As we segue from the 23rd Psalm back to Mark's gospel, let us consider the idea of feeling God near.
It is one thing to believe that the Lord is our Shepherd, but is it possible to feel him?
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 ."1 David wrote of God's presence throughout the psalms. We just considered his words "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me."2 And just before Jesus ascended into Heaven, he comforted his disciples with these words, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age. "3
Cognitively, we can believe that God is with us; we trust his promises that this is true--but is it possible to FEEL his presence? Some thoughts~
First, ♦ let's be desirous of God's presence ~ Consider Brother Lawrence,4 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 a monastery in 17th century France.
As I write, it is early morning, I am outside--the birds are singing, squirrels are chasing each other, the hens are walking about, soft worship music plays on my laptop; I have spent time reading the Word (Psalm 15 to be specific), and I have prayed. So right now, just this moment, I feel God's presence. But how do I go out from this place, into the day and whatever lies ahead, still in his presence?
Some thoughtful suggestions~
♦ 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 around, listen... Earth's crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God, but only he who sees takes off his shoes; the rest sit around and pluck blackberries.5
♦Make room for God with a little silence, so that you can hear him.
"Be still, and know that I am God."6
"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
I love my time of quiet with God each 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. He is there and He is not silent.
God, I'm in awe of you! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ns8c1f-nlkk
1 Joshua 1.9
2 Psalm 23.4
3 Matthew 28.20
4 Practicing the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence
5 Elizabeth Barrett Browning
6 Psalm 46.10
7 Zephaniah 1.7