Today was the first walk of my second week of the Intervarsity Digital Camino. If you haven’t read any previous posts related to this Camino journey, check these out:
Our focus this week is “presence” – specifically the presence of God throughout our journey. The audio companions reminded us that God gave himself the name “I Am”, present tense, and that Jesus was called “Emmanuel”, meaning “God with us”.
It may seem obvious that God, being an omnipresent being, is always with us. As followers of Jesus we all believe this tenet of orthodox Christianity. It’s a given.
And yet, we forget.
As a worship leader, along with my musical duties, I believe that I have a responsibility to communicate an accurate representation of God’s character and of the main theological principles of scripture. In other words, “the basics”.
One area of confusion that I have had to deal with is songs that say things like, “Come, Holy Spirit” or sayings like “God showed up”. If you believe that God is omnipresent then the Holy Spirit is always with us. Why do we have to ask him to come? What happens when God doesn’t “show up”? Is he somewhere else?
The way that I usually try to explain this is that it has more to do with our perspective and acknowledgement of God’s presence than about where he is located. The Holy Spirit is with me but I don’t always acknowledge that or live as if it were true. In fact, many times I ignore God and behave as if he is not there. Sometimes I don’t feel as if God is there and I may feel lonely or abandoned. This does not mean he is not there, rather it means that I am not aware of his presence.
This is huge.
Being aware of God’s presence makes all the difference. When I am NOT aware of his presence then I end up bearing burdens that I am not able to bear alone. I end up making decisions based on my own understanding. I end up being distracted and possibly wandering off the path.
There are so many things we can do to “practice” his presence, as many people say. We read and meditate on scripture. We spend time in prayer. We practice fellowship and hospitality (on Zoom). And most importantly, as we were encouraged during this week’s walk, we need to slow down and listen.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.Psalm 23:2-3
For me, it is nearly impossible for me to truly acknowledge God’s presence unless I slow down, quiet down, unplug, and listen. And this doesn’t just mean listen to God in a spiritual sense but to listen to the sounds around me. I live in a semi-urban area and when I start to listen to the sounds around me I begin to hear traffic, airplanes, alarms, landscaping and construction equipment. But as I get quieter I start to hear the other reminders of Creator God’s presence: songbirds, hawks, squirrels, the wind. I see butterflies and bees and the movement of leaves and branches.
Breathe in and out. Be thankful for being alive. It begins there. Then I am prepared to receive from God, for him to remind me of who he is through reading of scripture and through the practice of prayer.