We often talk, pray, and sing about God’s presence, and for good reason. Yet, it is difficult to get our heads around exactly what it is.
Like many of you, I have experienced moments in my life where God’s presence was so strong that I never wanted it to end—electric, liquid love pouring into my soul and body…better than any other earthly experience and yet difficult to describe. During those moments, I felt like anything was possible and my faith grew immeasurably.
When I think about these times, I begin to ask a lot of questions: Can we experience more of those moments? After all, isn’t God omnipresent already? Is His presence quantifiable in ways that we can have more of it?
I’ve come to believe the answer is yes.
After all, God’s presence came and went from the ancient temple in Jerusalem, and yet God’s presence leaving the temple did not diminish His omnipresence. And, God manifested His presence on the Day of Pentecost in a more powerful way than most other days.
So what steps can we take to host more of God’s presence in our lives and in our schools and classrooms? While God’s presence is always subject to His sovereign choice and He will not be manipulated, I believe there are things we can do to make the manifestation of His presence more likely.
Some keys are found in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit” (NIV).
On the positive side, I find that worship drenched in gratitude is often a gateway to God’s presence. Whenever possible, fill your classroom or office with worship, pouring out your thankfulness to God.
On the negative side, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal ways in which you may be quenching the Spirit. Unforgiveness which leads to bitterness is a common one. Ask Him to show you anyone you need to forgive. Fear and shame are other common Spirit-quenchers. As well as you are able, release these things to Him, and let His grace and love take up the spaces left empty.
My prayer is that reading through this issue about presence will help open your heart more and more to experiencing the love, joy, and freedom found in Him.
The more we do this, the more we begin to understand the Psalmist when he wrote: “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple” (Ps. 27:4).
And, when educators spend time in His presence, their students and schools will never be the same!
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