Where can I go from Your Presence?

We live in an image management society. We want people to know us, but we also want to control what people know about us. We’re one way at work, but another way at home. We’re one way at church, but then we have our secret habits in our social lives. We a lot of times are split and torn between who we are, and how we present ourselves to others. We know what parts of our lives to share and to hide. We do this though with God too. We think He doesn’t know what we are doing in secret, but the fact is that He does. As the Psalmist David puts it “Where can I go from Your presence?” The answer? Nowhere.

In my life, I like to present myself as someone who has it together. No, I’m not perfect, but I usually don’t let people into the darkest places of my soul, other than my therapist and mentor.

I want people to view me in a certain way. So when I’m healthy, I’m around. I’m talking. I’m joyous. I’m cracking jokes.

When I’m not okay though, I just disappear. I don’t want people to see me at my worst. I’m supposed to be someone who is a leader and someone who encourages. Those times when I feel like I can’t be those things, I disappear. Because I want to have something to offer. I want to be someone that people can lean on and turn to and be encouraged by, and I know that when I’m struggling in sin or cravings that I can’t be that person.

So I disappear. I stop going to small groups. Support groups. Church. I run to the unhealthy things, even though it brings me great fear and anguish, instead of running to the light because I don’t want people to see me in my messiness.

The dis reality that I live in even extends to my relationship with God. I act like He doesn’t know. That as long as I don’t acknowledge what is going on then I can just keep doing it, even though I feel extremely guilty.

God though constantly reminds me though of this: Because you are mine, I’m not going to let you go. I’m going to blow up whatever bridges or openings you have to your cravings, and even when you head down certain roads, I’m going to make it extremely difficult for you to get to where you think you want to go. The truth of life is that I have great plans for you, even as you try to derail what I have planned with your own reckless abandon. You are mine and I got you. Stop fighting against me. 

It’s kind of frustrating, especially to my sinful flesh, that God won’t let me go. Like in those moments, when all I crave is sin and death, and God just stops me, it drives me insane. It’s also super encouraging though to my true self. To Joseph. That even when I’m at my worst, and even when I’m not at all seeking God or His truth, there is nothing that I can do to ruin His plans for my life, nor anything that I can do that will take me from His hands.

At times, I want to. I want to ruin my life and his plans because of my own short sighted-ness. Not that I really want to deliberately ruin my life, but in those moments of intense cravings, I desire the ungodly things over the Godly. The impure over the pure. I see the thing, the action, the desire as more beautiful than Jesus and who I am in Him in those moments.

Thank goodness that He doesn’t let go of me in those moments. He doesn’t let me ruin the good things in my life. I mean, yeah, there are consequences to my actions, but only what happens, is what He allows. Nothing happens outside of His presence, knowledge, or control.

David writes about this reality of God’s all knowing Presence in Psalm 139.

139 Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

 

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.

 

13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

So according to David, God:

  • Has searched Him and known Him
  • Knows when he sits down and when he stands up
  • Discerns his thoughts from afar
  • Searches out his path and his lying down
  • Is Acquainted with all his ways
  • Knows David’s words before he even utters them
  • Is with David, before and behind, and His hand is on Him
  • Is with David wherever He goes (Heaven, Sheol, the sky, the depths of the ocean)
  • Is with David in the darkness and in the light
  • Formed David’s inward parts
  • Knitted him together in his mother’s womb
  • Knew David’s frame as he was made in secret
  • Saw David’s unformed substance
  • Wrote every one of David’s days in his book.

This is the deepest place of knowing. Knowing so deep that it goes beyond even our understanding, and our only response should mirror David’s “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.”

David was so blown away by this reality of God’s knowing Him that He couldn’t even wrap His mind around it. It was way too much for Him to even comprehend. Instead of trying to figure it out, He just worshiped.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you.

19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
    O men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent;
    your enemies take your name in vain.[b]
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
    And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with complete hatred;
    I count them my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts![c]
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting![d]

David acknowledges God’s greatness and otherness, and then asks him for help. Help him to deal with his enemies, and help him to know the intentions of his heart. Help him see if there is any grievous way in him, and lead him in the way everlasting.

In summation, God knows you and me, and nothing we do is hidden from Him. Whether we are in the mountaintops in life, He is there. Whether we are in the valleys, He is there. Whether in the confusion and the chaos, the ripping and the tearing, He is there. He is with us.

That is such an encouraging thing to me. To know that even when I can’t or won’t let others into my mess, that God is not fooled or unaware. He knows me, fully. When I lie down, and when I stand up. When I’m healthy, and when I’m obsessed. When I’m tired, and when I’m rested. When I’m frustrated, and when I’m joyful. When I’m down, and when I’m up. When I’m hopeful and when I’m hopeless. When I’m hiding, and when I’m open. He knows it all.

I don’t know where you are at today. You may be in a valley, or on a mountain top, or sitting down in a crook in the side of the mountain. Know that God knows and is with you there. All you have to do is acknowledge Him, worship Him, and ask Him for what you need.

Image result for where can i go from your presence

Picture taken from: https://pastorfrankbailey.net/category/psalms/psalm-139/

Blessings.

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