There is a spiritual hunger in the world today—and it cannot be satisfied by better cars on longer credit terms. –Adlai E. Stevenson II, politician
Then he said to Him, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here.” Exodus 33:15 (NASB)
We’ve been told that God is near, but sometimes, He seems very far away. What’s that about? God is indeed everywhere (omnipresent) around us, but that doesn’t mean that all people experience His presence.
Consider the apostle Paul’s words recorded in the book of Acts:
The God who made the world and everything in it—He is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in shrines made by hands. Neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives everyone life and breath and all things. From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. He did this so they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. Acts 17:24-27 (HCSB)
In one sense, God is very near to all of us, but at the same time we can be separated from Him by a vast universe. It’s as though He functions on an entirely different wavelength, and we can’t connect until we tune in to His frequency. Grasping this reality is foundational to the Christian gospel.
To be dead in sin means to be spiritually separated from our Creator—even though we can almost reach out and touch Him. And problematically, no amount of human effort can remedy the situation. Attending church, giving to the poor, and cleaning up our lifestyle may all be positive personal moves, but none of them do anything to put us in God’s good graces. He may be near in principle, but in experience, He might as well be on the other side of the Milky Way.
God’s Indwelling Presence
Under the Old Covenant, most of God’s people knew Him only from a distance. Christ’s death on the cross changed everything! In the often-quoted text of the third chapter of John (3:3), Jesus proclaimed that no person can see the kingdom of God without being “born again” (or born from above).
When an individual enters into a New Covenant relationship with God, the Holy Spirit enters that person’s heart and becomes one with his/her spirit, bringing it to life. I refer to a oneness far exceeding any level of human intimacy. Ponder the thought for a minute. The presence of the eternal Creator of the Universe dwelling in the hearts of imperfect, sin-prone humans is one of the great mysteries of all time!
I can’t imagine that God would want to dwell in our hearts without also desiring to make His presence known. It is through the manifestation of God’s presence that He enables us to sense His nearness. This type of manifestation of God’s presence is similar to what Moses sought. It wasn’t enough for him to know that God was everywhere around him. Moses wanted to know and experience His nearness.
As a Christian, I am ever so thankful that God’s presence dwells within me, but I have a deep, spiritual hunger for more. I know that He is always with me, but I want to be with Him, living according to His ways and allowing Him to manifest Himself in increasing measures. No high can compare to tasting the sweetness of the One who designed us.
In daily life, distractions become a huge obstacle to intimacy with God. It is here that we can find a refreshing quality to a wilderness experience. As distractions fade away, we are better able to train our attention to seek His face. May we never despise quiet or obscure seasons, for in the quiet solitude of the wilderness our Savior dwells.
We’re all driven by a spiritual hunger for God. The problem is that we try to fill the need with things that will never satisfy.
I don’t know about you, but I want to know and experience more of my Creator!