Presence Changes Us
How does our life change as we enter into God’s Presence? Easter changes us. Or at least it’s supposed to. The resurrection changes everything. Those who follow Jesus become new, they are transformed, converted, renewed, “born again”. As Paul writes, “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Cor 5:17)
The second way that Children of light are different is that they feel different.
As we experience God’s Presence, the Holy Spirit changes our emotions and feelings. Our emotional life becomes one that is “deeply characterized by love.”
Feelings are intensely powerful. Dallas Willard writes that “those who continue to be mastered by their feelings -whether it is anger, fear, sexual attraction, desire for food or for “looking good”,,,are typically persons who in their heart of hearts believe that their feelings must be satisfied.”
Are you a slave to your feelings? Is your life being dictated by feelings and emotions? The problem with feelings is that they are “good servants” but “disastrous masters”.
In 1 Kings 18 we read about how Elijah challenged those who worshipped other gods to a big cook off competition. Elijah wins and gets into deep trouble for it. In the New Testament James writes that Elijah was a man just like us. (James 5:17) And we see in the life of Elijah all of the symptoms of a good man who is an emotional wreck.
Elijah had a misconception of God’s presence in his life. He tended to believe that God was present if he could see his power revealed through mighty acts, such as what he had just witnessed with the consuming of the offering by fire from heaven. He believed that God revealed himself only through signs and wonders. If things were going right, then God was present. However when things went wrong, he felt that God was no where in sight. He reasoned that if he were going through such a time of difficulty that God must have forsaken him, and that he is all alone and in big trouble with no help in sight.
Elijah is having a tough time, he is deeply depressed and distressed. He is burnt out. Elijah was stuck. He was afraid, depressed, paralysed. He was stuck in the past and afraid of the future. Emotionally he was finished. Eventually we find him in a solitary place. He has finally slowed down and stopped running.
There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the LORD came to him:
“What are you doing here, Elijah?”
He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
11-12 The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire.
And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him,
“What are you doing here, Elijah?”
What are you doing here? Or why are you still here? Why are you not growing?
The challenge for Elijah and for us is to live in the present. Are you ready to hear the still small voice? Are you ready to hear what God would say to you? Are you prepared to let his voice guide you now in the present? Will you actively stop and listen? Will you stop running in order to experience God’s Presence?