Earlier this week, I started listening to William Lane Craig’s Defenders podcast. I’d heard about Craig for years, and had read excerpts from his books or quotes from his presentations, but I’d never gone any further with his work. I figured I should change that, especially for how often he is referenced. I already enjoy listening to Ravi Zacharias for his philosophical and sometimes passionate approach to Christian apologetics, and I equally appreciate J. Warner Wallace for his academic and evidential approach (both of these descriptions are very oversimplified, I am aware). It’s funny to me, because while apologetics discourse is generally considered an intellectual and logical field, I have had more personal and emotional revelations from God through listening to these arguments than from more traditional sermons. What that says about me, I’ll leave to you, but my brief time thus far with William Lane Craig has been no less rewarding.
Craig begins this podcast series, which are simply recordings of an adult Sunday school class he taught years ago, by discussing the attributes of God (e.g. does He exist outside of time or eternally within all time?), and the subject matter is admittedly pretty heady stuff. “Heady stuff” …yeah, that’s the scholarly term ;). I was struck by the notion, though, when Craig was discussing the elements of God’s omnipresence (being everywhere), that He is always with me. Craig mentioned the curious phrase we often use in our prayers, “God, please be with so-and-so,” when the Bible is very clear that God is never NOT with us. Of course, I understand the intended semantics of the phrase and why we use it, but I think Craig makes a very strong point in that using such a phrase might skew our casual thoughts about God’s presence in our lives. I have been aiming to excise this phrase from my own prayers, now, because I believe that the Biblical text proclaims very clearly that God is always with us and that any perceived distance is the fault of our own lens on the situation. So, instead, I ask that those who are the subject of my prayer will simply remember, have their eyes opened, or accept the spiritual things of which they are in need. More them coming to God, instead of asking God to do what He’s already doing in “being with” them.
God is always with us. That concept is something I was well aware of intellectually, but it hit me anew with the reality of its meaning. It’s throughout the Bible, plain as day, and it’s sad how many things we tend to forget, even though we “know” them. I can’t sell you on the idea with any brand-new argument of logic and fact, because that’s not what this was. Rather, it was a very personal “oh yeah” moment. For the last several weeks, in an effort to know God more, I have spent every morning in prayer (a subject worth writing about, in its own right), and I am blessed to have had this reminder of God’s CONTINUAL presence, courtesy of Craig’s podcast.
I won’t delve into the mockery or disbelief that the idea of an ever-present God sometimes comes about, but for me, this was nothing but a feeling of peace. Granted, one of my initial thoughts was the brief reminder of some of the sinful acts and thoughts that I have committed (some habitually, sadly) and how atrocious a thought that was when combined with the fact of God’s ever-presence, but this regret, if anything, was a great inspiration to change. The role of God in our lives is certainly a very deep discussion, which is why the intellectual approach of apologetic studies appeals to me, so I won’t even graze the ideas of free-will and the level to which God controls Creation, but I am convinced that we won’t change our ways until we are willing to do so.
This was my nudge to change.
Over the last several days, this idea of God’s presence has been a real blessing, because with every thought I have, every action I take, every interaction I have with someone else, I am keenly aware that I am not alone. This extends into all life experiences, definitely, from strength in light of tragedy to joyful patience and so on, but what’s really impacted me is the freedom from sin. Sin generally seeks out the darkness; we do and think things which we would not want to be exposed, and this is what sin does best — it hides. It’s like a mold that spawns in the shadow, until it has a strong enough hold and is able to present itself in the light. When the reminder of God being present in our lives every second of every day sits in the back of one’s head, though, there is suddenly no excuse for it. Jesus’ commands of, “Now, go and sin no more,” have occasionally befuddled me, I admit, in terms of how to approach that idea as an imperfect human being who, try as I might, still fails. This wonderful reminder that I had the other day, though, has helped me understand what that concept really means and how to follow it. Please be aware that I am not saying that I have suddenly achieved a state of perfection, though ;). I guess what I’m trying to express is that it’s a point of perception. Whatever we, as Christians, believe God will provide (willpower against temptation, peace, wisdom, etc.), I think it’s pretty darn important to remember that He isn’t doing so over a huge chasm between us and some distant throne room.
God is immediately in our presence, always, and I am very, very glad to have been reminded of this :).