Part three in series: What’s in a Name? The Presence of God!
It was a Terrible, Horrible, No good, Very bad day. That’s what it was because after school my mom took us all to the dentist, and Dr. Fields found a cavity just in me. “Come back next week and I’ll fix it,” said Dr. Fields.
“Next week,” I said, “I’m going to Australia.”
—Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, no Good, very Dad Day
by Sue Stratton
Alexander’s cure for his bad day is to go to Australia.
I want to go to Australia too. Want to come? Somehow I think though we will find that Australia does not hold the cure for bad days after all, mostly because we still have to take ourselves along.
Unfortunately that means that we will have to drag about the four caustic marks of being human: shame, blame, fear and hiding.
This tangled four-strand web of inner turmoil is definitely at work in each of our lives whether we are in Australia or not.
So the question remains, “How do we untangle and overcome the results of the fall in our own personal life?” How do we get back into THE Garden? This presents a conundrum not easily pulled apart as we examine our own psyche. However, there is a good place to start.
God is Love
The Apostle John tells us “God is Love” (1 John 4:7). The Greek word used here for “God” is also the same Greek word used in the Septuagint in Gen 1:1 for the Creator and Sustainer of all of Life. He is later revealed to us as YHWH, the One who is dynamically present to each of us at every moment in our lives. The God of the Universe is always present with each of us but the question we must answer is, “How do I become present to HIM?”.
Immersing our conscious minds in the loving presence of YHWH is the very first step in overcoming the shame, hiding, blame and fear in our lives. After all, it was the very presence of YHWH that permeated THE Garden. Before the fall, Adam and Eve basked in God’s Presence 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Every 6 seconds the human mind wanders. If we trained our minds to come present to the GOD who is present to us 10 times each minute, every minute of our day, we would come a long way in practicing the presence of God in our lives.
Present to Love
Let’s not stop there, however. As we practice the presence of God, let’s recognize that the One who is present to us is present to Love us. Did you know that there are literally hundreds of verses that reinforce the truth that God’s intent toward us isn’t to scold or chastise us, or scrutinize us, but it is to love us?
When we really allow God to draw near and love us our fear melts away. 1 John 4:18 tells us:
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18)
Perfected in Love . . . that sounds pretty good to me! These four psychological handicaps not only affect our relationship with God, however. They also raise their ugly head in our relationship with others.
Shame, hiding, fear and blame fall on the opposite spectrum from selfless agape love. It is impossible to love and be loved while filled with a toxic sense of fear and shame. Have you ever tried to blame someone and express love to them at the same time? It can’t be done. It is also impossible to experience love while we are in hiding. We must come out of hiding. This is why YHWH was calling Adam’s name in the garden. He was calling him out of hiding. Today He is still calling . . . He is calling your name and mine. He wants us to come out of our darkness and into the light of His presence.
God’s strategy for coming out of hiding
Here is a strategy for coming out of hiding and overcoming shame, fear and blame. First, practice the presence of God. Begin to ask God to bring you present to Him. Ask Him to reveal His love to you. He is very faithful to answer these requests. There is a good little book by Brother Laurence called The Practice of the Presence of God. This book serves as a great tutorial in this process as we walk with this wonderful 17th century monk humbly through his journey of finding God amidst the simple moments of his life.
Second, meditate on the passages that concentrate on the love of God for you. A simple Bible search on the word ‘love’ reveals hundreds of passages to focus on in your study. Bible Gateway.com and StudyLight.com are good places to start. I have put together a love journal both on my computer and in book form for personal meditation. I go back to this journal again and again.
Third, become a student of your own thoughts. See if you can recognize the influence of the toxic four in your mind and heart. When you spot yourself giving into shame, fear, hiding or blame take active steps to counteract this false way of thinking and acting with Truth. Find scripture to help you reprogram your harmful automatic responses and God will reprogram your inner being so that you are able to love Him, love yourself, and love others.
Fourth, realize that this is a battle and it takes a lifetime of perseverance to win. But, you can win!! Instead of playing ‘Hide and Seek.’ Let’s play ‘Seek’ instead!
Seek, not Hide
Let’s seek the presence of our loving heavenly Father each and every moment of our days. Let’s return to THE Garden of His Presence and watch Him turn those Bad internal days into days spent in the presence of the only One who can love us fully and completely…
…even in Australia!