"I feel God's presence in school," says Ridge, age 7. "I feel God's presence in class."

Ridge, if you can sense God's presence at school in the second grade, you're light years ahead of where I was at age 7. The presence I recall most vividly is that of the principal trying to decide what form of punishment to inflict upon me for what I considered to be creative behavior. I never could persuade him, or my parents, to see the paint I sprayed on the school walls as a burst of unbridled creativity destined for recognition by the world's artistic elite.

All joking aside, Daniel, 9, provides us an example of how God's presence in our conscience can prevent us from wrongful acts: "I know when God is around when I am alone, and about to do something bad, but decide not to do it."

Those who understand that God is ever present also know that nothing is hidden from his sight. Do you have a secret? Consider Jesus' teaching: "For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light" (Luke 8:17).

When Mikhail Gorbachev started to introduce reforms into the closed society of the former Soviet Union, he called it "glasnost," which is translated "openness." That which had been hidden and lied about, such as the brutality of the Stalin era, began to come to light.
 
Live today in the light of God's presence, and enjoy the freedom of openness. All of us have areas of weakness with which we struggle, but we don't have to hide them. Embrace the once-for-all forgiveness in the cross of Christ, and then determine to live openly by confessing all known sin to him. Agree with God that the sin you've committed was judged at the cross, and then embrace the Lord's resources to walk in the light of his Word, his Spirit and fellowship with other believers.

Pollster George Gallup once told me that Americans are the loneliest people on Earth. He also said that Christians who meet regularly in small groups live more meaningful lives.
Gallup himself has been meeting with a small group of Christians for many years. It's hard to experience God's presence when we're trying to live the Christian life as the Lone Ranger. Jesus established his church as a meeting place for Christians to encourage one other.
 
"At church when we are singing, I sometimes close my eyes," says Marlee, 10. "It is really odd because I feel God, sometimes even in prayer. I'm standing firm on the ground, and suddenly, something or someone is pushing me. I think sometimes, it is God, or Jesus, or even an angel saying something. I feel the pushing quite often, especially at church."
 
Jesus said, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20).
 
We have this direct promise from Jesus about his presence in the midst of believers gathered in his name. Also, Scripture records many instances where God manifested himself in special ways when Christians gathered.

Maybe God has a special way in which he makes his presence known to you. If that's the case, don't turn it into a formula. And whatever you do, don't force it on others. We can't put God in a bottle or package.
 
Some Christians run all over the country looking for formulas or blessings associated with certain movements, preachers or cities. By the time something becomes popular, if there ever was a presence of God, it has probably departed for a quiet place and a person who is far from the media hype.

God can come as a gentle dove or mighty rushing wind. It takes discernment to sense his true presence.

Give a gift email subscription to the Kids Talk About God column to a friend by clicking on the Samson icon at the  Kids Talk About God website. Ask about placing our logo click through on your website so the families of your church can receive the column at column@kidstalkaboutgod.org. Bible quotations are from the New King James Version.

Copyright © 2003 Carey Kinsolving. Distributed By Creators Syndicate, Inc.