Practising the Presence of God
“Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him
with all their hearts.” Psalm 119:2
Obeying laws is often seen as hard grind – they are there to repress our exuberance and hold us to some kind of slavish duty it seems.
NOT SO declares the writer of this Psalm.
Obedience to the law of God leads to joy and a sense of delight in knowing and following the ways of the Creator God. One very ancient prayer puts it this way: ‘His service is perfect freedom.’
Discovering and obeying the law of God is not a pathway to being accepted by Him, but is the fruit of love for Him when we appreciate His goodness and mercy.
That sometimes involves us in a voyage of searching and discovery as we set out to know God better for ourselves. Joy is not a happen-chance, it is an outcome of obedience to the God who loves us.
v 2 Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts.
Most of us, at one time or another, find ourselves under orders. It may be as simple as starter’s orders, crouching and waiting for the gun to fire to begin the race, or as precise as the sergeant-major’s orders on the parade ground. Whatever the situation, you were alert and waiting for the order to be given. You had been trained, you listened for the command, and you did exactly what was expected. If the order was “Quick March” you responded immediately – and woe betide you if you were the one left standing, rooted to the spot in a daydream!
As a Christian, I am under orders, and obedience is expected. I have said ‘Yes’ to Jesus as Lord, and gladly submit to Him. But the surprising thing is that obedience brings joy, not the drudgery of some kind of harsh, legal constraint. To obey is to be in step with the God of love and mercy who desires the very best for us.
Getting to that point needs three straightforward steps:
First, a willingness to listen to what God is saying, tuned-in to God through prayer and reflection on his word in the Bible. That is what we mean by practising the presence of God. We submit our minds to hear his voice, whether by reading for ourselves or listening in company with others.
Then, focussing on what is said to the exclusion of a myriad of other voices. The discordant, noisy thunder of life can drown out the still, small voice of God.
Then finally, the readiness of a submissive will to respond gladly to what we hear.
Far from that being a pathway to a repressed and joyless life, it is the open door to a life of joy with God.