Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
February 24, 2019
His presence comes like sunrise
I have never seen God. I have never heard his voice audibly. But I have a constant sense of his presence with me. Not beside me but in me. In my mind, my heart, my soul. I cannot explain it but the longer I live, the more certain I am of his abiding presence.
I talk to God. Sometimes aloud but mostly in my heart. When I awaken each morning, I thank him for my life, my wife, my family, my friends, my calling. Then I surrender to him again. I surrender my life, my plans, my fears, my day.
I don’t address God as “God.” That seems a bit stilted, too formal for me. He is my Father; I am his child. So usually I say “Lord,” or “Jesus,” or sometimes “Lord Jesus.” Am I addressing God when I say “Jesus”? Yes, because Jesus is God. Remember he said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.”
When I pray aloud within the fellowship of believers, I usually address God as “Loving Father.” That has been my custom so long I cannot remember why I begin with those two words. I think it was my reaction to sometimes hearing God addressed as “Great Architect of the Universe” or “Eternal God, Creator and Preserver of Life.” While such titles are correct, the use of such words seems more likely an effort to impress the audience than to share concerns with a loving Father.
I owe my sense of the presence of God primarily to the holy scriptures which teach clearly that believers may enjoy a living relationship with the living God. Beyond that, I am indebted to three Christian writers who have profoundly influenced my thinking. Those writers are Frank Laubach, E. Stanley Jones and Ralph Cushman. Laubach and Cushman I have known only through their writing; Jones I met in my first Ashram experience.
Frank Laubach is well known for his life-long practice of the presence of God. As a young man, Laubach penned in his journal: “Can we have that contact with God all the time? All the time awake, fall asleep in His arms, and awaken in His presence, can we attain that? Can we do His will all the time? Can we think His thoughts all the time?” In response to his questions, Laubach wrote, “I choose to make the rest of my life an experiment in answering this question.”
Faithful to his decision, Laubach was dramatically transformed as he cultivated the habit of practicing the presence of God. Years later he would write, “Things which I did with a strain before, I now do easily and with no effort whatever. I worry about nothing and lose no sleep. Even the mirror reveals a new light in my eyes.” The testimony of Laubach inspired me to believe that I too could embrace the presence of the God whose very name is “God with Us” (Emmanuel). The good news for believers is that God is not only with us but in us.
Evangelist E. Stanly Jones introduced me to the practice of thinking that the living Christ speaks to us by way of the “Inner Voice.” When Jesus is Lord, believers can “hear,” with the ears of the heart, the Inner Voice guiding, encouraging, correcting, teaching and comforting. Jesus made that clear in the tenth chapter of John. He is the Good Shepherd. He knows his sheep and they know him. They listen to his voice and follow where he leads. For many years I have loved the idea of listening to the Inner Voice of Jesus directing, and sometimes redirecting my life. Many times, in the course of the day, I will ask, in my heart, “Lord, shall I speak to this person or not?” “Shall I do this or shall I do that?” Usually, but not always, I “hear” his Inner Voice telling me what He wants me to do. Joy often follows obedience to his direction.
Of all the poems I have stored in my heart, none has blessed me more than Ralph Cushman’s, ”I Met God in the Morning.” It fits me because I am an early riser so I have tried to follow Cushman’s advice to seek God’s presence in the morning. Lock these inspiring words in your heart and they will bless you for years to come:
I met God in the morning
When my day was at its best,
And His Presence came like sunrise
Like a glory in my breast.
All day long the Presence lingered,
All day long He stayed with me,
And we sailed in perfect calmness
O’er a very troubled sea.
Other ships were blown and battered,
Other ships were sore distressed,
But the winds that seemed to drive them
Brought to us a peace and rest.
Then I thought of other mornings,
With a keen remorse of mind,
When I, too, had loosed the moorings
With the Presence left behind.
So I think I know the secret,
Learned from many a troubled way;
You must seek Him in the morning
If you want Him through the day.
I have no way of knowing how many more mornings I shall awaken on planet earth. I only hope that on each of my remaining days I shall awaken with the glorious sense of His Presence coming like sunrise, and that he will hear me joyously say, “Good Morning Lord Jesus; thank you for life and all my blessings. I gladly surrender again my life to you. Please show me how I may serve you as we live this day together. Amen and Glory!” + + +