked about a time in his life when he experienced something similar. He was aware of God’s presence with him and full of God’s purpose. And then began trying to analyze how he was staying in that place… and trying to do whatever he could to keep experiencing God in this way. And he spoke of the danger of turning gifts into something we try to control or manipulate. He reminded us that God’s words and God’s signs aren’t the thing that we seek… but God, Himself, as a person who wants to engage with us and wants to encounter us. Sometimes, our experience of God makes us feel ruined… because we can’t have everything all at once. But the Lord gives us our daily bread… food for the journey.
And I am reminded that I need to lay down my demands and receive today’s gift of His presence… whether it’s an overwhelming experience… or stubborn faith in His promise to be with His people.