January 25, 2010

The Presence

When I was a little girl, my parents, Sunday School teachers, and others of a spiritual persuasion often told children in their care: "God is always watching." We understood this admonition to mean: "Be careful and be good, because God knows everything you say and do." The intent was to warn and to control, to keep us "on our toes."

I don't really think there was anything wrong or incorrect in that teaching and perhaps as adults we would all do well to remember we can never really escape "the Presence." "For in Him we live and move and have our being."--Acts 17:28. When St. Paul used these words in a sermon in ancient Athens, he wasn't preaching to the church, but to those who were "unconverted", some of whom may have been seekers, or just bored or curious listeners. Whether you acknowledge God or not, you cannot escape His presence.

But what does that mean for someone who knows and loves God? When I was a child, knowing God was "always watching" didn't stop me from telling a lie or disobeying my parents, or taking a forbidden shortcut to school. What does it mean now for me to know God doesn't simply go everywhere with me, but is, in fact, already everywhere? And always has been. And always will be.

The strength that strengthens me is always available. The love that comforts me is never far away, but closer than my own thoughts and memories. The wisdom that brightens my thoughts and thinking and creativity can never be exhausted. The protection that guarantees the safety of my soul can never be outmaneuvered or outgunned. The compassion that waits to forgive is always there.

Knowing this, my stress levels should go down. There is no reason to wait to ask for or receive whatever I may need from God. I am living peacefully within the limits of what love allows. I am as close to God as I want to be and can be as aware of His presence as I wish. I may need to remind myself of this twice or day or twenty times a day. No matter. How different would my life be if I never forgot the Presence (invisible) but even now in the room with me, that strengthens, comforts, teaches, protects, and loves?

"For in Him we live and move and have our being."

No comments: