It saddens my heart when I talk to believers who have been worshiping and serving Christ for years, and yet they still testify to having little or no personal experience with the manifest Presence of God in their lives. Some folks seem to have gotten the message that this is simply what it means to walk in “faith” — to believe and obey despite the lack of evidence for what they believe in. They trust a God they’ve heard of on this side of eternity, hoping that they will finally actually get introduced to Him in the life to come.
This line of thought might be based upon a partial truth, but I don’t believe it is the full truth by any means. The reality is, when Jesus took on human flesh and came to Earth, the Lord was not dipping in and out of our world. God wasn’t merely paying us all a quick visit. Christ’s coming was meant to display to us the very nature and eternal character of our Father. Jesus was demonstrating to us who God is in His very essence — an incredibly incarnational, relational Being who does not leave us like a human father might leave his children (John 14:18).
We need to know that we do not serve an abstract deity who stands at a distance while asking us to merely relate with Him via the words on a page in an instructional book. Other monotheistic religions may sometimes teach that sort of thing, but the God Jesus portrays to us is characteristically interactive, affectionate, and embodied. He pursues us in His love, seeking to know and be known. Personally known. Intimately known. He takes the lead and initiates real closeness with us. That didn’t stop happening when Jesus ascended to His Throne.
Life can be so profoundly harsh and unfair to us sometimes, but as Christians we do not have to brave it alone. We have a friend who stands closer than any other brother (Proverbs 18:24), and He is not a mere concept, theory or principle for us to put our hope in. He’s actually near to the broken hearted (Psalm 34:18). He’s attuned to our needs and invested in our lives — stirred by zeal and compassion (Isaiah 26:11, Matthew 9:36). He works to catch our attention with signs, to soothe our anxieties with His gentle voice, and to touch us with the consolation that only His contact with our hearts can bring.
One of God’s names in the Old Testament was “Yahwey Shammah” — “God who is present.” In the New Testament, Jesus is called “Emmanuel” — “God with us.” This is simply who He is. It is how He functions. Jesus is the type of Person who (sometimes disruptively) grabs our attention, makes Himself known, and sweeps people off their feet with the wild, expressive, wonder-working ways He loves them. And the Bible says He is the same “yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). In fact, because of His Spirit poured out, we have it BETTER than when He physically walked the Earth among His first disciples (John 16:7).
Don’t underestimate how experiential your relationship with God can be. It doesn’t have to be dramatically spectacular 24/7, but it also doesn’t have to lack in real tangibility, in warmth, or in dynamism.
God is available. He is here. He is not withdrawn or apathetic. He offers us “daily bread” — fresh revelation and encounter — every day. I’m not telling you exactly what it has to look or feel like for you personally… But let your senses be awakened to His movement all around and within you. Don’t settle for anything less.