Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
At some point in our lives, either long ago as a child, or during life challenges along the way, we have probably experienced a lack of strength, direction, or hope. We may have felt distanced from God, isolated and alone, and yet we longed to reconnect to our Source. At those times, if we allowed our minds to be still, we may have also known a quiet, but persistent and intense desire to unite with something beyond us; some unseen and inexplicable Power of good beyond reason and thought that drew us ever onward.
Perhaps at these times, we encountered a book or audio that calmed our aching heart, or we spoke with a friend whose company eased our pain. Maybe we gained new direction from an unexpected source or insight, or perhaps over time we simply surrendered the feelings and they eased seemingly on their own.
This is how Spirit moves in and through us: a soothing balm to our soul in times of need; an empowering presence that strengthens us and a gentle whisper to our heart when we seek guidance. I have come to understand the idea of God to be the absolute good that is readily available in and through us, bringing a sense of harmony and tranquility to our lives.
Years ago, I abandoned my long-held concept of God as that ‘old man in the sky’, keeping track of my wrong doings and directing the world from an untouchable driver’s seat. He was angry, vengeful and He loved, hated, blessed, cursed, created, destroyed and lived only ‘out there’ in the heavens.
Emerson taught: “When we have broken with the God of tradition and ceased to worship the God of our intellect, then God fires us with His presence.”
Those Old Testament concepts eventually gave way to the Christ’s teaching that God was loving Spirit, present within us and all around us, not just in churches or sacred places but everywhere. Omnipresent. Another term to describe this picture of God is the word “ubiquitous”. This word means “equal-where-ness”. The idea is that God is fully present everywhere. God is always and everywhere at hand.
1Kings 8:27 “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens even the highest heavens cannot contain you, how much less this temple I have built”.
God is with us at all times. This idea is conveyed throughout the Bible. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” Psalm 23:4 Hebrews 13:5 “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
God can’t leave us; it is the nature of God to be with us everywhere we are always. It is impossible for God not to be with us. There is nothing we can do to make God more present or less present. All we can do is raise or lower our awareness of God’s Presence.
So, God is always with us, and since God is Love, love is always with us. Joy is always with us. Happiness is always with us. We simply choose to evoke these qualities from within us.
As Emerson said: “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we will find it not.”
And we do carry it with us, because God the Good, the beautiful is always with us. What we see therefore reflects our awareness of God’s beauty, joy, peace, and love. If our awareness of God is diminished by our distracted focus, if we allow life experience to diminish our attitude, we can forget our connection with Spirit. The Presence of God has been promised to us. We just need to remember and trust.
A little girl had nightmares and sometimes the only way she could go to sleep was to climb into bed with Mommy and Daddy. One time Mom had to be away on business for a weekend. That’s when Dad came up with a new solution. He said, “Rachel, I have an idea. While Mom is away, suppose I sleep in your room on the top bunk bed.” She thought it was a great idea and that night, Rachel went to sleep on time. A couple of hours later, when her dad crawled into the top bunk, she was sound asleep and she slept like that all night.
The next morning, Dad congratulated her on a full night’s sleep. Rachel said, “It’s because you were in the room with me”. “But how did you know I was there,” Dad asked. “You were asleep when I came in and you never woke up the whole night”. Rachel answered, “Because you promised you would be there.”
God has promised always to be with us. Our part is to be aware, to remember, and to trust.
Most of us are familiar with the poem “Footprints in the Sand” by either Margaret Fishback Powers, Burrell Webb, Mary Stevenson, Carolyn Joyce Carty, or one of 12 others. The authorship is still under dispute.
One night a man had a dream. He dreamed
he was walking along the beach with the LORD.
Across the sky flashed scenes from his life.
For each scene he noticed two sets of
footprints in the sand: one belonging
to him, and the other to the LORD.
When the last scene of his life flashed before him,
he looked back at the footprints in the sand.
He noticed that many times along the path of
his life there was only one set of footprints.
He also noticed that it happened at the very
lowest and saddest times in his life.
This really bothered him and he
questioned the LORD about it:
"LORD, you said that once I decided to follow
you, you'd walk with me all the way.
But I have noticed that during the most
troublesome times in my life,
there is only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why when
I needed you most you would leave me."
The LORD replied:
"My son, my precious child,
I love you and I would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering,
when you see only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you."
It is not only during the challenges in life that we are accompanied by God’s Presence. Hear the entire Prayer of Protection, written by James Dillet Freeman, which, astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin carried the prayer with him on the Apollo 11 mission to the moon in 1969:
The Light of God surrounds me. The Love of God enfolds me. The Power of God protects me. The Presence of God watches over me. The Mind of God guides me. The Life of God flows through me. The Laws of God direct me. The Peace of God abides within me. The Joy of God uplifts me. The Strength of God renews me. The Beauty of God inspires me. Wherever I am, God is!
As we become aware of our new and expanded understanding of God our life becomes fuller and filled with wonder. The presence of God surrounds and keeps us secure. The power of God not only protects us, it abides within us. God enfolds us with His mighty love for good. The wisdom of God blesses us with His genius, enriching our lives to the highest degree. These natures of God are available to us as we open our awareness to them. Whatever strength we require is available; whatever guidance and wisdom is accessible through Spirit. Our challenge is always in remembering, in choosing, in trusting, in being aware.
Sometimes it is difficult to make the connection with something that is with us all the time. It is like the little fish that asks, “So what is water, anyways?” We are so close to the Source that we fail to recognize it.
Just as the ocean is in the wave, and the wave cannot be separated from the ocean, there is no way we can be separated from God. A little wave was bobbing along happily in the ocean. Suddenly it notices that the waves in front of it are crashing against the shore. Afraid, the little wave cried out “Look out! Look out! We’re going to crash!!” Another wave brought calm, saying, “Relax little wave, relax. You are safe. You are not just a wave; you are a part of the whole ocean!”
We are one with Spirit as the wave is one with the ocean. We are told that in God we live, move, and have our being. Sometimes the noises, distractions, and busyness of life make us forget to listen within and seek union with God. This is why it is important at some point during the day to focus on Spirit, to bring our minds and bodies to a calm place and ‘rest in the Lord’; to embrace the inner peace and calm rather than the agitation of our physical lives. We are instructed to “Be still and know that I am God.”
There is another prayer by James Dillet Freeman that went to the moon. On August 7, 1971, the poem “I Am There” was famously carried to the moon by Apollo 15 astronauts James B. Irwin, David R. Scott, and Alfred M. Worden. Stored in a microfilm file, the poem was intended to be left there for future space explorations.
I Am There – James Dillet Freeman
Do you need Me?
I am there.
You cannot see Me, yet I am the light you see by.
You cannot hear Me, yet I speak through your voice.
You cannot feel Me, yet I am the power at work in your hands.
I am at work, though you do not understand My ways.
I am at work, though you do not recognize My works.
I am not strange visions. I am not mysteries.
Only in absolute stillness, beyond self, can you know Me as I am,
and then but as a feeling and a faith.
Yet I am there. Yet I hear. Yet I answer.
When you need Me, I am there.
Even if you deny Me, I am there.
Even when you feel most alone, I am there.
Even in your fears, I am there.
Even in your pain, I am there.
I am there when you pray and when you do not pray.
I am in you, and you are in Me.
Only in your mind can you feel separate from Me,
for only in your mind are the mists of “yours” and “mine.”
Yet only with your mind can you know Me and experience Me.
Empty your heart of empty fears.
When you get yourself out of the way, I am there.
You can of yourself do nothing, but I can do all.
And I am in all.
Though you may not see the good, good is there, for I am there.
I am there because I have to be, because I am.
Only in Me does the world have meaning; only out of Me does the world take form;
only because of Me does the world go forward.
I am the law on which the movement of the stars
and the growth of living cells are founded.
I am the love that is the law's fulfilling.
I am assurance. I am peace. I am oneness. I am the law that you can live by. I am the love that you can cling to. I am your assurance. I am your peace. I am one with you.
Though you fail to find Me, I do not fail you.
Though your faith in Me is unsure,
My faith in you never wavers, because I know you,
because I love you.
Beloved, I am there.
Whatever circumstances you are experiencing in your life, it is my prayer that you understand that you are not alone. Rest in the truth that God is ever-present. Wherever you are God is, and all is well.