Experiencing the Presence of God, Part 2
We can fully devote ourselves to the Lord whether we are celibate and undistracted or married and distracted. The point is simply to draw near to God and begin to experience His awesome presence in your life.
When we do, good things happen.
Do you want the peace of God? A wife wrote me, “I have spent years yelling and crying and getting upset and every time afterwards I always felt worse than I did before the blowup. This time when I approached my husband and attempted to show respect even though he was saying things that normally would have set me off I didn’t react, I didn’t get upset and I didn’t blow up and afterwards I felt a peace in my heart that I have never felt before. I actually felt better and much more calm. I felt like God was rewarding me and saying well done. I feel that I am doing this because in my heart I believe this is what God wants me to do but I don’t understand any of it. . . . I feel like all of this is a leap of faith for me. I don’t completely believe that God will favor me for following His Word although I have no reason to doubt Him.”
Do you want God’s leading? Another woman wrote, “Painfully, I have not heard from my husband since the divorce over 14 months ago. Even so, I am concentrating on getting to know the One who is making good out of this entire situation. I absolutely love getting to know God, and reading His Word. I’m still a toddler in my spiritual pull-ups but I hope to be in big girl pants soon. I never knew life could be so exciting as when God is leading! I’m so thankful that after living stupid for 48 years, you were able to show me our real God of power and wisdom and goodness. . . . I never knew what power and excitement was (and I had been to Nepal, India and Peru in my search for both years ago) until I got on my knees and realized I was nothing and He is everything. In joyful expectation to know Him and love Him and serve Him. P.S. I continue to be thankful in all things.”
Do you want God’s reality? Another wrote, “The whole atmosphere of our home has changed. I am so grateful to God. . . . God has prevailed and His grace and mercy and reality have come once again, in a powerful way! Your description of how it will be when we see Jesus face to face makes Him so real and with us, even now! He is so real, but sometimes our consciousness isn’t aware of Him. Thanks for making us aware of the realness of His presence. We can almost touch Him now! God rescued our almost ruined marriage. He hears our heart cry! Praise Him.”
You Have Not Because You Ask Not
A couple came to me who were under major stresses. He was unemployed and she was the primary provider. Neither wanted this.
I said, “Have the two of you ever prayed about this, asking God to help you?”
I reminded them of James 4:2: “You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.” I indicated that some estimate only 5 percent of evangelical couples ever pray together. I also challenged them with this thought: “Could God be allowing this trial in order to bring you closer to Him? Could it be that this isn’t about your marriage but about your experience with God Himself?”
This conversation led to the wife and husband having an “a-ha” moment. She had been resentful toward him for failing her, and he was depressed for being viewed as inadequate. Neither had thought it possible to say to God, “Lord, help us! Lord, this is more about our encounter with You than about getting out of this mess.”
How sad that we forfeit what we could receive from God simply because we do not draw near to God to trigger Him drawing near to us.
In marriage there are troubles (1 Corinthians 7:28), and too often we are self-reliant in these times. If we meet a situation beyond our control, we try our best to simply wiggle through it; but we do so in bitterness. There is no inner peace.
Instead, will we imitate married Hannah? She was “greatly distressed” and “prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. . . . ‘O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me. . . .’ She continued praying before the Lord.” As she described it, “I have poured out my soul before the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:10-15). God answered. “For this . . . I prayed, and the Lord has given me my petition which I asked of Him” (1:27).
Entrusting Ourselves to God
Just before Peter instructed the wives and husbands in 1 Peter 3, he wrote of Jesus in chapter 2. After describing what Jesus did toward the Father, Peter wrote, “In the same way, you wives . . .” and “You husbands likewise.”
So what did Jesus do that husbands and wives were to imitate? “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:21-23). Jesus entrusted Himself to the Father.
Peter then says to couples, “For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:12).
In prayer are you entrusting yourself to God and looking to Him to be for you, attending your concern?