Tuesday, March 20, 2007

WALKING AWAY FROM GOD’S PRESENCE - By Felix Abrahams Obi


Too many Christians are strangers to God’s presence and because they are unaware of the benefits of daily pursuing God’s presence, they live on in life without a care. Sadly, the practice of daily cultivating the presence of God is one that is taken lightly. We need to challenge and change this mindset as we enter into this new week. It is very important that we to renew our walk with God on a daily basis, and take a review of how we are getting along with God at the end of each week. This is what Christian fathers and mystics of old called ‘examen’. And when we take God’s presence seriously, we never would let anything take away the time we’d allotted to God for intimate communion with him.

Many wake up on Monday mornings with a hiss; “oh, here again is another week of stress and work”. After stretching and wiping their faces of the evidence of dried secretions from their mouths and eyes, they head straight to the bathroom to shower, groom themselves and get ready for work. For the ‘quiet time’ conscious ones, they hurriedly mutter a few lines of memorized prayers, and then read a portion from their daily devotional laced with a few Bible verses. But for many others who have been subsumed by the hustle and bustle of 9-5 jobs, they hit the streets without a care. Afterall, they had been to Sunday service the previous day, and had received enough ‘anointing’ to carry them through out the week before they get a refill the next Sunday. Church is seen as a gas station where they get a dose of anointing at no cost, and might give an offering in ‘gratitude’ to God

This has become the norm for many a sincere Christian who is not immune from the stark realities and challenges of the fast-paced age we live in which stifles the cultivation of piety and Christian spirituality. Thus Christians now lack inner strength and the character to stand firm and live right in the world. Because we have not prepared ourselves at the place of prayer, we easily cave into temptations at the work place, or market places where we deploy our gifts, talents and skills. Inasmuch as we seemingly have ‘legitimate reasons’ for taking our spiritual welfare for granted, such excuses though do not stop us from taking care our physical outlook. Many sweat it out at gyms daily to keep fit, burn excess fat and shapen-up, while many more spend fortunes on fashion designers and drycleaners to ensure they look chic and cute and/or corporate daily. So we end up just with the toga of being Christians without the evidence of God’s presence in our lives with concomitant display of character and traits that mark out true Christians.

But if we could know a little of what we lose by not cultivating God’s presence daily, we will do all within our power to seek God daily like Jesus Christ, our Lord and our Master did. Nothing was too important or expedient to take away the time he spent with his loving father. For long before his disciples woke up, he would stow away to a solitary place and commune with his father; our heavenly father. At the place of communion, his inner man will receive an infilling of the Holy Spirit which will carry him throughout the day. This was a constant feature of his exemplary life and we, his followers never would say we can be busier than him. The schedule of Jesus outstripped that of anyone in his age, and ours. From the time he woke up till he reclined to sleep at night, thousands thronged to receive healings, blessings and much more from him. Tired and fagged out from his daily work, he would take a break from gisting with his buddies, so he can commune with God. He didn’t spend his nights watching movies, the latest soaps or reality show on TV. His TV was not hooked on permanently to stations that beamed analysis of the past weekend’s premiership matches. Rather than catch up with the news and gossips of the day, he retreated into his privacy to share with God how events of the day transpired. And this daily practice of pursuing God’s Presence made him act with exactness as it heightened his spiritual awareness and discernment such that no event, however complex was able to discomfit or overwhelm him. He spoke with exactness, matched with wise actions as he dealt with both difficult people and difficult situations.

When we wake up in the morning and rush out to work without communing with God and sorting out our day, we inadvertently have ‘walked away from God’s Presence’. And life for anyone who walks away from God’s presence has never been found to be easy. After Adam was ‘walked out of God’s presence” by angels, his life became punctuated with tilling, toiling and sweating. His son, Cain after he was ‘banished from God’s presence’ became a vagabond whose life was subjected to dangers and perils. God had to place a mark of protection on him to save him from being devoured. Jonah is another example of someone who ‘walked away from God’s presence’ and ran away to Tarshish While on the way, he experienced danger and peril unlike other no other passenger in the ship. It was God’s saving grace that rescued him from the belly and mouth of the whale.

But for the ones who commune daily with God, their safety is not a dicey one. Dr. Tony Rapu posits that ‘safety is not the absence of danger or peril, but the presence of God amidst dangers”. That’s why David could walk through the valley of the shadow of death without a care, because he was so certain that God’s presence accompanied him. Paul would prove the veracity of David’s claim when the ship he traveled in experienced shipwreck. While communing with God, an angel from God’s presence was sent to assure him of their safety amidst the storms that pummeled the ship. Despite the shipwreck, they all came out safe and sound. That was why Moses refused to proceed in his journey with the Israelites in the wilderness without the presence of God. And for all Christians who had made a great impact on their generation, the pursuit of God’s presence was one variable factor that separated them from the whole lot. Often times, only a microcosm of believers know the benefits of pursuing God’s presence daily and these are the one who spend quality time with God. Little wonder many of us are shallow in our experiential knowledge of God, and powerless in confronting the challenges that come up in our daily lives.

Make a new start today. Take out sometime to quietly commune with God in your heart. If lack of time constrains you from spending time with God, and meditating on his word in the mornings, why not do it early before others arrive at the office? You can also share your break time with God, but more importantly, learn to commune with God in your heart as you punch your laptop, or wait for a client. Turn your heart away from wondering thoughts, and focus your thoughts on God for a short time. Mutter endearing words in your heart to him while you work. Tell him how much you love and cherish him. Thank him for the grace he’s bestowed on you. And as you do this daily, you’d begin to notice changes in your heart. And with time, you’d begin to sense His Presence within you amidst all the chaos that characterizes our fast paced life. Then you’d be sure to prove that physical exercise profits a little, and that Godliness has a reward right here on earth, and also in heaven. In essence, those who daily cultivate God’s presence would experience heaven on earth. Shalom and have a beautiful week.

4 comments:

JayPeeFreely said...

Your post is very true about the nature of people's attitude toward Christian practice. I like your thought on furthering the connection - if only more would read and practice the things you suggested.

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