I Can Never Get Away From Your Presence!

Psalm 139 tells us a lot about ourselves, and about our Creator. When I was preparing to move to Africa in 1980, I came across Psalm 139 and was struck by many things, but perhaps most of all by this declaration by the psalmist to God: I can never get away from your presence!” Honestly, I was a tiny bit fearful as a young twenty something to trust it would all be OK. On the flip side, I was excited to test out some of these promises. [emphasis mine]

I can never escape from your Spirit!
    I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
    if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night—
12     but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you.

Darkness and light are the same to you.

A few decades later and well over a million airline miles, I can confidently say these promises are true!

Though I have not been to Heaven or the grave, verse 8 reminds me how my son literally drowned in a half bucket of mop water at 6 months old and miraculously survived to thrive. It was not pleasant or easy, but I found out what it meant to be buoyed up by the prayers of others. I maintained a deep sense if the presence of God through it all.

From verse 9, I have flown on the wings of the morning many times over the years. Watching the sun rise from 35,000 feet is beautiful. I have watched the sun set just before sunset, then taken off to see it “rise” again. We chase it west a while, but it is faster than we are so it sets a second time. These opportunities help me experience the wonder of our Creator and His creation. He is there.

I started to count the oceans I’ve dwelt by, if even for a few days, but it’s easier to say I have found the presence of God on five continents. Not to say anything about me, but rather of our Makers ability to meet needs and hear prayers from any corner of the planet.

What about the darkness in verses 11 & 12? My photo is a feeble attempt to capture the idea that regardless of our  interpretation of our situation. There is another reality than the one we see with our eyes. The light from the one who both imagined and created light by saying, “let there be light, and there was light” is able to able to see us in the dark and is with us in the dark. This is because it is never really as dark as we might think it is.

How do we experience the presence of God in our “darkness?” We ask and we look. It is amazing what we can ‘see’ when begin to ask to see it, then look for it. Since I discovered these verses decades ago, I have put them to the test many times. Through many events that initially felt dark and overwhelming, when I slowed down to look and listen, I can safely say I have never been disappointed.

Andrea Van Boven (Madden): I like to think I am a radical lover of Jesus, but I live in a house and pay bills and look like I fit in with respectable society, like most people. What goes on in my head and heart are hopefully the things that betray the look of "normal" that comes at first glance. I hope those things inside of me seep out to actions as well as words of hope and encouragement. I pray that these in turn will lead others to know the loving creator who knows us so intimately that he has a number for every hair on every head.

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