Living with an awareness of God’s presence is a vital component of the Christian life. The fact that we can live in relationship with God is an incredible gift and something that I can’t and wouldn’t want to live without. We’ve been promised that God is near and we can know that the promise is true, but one thing I’ve learned is that it doesn’t always feel that way. Sometimes it feels like God is distant and it’s a struggle to hear His voice.
One of those times occurred for me recently while I was on an anniversary vacation in New York City. It was a little bit of a culture shock to me and I quickly learned why they called it “the city that never sleeps” (I honestly don’t believe they sleep in NYC!). Everywhere I turned there was something that attracted my attention. Feeling the nearness of God in the middle of so much commotion and activity seemed nearly impossible. After just a few days I could feel my attention focusing on everything, BUT God.
I felt like I had slowly allowed my ears to close to God’s voice. With all of the vacation planning, dinner reservations, and sightseeing I had allowed myself to become completely focused on my agenda and nothing else. I didn’t like that feeling so I prayed that God would just allow me to re-focus, enjoy the vacation, and give me a fresh awareness of His presence. It wasn’t anything dramatic or special; it was just a simple, short prayer.
Later that day after praying that, I decided to go down the street to buy a few soft drinks to stock our mini fridge. I bought 5 drinks for my wife and I to share. Two drinks a piece, plus one extra.
On the way back to the hotel I was stopped waiting to cross the street and out of the corner of my eye I saw a homeless man slowly moving past me pushing a grocery cart. I had walked past countless homeless people on our trip, but for some reason this man got my attention.
As I stood there waiting I felt a very clear prompt to do something for the man. It was kind of surprising. I had struggled so much to feel the nearness of God, but right then and there, God pierced through the commotion right to my heart.
I didn’t have any idea what to do at first, but then the extra drink that I had purchased came to my mind. I fought it for a few seconds, all the way until the cross walk light came on, then I turned and handed him one of the drinks and quickly said, “Here you go, God bless.”
The man looked up, smiled and softly replied, “God bless you too.”
I don’t even know if the man was thirsty or in actual need, but I do know that in that moment God grabbed my attention. God showed me that He can be found anywhere and at any time. He invites us to simply lean in. His Word promises that He will draw near to us if we draw near to Him (James 4:4). It is a simple, yet very powerful truth.
God’s presence can be enjoyed outside of church and away from prayer meetings. We’ve been given 24/7 access. We’ve been invited into a relationship with God and relationship literally means living in relation, or connection to someone. Practically speaking, just include God in whatever you do.
If God can be found in the middle of New York City on a busy street corner with a million distractions, He can be found anywhere. Leaning into God doesn’t mean just in your quiet time, it means all the time, even in the busiest of places.
“You can see God from anywhere if your mind is set to love and obey Him.” A.W. Tozer