It was a Thursday evening, with most of a long week behind me. My wife was out for the evening, and I felt the urge to take a long drive, just to relax with a change of scenery. I had planned to drive north or west, toward a store of somewhere with people, but instead I felt led to drive south, into more open country.
On a back road I was stopped by a train, and while waiting, I looked up at the sky. It was so clear. The moon, just past half full, was sparkling and bright. It was one of those beautiful scenes that just makes you smile all over.
And in those moments, I realized God had brought me out there just to sense and enjoy His presence. He just wanted me to know He was there.
I am discovering that God makes a wonderful companion. When I was dating, I had to save up topics to talk about—plan them ahead of time—in order to keep a conversation going. But in God’s presence, you don’t have to talk all the time, and you don’t have to strain to listen for His voice. Listening for God to speak doesn’t necessitate sitting in a dark room, emptying your mind of all thoughts, and contemplating your navel. When you know that He will speak when He’s ready, you can relax.
I don’t imagine God wants us to feel ill-at-ease in His presence. I don’t like it when people feel uncomfortable around me. It usually indicates they don’t know me, don’t like me, or don’t trust me. Like any good Friend, God wants us to feel relaxed in His presence, sharing our words or our silence, whichever our need may be.
The writer of Psalm 73 must have had a similar experience with God. Through most of the Psalm, he complains because the wicked prosper and seem to “get away with murder,” while the righteous scrimp to survive. He was beginning to wonder if living a righteous life was worth it, when he entered the sanctuary. There, after experiencing God’s presence, he understood how swift and certain the destruction of the wicked would be, as they would be cut off completely and forever from the goodness of the Creator. (I suspect that some of our concerns are more effectively answered by realizing the presence of the True and Living God, rather than by mere information or logic.)
The Psalmist then ends his Psalm. Note the warm, personal tone of one who knows he is with God at that very moment:
I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
(Psalm 73:23-28, NIV)
Perhaps what God most wants you to know is that He is right there with you, as a real, living being. Knowing that, and treating Him accordingly, can transform your entire life.
O Lord…you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar…
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O Lord…
you have laid your hand on me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me.
(Psalm 139:1-6, NIV)