Soaking In God’s Presence
The Smart Choice
Years ago, my wife and I had the privilege of visiting Israel. We saw the sites where Jesus and the early disciples once lived, walked and ministered. It was wonderful to have a sense of what life in Bible times could have been.
One night while we were there, my wife, Jessie, had a dream. In the dream, she saw herself wearing her diamond ring. The next moment the diamond had disappeared from the clasp of the ring. What remained was just the gold ring. Then, just as mysteriously, the diamond appeared again in the clasp of the ring. As she prayed about the dream, she sensed the Lord saying that though the diamond was precious to her, she has another treasure, and that treasure is God’s very presence. It was as if the Lord was affirming the truth that nothing in this world can compare with God and that we have the privilege of enjoying God’s presence, something that she had been doing for some time through what some call ‘soaking in God’s presence’.
A few days later, we got to the airport at Tel Aviv for our flight home. We checked our luggage in and were looking forward to settling down and waiting for our flight. Just then, Jessie noticed that the diamond was gone from the ring, leaving an empty clasp. She then remembered the dream and wondered whether God had warned her of this happening and was testing her. We tried searching for the little stone on the airport floor, thinking it may have fallen off while we were there, but it was nowhere to be found. In fact, it would have been impossible to find it even if it was there. As we tried to release it to God and prayed a little more about it, I somehow sensed that the stone was in the luggage we had just checked-in. I shared this with my wife.
The moment we arrived home in Singapore, she checked the luggage, and to her surprise, found the diamond. The losing and finding happened just as she had dreamt it. We sensed that God was re-affirming the need to keep seeking God’s presence, which is more precious than any jewel, and that the Lord gives and takes away (Job 1:21; 42:12). As such, our hearts must seek God more than anything on earth.
In Luke 10:28-42, we have the account of Martha and Mary. They both loved Jesus but expressed their love toward Him in different ways. Martha got busy making preparations, while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet. There is nothing wrong in either of their expressions of love. On the one hand, we need to be involved in serving, on the other we need to sit at Jesus’ feet. However, in this case, the Bible describes Martha as being distracted, caught up with much work and complaining. And the Lord’s conclusion was, “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (verse 42). Mary valued the presence of Jesus and understood the privilege of spending time with Him.
When I got saved, I discovered the joy of spending time with God, of knowing His intimate presence. But as I grew in the Lord and began getting active in ministry and all kinds of Christian activities, it was easy to get distracted and be overwhelmed by all of these, even to the extent that they became a chore, and my time with God suffered.
The church in Ephesus was a commendable one (Rev 2:1-5). They were hardworking, persevering, upright, spiritually discerning and willing to suffer for Jesus. Yet there was something missing. They had lost their first love. All their deeds could not replace the devotion that God desired. They needed to refocus on the Lord.
This reminds me of the husband and wife relationship. Couples begin their relationship full of passion for one another, but after many years of married life, the fire often goes off, and they end up just living with each another.
May God give us the heart of the psalmist who cried out for God:
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. Where can I go to meet with God? - (Ps 42:1-2)
Though we know God is always present, it is another thing to be aware of and experience God’s presence. Like Brother Lawrence, we can seek to practice the presence of God. And when we speak about experiencing God’s presence, we mean perceiving God’s presence and becoming more conscious of God.
One way we can do this is through ‘soaking in the presence of God’. It is similar to waiting on God or ‘tarrying in the presence of God,’ with an emphasis on being still, enjoying the presence of God, and listening to God’s whispers of love. It is about being in that position of stillness where we centre on God and tune into God’s whispers.
HOW DO WE SOAK?
Some of you may be asking, how do I go about doing this? Here are some guidelines that may help:
Find a quiet place where you can be comfortable and rest in the Lord. You can sit on a comfortable chair, lie on a sofa or on your bed, or on a carpet on the floor if you are doing this as a group.
Play a CD or mp3 player containing soft worship music or songs, such as Julie True’s album, ‘Healing Love’ or Kelly Warren & Nicole Smith’s, ‘You are Beautiful’. Music helps us quiet down and focus on God.
Invite the Holy Spirit to speak and minister to you. As you rest in the presence of the Lord, you may hear the Lord’s ‘still small voice’ telling you how much He loves you or receive a word regarding a situation in your life
or a promise from Scripture to encourage you. You may find yourself responding by telling the Lord how much you love Him.
Have a notepad to write down what you sense God is saying so that you may ponder over these thoughts later.
If you are doing this as a group, you may even have a group leader soak others in prayer as the others rest in God’s presence.
As the Lord encounters us, some have received healing and received visions. However, just taking the time to soak builds intimacy with God and helps create a greater awareness of God’s presence with us.
When we allow ourselves to ‘soak in God’s presence’, we are placing ourselves in that place where we can be saturated with a sense of God’s presence and love. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai after receiving the ten commandments, his face shone with the glory of God because he had spoken with the Lord (Exodus 34:29). Our faces may not shine like Moses when we soak, but intimacy with God will cause us to better know our God, strengthen our faith, and so affect us that others will know we have been with the Lord (Acts 4:13).
Edmund de Souza retired recently after close to 40 years of pastoral service. He was on sabbatical for the whole of 2011. He is married with three children.