My brother told me that he has often shopped for grocery alone. Shopping alone is nothing new to him. But now, it is very different. Shopping alone seems so lonely. Before, he knew his wife would be at home waiting for him. But now, he will not find her doing so. She is with the Lord. That was about 12 years ago.
Silence then and silence now is very different. Now, silence is deafening. Presence matters.
A person’s presence is both limited and comes with an “expiry date”. We can only hold on to it for a limited time and thereafter let it go. It is not ours to hold indefinitely. But presence matters deeply. Moses recognised this, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” Exodus 33:15 (NIV)
We read of dramatic accounts of the Presence of God from the burning bush (Ex 3) to the pillar of cloud and fire (Ex 13). And God Himself lived among us as a man in the person of Jesus Christ.
My brother experienced the “silence of her presence” when my sister in law passed away. And for some of us, we experience the “silence of God’s Presence”.
Just as now my brother does not expect my sister in law waiting for him at home, maybe we too can resonate with that feel – we do not expect the Presence of God that awaits us. We “practice the absence of God instead of the presence of God.” (Peter Kreeft, Jesus-Shock)
The lack of expectation for the Presence of God does not mean HE is absent. HE fills the heaven and earth. (Jer 23:24) We cannot flee or hide from the Presence of God. (Ps 139:7) So when we experience the “silence of God’s Presence” in our daily routine lives, HE is actually very much present with us. Our experience does not define the truth or reality of a Christian’s belief.
God is as present as the air fills the earth and as the breeze surrounds us. This is the true reality; HE is so present and so near. But in our sinfulness, we struggle to assimilate this true reality into our lives. So often we have lived a fake life. Our obsessions with our lives, our desires and our needs on earth have clouded our awareness of His very Presence right here and right now with us.
1 Kings 19:11-13 (NRSV)
He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind … but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence… Then there came a voice to him …
Elijah was expecting the Presence of God in dramatic moments and forms. But it was in that “sound of sheer silence” that he realised the Presence of God. In our average and mundane daily moments, HE is present. And when we truly believe God is so very present with us in our every moment; be it in our brightest or darkest moments, it will define our actions, our thoughts and our choices.
The wonder and splendour of His Presence awaits us to discover. Who says the Christian life is boring?
Psalm 16:11b (NASB)
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
By Amy Ong, Pastoral Staff (YCKC Bulletin 21&22 July 2018)