Day 5

Remembering God’s Presence

from the reading plan

Deuteronomy 4:29-31, 1 Chronicles 16:7-36, Psalm 73:28, Colossians 3:14-17

I find a lot of wonder in the sights and sounds of the county fair at night. Yep, that’s right, the county fair really is a magical place. It’s a playground with a vast array of possibilities, ranging anywhere from winning a large stuffed unicorn to getting food poisoning.

The summer when my son was ten years old, with great anticipation we’d parked the car in a large field, ready to enter into that wonderland of awe that is the county fair. All of a sudden, my son slammed his finger in the car door. Honestly, I believe for a moment he’d altogether forgotten he was even at the fair. His whole world at that moment was limited to just one word: “DADDY!”

I can say from experiences far beyond that day that nothing takes the wonder and awe out of life faster than pain. And life is often painful. It can be painful because of others but also because of our own actions and attitudes. Pain never has the power to actually change what is true, but it can change what we believe is true—and we tend to live out of what we truly believe. So when God calls us to seek His face and His strength always (1Chronicles 16:11), it’s because He also knows that in our pain and distress, we forget who we are. We need His presence and compassion—His comfort—to remind us (Deuteronomy 4:29,31).

But as for me, God’s presence is my good.
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
so I can tell about all you do.
—Psalm 73:28

I held my son in my arms that night and kissed his finger a thousand times, trying to assure him that he was right to cry and it was going to be okay. As the pain began to subside, he caught a glimpse of the giant ferris wheel off in the distance. Amazed and with his sense of wonder restored, he asked a simple question: “Dad, will you ride that with me?”

When God urges us to draw near to Him, He is inviting us into His comfort, and comfort has the power to heal more than just what hurt me; it can also rewrite the broken narrative pain often invites me to believe. Comfort leads me to thankfulness that I’m not alone and that the God who is with me is kind and merciful. The comfort of His presence also leads me to remember what’s true, which might be the greatest of all gifts. When we remember the greater story of the gospel that is being told in and through our lives, we are given courage to awake from our pain, to look up in wonder and be reminded of who God is and also who we are in relation to Him: those He dearly loves and who bear His image to a watching, waiting, and broken world.

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