The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers. May he not leave us or forsake us, that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers. (1 Kings 8:57-58 ESV)
What a prayer. I love it. It’s such a picture of the glorious reversal of the Gospel.
This world is filled with religions and relationships that will train you to walk in the right way so that you don’t get left or abandoned. Do it right and I’ll stick with you. Obey me and I’ll bless you with my presence. Plenty of people will look us in the eyes and say: I’ll never leave or forsake you, but we’ve been around long enough to know the conditions that accompany such a promise. I’ll never leave you or forsake you as long as…you don’t betray me, don’t ignore me, don’t stop loving me.
In the middle of all that, right smack in the middle of the Old Covenant, comes the whisper of the great Gospel reversal.
Not: God, be with us because we’ve obeyed you. Not: God, be with us because we’ve sought you. Not: God, be with us because we haven’t failed you, betrayed you or ignored you.
I want His presence today. I want to feel and experience His nearness. I want to know that He will never leave or forsake me; that He hears my prayers today and that He understands my weariness with this world. I need Him to meet with me.
And so I sit here in this coffee shop, my heart seeking Him and begging for Him and I cannot shake this subversive feeling, somewhere deep inside, that God owes me His presence for all this diligent seeking. If I sit here and seek Him for this hour, and I do not feel Him near, He has failed me, wronged me. I’ve done my part, He better do His.
But here is this glorious truth, spoken today through His Word as loudly as if He’d sat here beside me in the flesh and whispered it in my ear: Let your seeking be evidence that I AM already near.
If I seek, He has shown up. If my heart is inclined to Him, it is evidence that He is near. If I do my part, He’s already done His and is working in me to empower me to do mine.
If you work hard today, know that God doesn’t owe you. You hard work is evidence that He is giving to you. You have worked with the strength that He supplied. If you love someone unloveable, know that you haven’t produced something for God, He has produced for you. He has given you His promised Spirit who has born fruit in your heart.
If you sit and cry out to God today and wonder: Where is He? I’m crying out! Why isn’t He near?? – let your heart take comfort. Let the cries that rise from you sing out the truth that God is near. Let your longing for Him be the evidence that He has not left nor forsaken you. May your desperation for His presence be the proof of His promises.