Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Cast your burden on the Lord, releasing the weight of it, and He will sustain you: He will never allow the consistently righteous to be moved, to slip or fall or fail.”
Psalm 55: 22
If You But Trust in God to Guide You
“If you but trust in God to guide you
And place your confidence in Him,
You’ll find Him always there beside you,
To give you hope and strength within.
For those who trust God’s changeless love
Build on the rock that will not move.”
Today’s Study Text:
“You have beset me and shut me in – behind and before, and You have laid Your hand upon me. Your infinite knowledge is too wonderful for me: it is high above me, I cannot reach it. Where could I go from Your Spirit? Or where could I flee from Your presence? If I ascend up into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall Your hand lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. Even the darkness hides nothing from You, but the night shines as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to You.”
Psalm 139: 5-12
The God of Dothan – Part 17
“God – Ever Present”
“The eyes of the Lord are in every place.”
Proverbs 15: 3
Do I trust that my Father’s presence is with me at all times?
Have I experienced God’s presence in my own heart?
“A sense of Deity is inscribed on every heart.”
“God is not an idea, or a definition that we have committed to memory, He is a presence which we experience in our hearts.”
If there’s a place on earth where I can say I felt closer to God than at any other time in my life, it was several years ago when Jim and I went for three days to Monument Valley, a remote desert region. Because of the absence of city lights, when it got dark and the stars came out and the moon rose, the heavenly light, reflecting off the jagged rock formations which appear to emerge right out of the desert floor, became in one word – breathtaking.
Wanting to get a better view of the stunning beauty and silence of the night, Jim and I drove along a road that borders the valley. Alone with nothing to break the silence but the occasional howl of a coyote, I felt that heaven and earth were very close, indeed. At that moment, it seemed as if I was truly in the “presence” of God.
As I reflect back on that trip and the memories I have of being enveloped in such stillness, I think of Abraham and David and other children of God who were visited by their Father in heaven, out under a starry sky. And it makes me wonder if with all our electronic gadgets, we haven’t filled our lives with so much noise and clutter that we have made it next to impossible to recognize that the presence of God doesn’t have to be something we think just happened to characters in the Bible, for it can be a reality in our own lives every moment of every day.
Over the past few weeks, I have stopped to think about God’s presence in my own life, even more than usual, as we have studied about the “God of Dothan.”
For the young lad Joseph, God’s presence became part of his life, long before he hit the bottom of the empty well in Dothan. As we found out, this young boy had been sent dreams foretelling his future before he was thrown into a pit. God was a reality to Joseph for he had heard about God from his own father, Jacob, whose encounter with God, after he fled his family home because of his own deceit, came as Jacob, sleeping on the ground, “dreamed that there was a ladder set upon the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it…And God said, ‘Behold, I am with you and will keep watch over you with care and will take notice of you wherever you may go’” (Genesis 28: 12-15, Amplified Bible).
Just think of Jacob relating this story to his young son Joseph. Urging him to never forget that no matter what happened to him in his life, God would be with him – this Joseph could count on. And so, when at the bottom of a dry well; when sold to slave traders; when working as a servant for an Egyptian military man; and when tossed into prison – I can only imagine that Joseph frequently turned his thoughts to the testimony left by his father. It was an affirmation which confirmed to Joseph that God’s presence was always with him, no matter where he found himself to be.
But Joseph wasn’t the only person in Dothan that knew that his God was with him, no matter how bleak the circumstances were. We find that Elisha, too, who had witnessed a chariot of fire come from heaven to sweep away his beloved friend and mentor, was now able to see the same chariots come, to protect him as a defense from a foreign army. I find it so beautiful the way God gave Elisha an indication of His presence with something familiar – a chariot of fire. This tells me something very touching about my Father in heaven, for if I will open myself up, and watch and listen for God’s presence in my own life, I may well find Him, intertwined in with the common activities that I have witnessed frequently before.
The respected theologian and writer C. S. Lewis pointed out that, “We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God.” This to me is where the rubber meets the road, for I can choose to fill my life with so many non-essentials that I simply drown out the “essential.” I don’t recognize God’s presence when in fact He has been with me all along. C. S. Lewis also underscores this very point when he states what appears to be obvious: “The world is crowded with (God). He walks everywhere incognito.” As I read this statement, I thought about all the times in my own life, when I’ve wanted to know that God is with me – right by my side – in everything I do. The relevancy of the fact that God is the one that is with me, while mentally clear, too frequently gets glossed over because of the constraints my own life choices put upon the revelation of God in all I do.
This means that when I find myself in a pit like Joseph or surrounded by a vicious army, intent on taking me down, while it may be appropriate to ask God for His protection and to long for a sense of His presence, how much more would I be prepared to handle these tough times if every single day, in all I do, I became aware that God keeps company with me? Author F. B. Meyer illustrates this point so beautifully when he wrote: “God’s help does not, for the most part, come miraculously or obviously. It steals as gradually into our life as the grass of spring clothes the hills with fresh and verdant robes. Before (I) can say, ‘Lo, here! Or lo, there!’ God has suddenly entered into our need and met it. A smile, a flower, a letter, a burst of music, the picture of a bit of mountain scenery, a book, the coming of a friend – such are the ways in which God comes (His presence enters) to our help…supplying our need as the occasion arises.”
Many years ago, long before the continued buzz of cell phones and computer technology, Meister Eckhart penned these thoughtful words which are all the more pertinent in our lives today: “We may go into the field and say a prayer and be aware of God, or we may be in church and be aware of God; but if we are more aware of Him, because it is in a quiet place…that is not due to God, who is alike present in all things and places, and is willing to give Himself everywhere so far as lies in Him…we know God rightly when we know Him everywhere.”
Who is the God of Dothan? He is my Father, whose presence is always with me – in the light and in the dark; in the good times and bad; in joy and in sorrow. He is a God who is always near, right by my side, just as He is with you, too!
In writing about his experiences in Africa, Dr. David Livingstone shared that if you “would like me to tell you what supported me through all the years of exile among a people whose language I could not understand and whose attitude to me was always uncertain and often hostile? It was this ‘Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.’ On these words I staked everything, and they never failed.”
May you and I recognize the comforting presence of our Father in heaven each moment of the day. May we say of the God of Dothan that He truly is “Ever Present,” in our lives.
“Lord, we Thy presence seek;
May ours this blessing be;
Give us a pure and lowly heart,
A temple meet for Thee.”
From Hall’s Psalms and Hymns
“God of Your goodness, give me Yourself,
for You are sufficient for me.
I may not correctly ask for anything less,
to be worthy of You.
If I were to ask anything less
I should always be in need,
for in You alone do I have all.”
Julian of Norwich
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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