In his presence

Growing up, I learnt from my Dad, to spend the first few hours or minutes of the morning in quietness and solitude, meditating, reflecting, communing with God, not talking to anyone, not even your spouse or children. It is for me the most precious time of the day. Nowadays, it is not always a quiet time because when you experience God’s presence and discover treasures in his word, there is joy unspeakable and that sometimes creates uncontrollable outbursts of joyful noise, praise, thanksgiving, adoration.

I love to get into that presence from time to time, especially in the very early hours of the morning. To clarify, God’s presence is everywhere and can be experienced 24/7 but we do not always detect or experience it. I love God’s presence for many reasons.

There is fulness of joy in his presence. Joy that cannot be uttered. I realize I need an infusion of joy everyday, because there is enough bad news all around to just weigh down one’s spirits. That joy leads me to realizing nothing is impossible with me and that all is indeed well, now. Internally, my limits dissolve. I catch a glimpse of the overwhelming goodness I have in Christ and that, is intoxicating and addictive. When I have been too long without it, there are withdrawal symptoms. I get more easily irritable and am more liable to sadness.

In his presence, many times I cry, tears flow. How can you not burst into tears in the presence of beauty beyond description? How can you be composed in the presence of love beyond anything we can appreciate? Love that caused God’s death in our stead and raised him up for our deliverance. 

In his presence, there is internal peace beyond reason, regardless of external turmoil. It shows on the countenance too. When I have gone too long without it, I go into a tailspin very easily.

In his presence, understanding dawns. I see more clearly, I download thoughts, existing thoughts are rearranged for better understanding, communication or action. Patterns not seen before emerge. Solutions and ideas float into my mind. Without it, I am dry, clueless, wandering, confused.

In his presence, I develop affection for the Creator and I think that is what he wants from all of his creatures. It is the only way for goodness to overwhelm them, since he is the source of good. Spending time in hispresence creates more desire to submit fully to him and it increases my desire to spend time in hispresence. It creates a virtuous cycle only I can break. Without it, my love for God becomes lukewarm and I become religious, at best.

Spending time in God’s presence creates in me a desire to live right and be faithful to God, to my wife, to those I need to be faithful to. I have many things in common with King David including deep affection for God, so without God’s presence, all forms of unfaithfulness and vice will creep up on me including but not limited to pursuing Bathsheba instead of pursuing God.

Ironically, I am more rebellious the more I spend time in God’s presence. I rebel against external pressure to conform to a set pattern that undermines my essence because I have better understanding in God’s presencethat I am a unique pattern myself. I rebel against mere popularity at times. I rebel at times against the zeitgeist of the times, especially when it deviates from truth. I am more rebellious, the more I spend time in God’s presence, against evil, wickedness and injustice. It is a quiet, gentle but strong rebellion. Without God’s presence, I am still rebellious but against truth, against ultimate reality, against God, against good, against what is right for me, still in a quiet, gentle but strong way. 

If I have anything that is a plus, strength or talent, God’s presence makes it blossom and thrive. Without it, I fall like a pack of cards, even my strengths are turned into weakness.

In his presence, I receive internal and external strength. One of my favorite verses of scripture says, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint.” A few years ago, when I suffered a heart attack, I stood on this promise after I tried to run and could not. I declared I would run again and not grow weary. Now I jog most mornings and I do not even feel my heart. Being in God’s presence renews my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual strength. For me, weakness dissolves in his presence. Without it, I am weak, my immune system breaks down, even common cold gets me down.

In his presence, I am comforted when I need it, when Katrina-type storms of life threaten. Chichi Mbagwu, the sister of a close friend of mine, Chima Mbagwu departed a few days ago, after an excruciating ailment whose outward signs would make anyone shudder from the inside out. I remember that when Gbenga my immediate younger brother departed 10 years ago, even though I sought people’s presence, it was in God’s presence I found true comfort and realized I did not lose Gbenga, he only passed on to glory even though I do not know why then. I know that even today, Chima will find comfort in his presence and we can rest assured that those in Christ who have passed on ahead of us are presently in his presence.

In his presence, death is swallowed up in victory. In your presence O Lord, even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, not for myself, my family, my neighborhood, my society even when I am in the shadow of evil and it is ready to pounce at any moment. I can smile, knowing that the one who conquered death and evil is right here with me, right now. Away from his presence, I live in paranoia.

In His presence, I do not have enemies, I cannot have enemies because if God be with me, who can be against me? The more time I spend outside his presence, the more I am on my own, defenseless.

In his presence, I do not have enough, I have El Shaddai, who is more than enough, so I have surplus, abundance, excess, even in the midst of recession. In his presence, I do not see when recession happens or when the economy tanks. Even my enterprise grows in the downturn. In his presence, even though my beginning be small, I keep growing from strength to strength, from glory to glory until I climax into glory beyond imagination. In his presence, I am as a tree planted by the rivers of water, who is clueless about the state of the economy, who never has a better last year. Away from his presence, I experience the ups and downs of the markets, at best.

In his presence, I look and feel great because that is where I was created to dwell. In his presence, my youth is continually renewed as the eagle’s. I shed my old wings and receive new ones in his presence, so I soar, effortlessly carried up by the updraft of his presence. Away from his presence, I wither, I struggle, I toil in vain.

In his presence, external advantages and qualifications, though I have them, fade into nothingness. In hispresence, I lay gold in the dust. In his presence, any crowns I may have are easily laid at his feet. In hispresence, all that counts is Christ in me, the hope of glory. Away from his presence, I need “my” qualifications, I need “my” bling bling and I need “my” crowns.

In his presence, there is a magnetic field of blessing around me that gets larger and larger the more I spend time in his presence. My family benefits, my enterprises and all stakeholders benefit, the organizations I associate with benefit, my neighborhood benefits, my cities, my countries, the world benefit. In his presence, I am a blessing. If I stray from his presence long enough, a magnetic field of “ungoodness” begins to develop, I not only become endangered, I become a danger.

The more I pursue Him, the more goodness and mercy pursue me. The more I spend time in his presence, the more I become a magnet for goodness and mercy and that is why I will say like King David in the 23rd Psalms that, “I will dwell in the presence of the Lord forever”.

These and much more are available to every human being and yet, at times we are all tempted to stray! But the more we stray or keep away from His presence, the more his grace and mercy draw us into his presence, into the presence of the invisible One who created and sustains the universe, before whom the angels must bow but before whom I/We have a standing invitation to enter boldly, 24/7. What a privilege, what grace!

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