A friend recently asked me if I often sense the Lord's presence. Frankly, I never think about the issue, although if I had to answer, I think I would say… well, again, I don't want to go there.
I view the matter differently. Namely, do I have the conviction of the Lord's presence? Am I increasingly confident, regardless of sense, emotion, or appearance, that the promise of God concerning His presence is true? "I am with you always… I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5). Such assurance more aligns with our current existence wherein "we walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7). The day will come when "face to face" shall characterize our fellowship with the Lord, and wherein our senses will perfectly and always apprehend His spiritual proximity. This is not that day, however, and we do best to seek conviction and confidence rather than sight and sensation (I Corinthians 13:12).
"Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17).
Growing conviction regarding the Lord's promised Presence begins with consistent exposure of our hearts and minds to the Scriptures. Therein we discover ongoing affirmation that God dwells not only with His trusting children, but within us through the Holy Spirit's internal abiding - "I will dwell in them and walk in them" (II Corinthians 6:16). Let us recall, however, that the Bible depicts the Holy Spirit in terms of a dove, the disposition of Whom is gentle, quiet, and unobtrusive. "Be ye… harmless as doves" (Matthew 10:16). Thus, we must expect His nature to characterize the experience of His presence. This results in a largely unseen and unfelt walk with our Heavenly Father, which nevertheless increases in living reality because our hearts become more and more convinced by the Word of God that the Spirit of God abides with us to reveal and glorify the Son of God. This elicits a far greater personal knowledge of our Lord than mere sensation could ever foster.
Such emphasis also protects us from the reality that deceiving spirits exist in the world who ever seek to counterfeit God's reality and presence. The sensation of God's presence in our awareness may be accurate at times, but it also may not. The latter possibility should temper our search for spiritual experiences that may fill with thrill, as it were, but which later are discovered to have led us astray. Dickens' Ebenezer Scrooge illuminates us here. "You may be a bit of undigested beef… a fragment of an underdone potato" said Scrooge to the spirit who visited him. Of course, the phantasm was real in Dickens' tale, but Scrooges' skepticism regarding his own senses, based on their fickle nature and proneness to deception, illustrates the necessity of our devotion to conviction rather than sensation. "Try (test) the spirits" (I John 4:1).
I believe in a personal God who provides to His trusting children in Christ the gift of loving and vivid experience of Himself. Nevertheless, I also recognize the current tendency to misread my own senses regarding the moving of the Holy Spirit in my heart and life. I thus seek conviction and a growing confidence that regardless of sensation, emotion, and appearance, the Lord permanently abides within our hearts in loving and dynamic involvement. A far safer path proceeds from such emphasis, and a far surer experience of God's grace, truth, and blessed presence.
"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment."
Weekly Memory Verse
Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.