When I look up to the sky Regardless of place or time, I sense God’s presence with me And a swell of hope inside. I am instantly reminded That God is always near— Even closer than the sky, If I just open my eyes.
“Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?’ No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.”
–Deuteronomy 30:11-14 NRSV
In a world full of pain, hardship, stress, busyness, fear, and temptation, I hold onto the hope that I do not need to travel great distance or ascend to heaven to hear and observe the word of our most gracious Lord.
I rejoice, that God’s word is near. The word is very near—in my mouth, and in my heart for me to observe. The word is very near… and God, you are here, and you are near to me today.
O God, music of my soul
Pulse through my veins
Source and subject of my awe
Today, I greeted your beauty
In the rays of sunlight shining through chapel windows
In warm and joyful greetings from friends
In faces illumined with laughter
Today, I felt sincerest gratitude
For the kindness I witnessed
For the inspiration within
And for the Scripture read aloud
But God, you don’t always feel so near
Sometimes it is difficult to remember your truth and your light in this world
So often I forget to do my part as well
Please help me sense your word within
And see your good presence in this world
Please help me do my part
For your sake, Holy One
God of personal journeys and of communities
Present Presence of this day
To you I offer prayer
I call to mind the times when you have seemed so distant
But I also remember when I so keenly felt your comforting, guiding, loving Spirit
And I commit myself today to this season of prayer and purpose,
Of repentance and fasting and searching.
I join other Christian pilgrims, God,
And acknowledge that I do not journey alone
I search and pray within a community as much as I search and pray in solitude
I move through my daily endeavors, not alone, but with you ever before me
Even when I am unaware
God, I long to be aware—
Aware of your loving presence,
Of the needs I encounter, and the ways I can help
Of the stumbling blocks before me, and your guidance and strength
Please guide me during this season of Lent
Please guide fellow seekers and active participants
During the 40+ days that follow
O God of personal journeys and communities
Present Presence of this holy day
I am grateful, and pray this in your name
We cry out to God and ask Him to comfort us, counsel us, and heal us. We call out to Him in our times of trial and ask Him to make His presence known. We trust that God walks alongside us and tends to our needs. However, in the Gospels, when Jesus was dwelling on earth, we read of the disciples walking with Jesus, not Jesus walking with the disciples.
Jesus certainly didn’t need the disciples in the personal sense. He did not call upon the disciples so that they could comfort Him, counsel Him, and give Him strength. When Jesus faced temptation in the wilderness, He prevailed against all difficulty with the power of scripture and His prayerful communion with the Father. Jesus did not take people with Him.
He doesn’t need us to attend to His personal needs. But, Jesus does need our help in furthering the Kingdom of God. In responding to needs and building God’s kingdom here on earth, we are, in a way, with Him in His trials. Consider this illustration from Matthew 25:31-40, NKJV:
Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
When we are present to and help people and when we address the needs of this world we continue to walk with Jesus; however we also know that Jesus walks with us, as stated in the Gospel according to Matthew, “…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Mt 28:20b). Though He has ascended to the Father, Jesus is still with us in spirit, word, and deed. Therefore, we are blessed in two ways: (1) We walk with God, and (2) God walks with us. One walk, two blessings. Thanks be to God.
Lord God, how beautiful the process! The sources of insight, inspiration, encouragement, and direction all stem from You, but differ in hue. I may not see how these voices unite, but I trust that through You, O God, I will bear light today, tomorrow, and in the processes, which continue to come. You are present, I mustn’t forget. May I and all who similarly desire, be mindful of Your presence, growing in Christlikeness. These things I humbly pray. Amen.