What a concept at any time . . . to feel God?!? Is it even possible?
While people all over the world are thinking of Christmas in lesser or greater degrees right now-religious and irreligious alike--one thing only sets the celebration apart - feeling God's presence on a personal level. See, we can have choirs, pageants, preschool plays and extra church services; we can put up big trees and Christmas lights--all can look good from the outside, but for some, it remains on the outside. It is activity and not connectivity - that which enables us to feel greater connection with the Savior born in Bethlehem. Personally, I want more. And having just been in Bethlehem a few short weeks ago, (picturing in my minds' the town of Jesus' birth), I want just as up-close and personal a revelation in my heart as I did holding a lamb at the shepherds' fields.
Here's the question: How do you feel God's presence--at Christmas time, or any time?
These familiar words were uttered some 700 years before the birth of Jesus: "The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." Amazing.
Lean in now. Matthew's account of the birth of Jesus Christ includes the angel's announcement to Joseph that his betrothed, Mary, was to bear a son. This was a fulfillment of the above prophecy of Isaiah.1 Immanuel means "God with us."2 Hmm . . . God with us . . . what. does. that. mean?
Throughout Scripture, the people of God were assured that God was with them. Joshua was told by God, "for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."3 David wrote of God's presence throughout the psalms: "yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me."4 Just before Jesus ascended into Heaven, he comforted his disciples with these words, "lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."5
Cognitively, we can believe that God is with us, but how can we FEEL his presence? Here are some of my thoughts on our part in feeling God's presence~
First, ♦let's be desirous of God's presence ~ Consider Brother Lawrence,6 who said, "Oh my God, since you are with me, and I must now, in obedience to your commands, apply my mind to these outward things, I ask you to grant me the grace to continue in your presence. To this end make me prosper through your assistance. Receive all my works, and possess all my affections." He was a dishwasher in 17th century France.
♦Look for God ~ be aware of where God might be working around you. I've heard people pray for God to do or act in a certain way on their behalf, and then when they see action or resolution, they credit it to coincidence! >If you are praying about something specifically, and there is movement in that area, don't you think it is at least possible, if not probable, that God had something to do with it?! Look for God at work around you.
♦Ask God to reveal himself to you - Psalm 19 talks about the heavens declaring the glory of God all around us. Look up, look out and also listen for him around you.
♦Make room for God with a little silence, so that you can hear him.
"God is the friend of silence . . .
See how nature, the trees, the flowers, the grass
grow in deep silence.
See how the stars, the moon and the sun
move in silence.
The more we receive in our silent prayer,
The more we can give in our active life." Mother Teresa
"Be still, and know that I am God."7 Give him '15' in the morning: in his Word and in conversation. "Be silent in the presence of the Lord God."8
I hope you will give God some quiet to speak into; I hope you will look for him at work near you ~ in and around you. I hope you will listen, and hear God speaking to you. Because the fact is: God is with you.
1 Isaiah 7.14
2 Matthew 1.23
3 Joshua 1.9
4 Psalm 23.4
5 Matthew 28.20
6 Practicing the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence
7 Psalm 46.10
8 Zephaniah 1.7