Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Monday, March 25, 2024

By Laura Still

The Presence of God

Read: Psalm 139:7-12

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths you are there. If I take the wings of the morning, if I fly to the furthermost depths of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me,” even then the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

Lent is traditionally viewed as a time a self-denial, as a time when we focus on the dark side of ourselves and try to improve our faith practices through exercises in self-discipline, fasting, study and prayer. It is a time we are meant to move closer to God, but another way to improve our relationship with our Lord is to seek joy—the joy of being loved by God.

One of the joyful things about teaching children is the questions they ask, even the ones that are meant to sidetrack the lesson plan. In a recent discussion of our lesson, which was about the baptism of Jesus, the kids managed to turn the conversation to the omnipresence of God—not that they used that particular phrase. They wanted to know, if God was everywhere, was He here in the room? Was He also out in the hallway? Could He be in the closet? Or in the trash can even? I replied ‘Yes’ to every question, and seeing a certain look in some of their eyes, I went on to say, “I don’t care where you are thinking of, no matter how weird or inappropriate you think it is, God is there. There is no place you can go that God cannot be. He is everywhere, because nothing is impossible for God.”

After that I managed to get them back to our lesson, but their questions are never unwelcome. They always give me the feeling that God wants me to think about something, because I hear echoes of these questions as I go through the week, remembering times I have felt distant from God’s presence, when I have tried to hide myself in the darkness, and forget that God is with me no matter how lonely or confused I am feeling. Whatever is troubling me, God is listening and present, constant and steadfast in his love. I may not see a dove descending or hear a voice from the heavens, but I do hear God speaking in the voices of the children, reminding me I too am his beloved child.

Prayer

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Amen. (Psalm 139:23-24)

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