Jesus is a good teacher.
I’m not always a good learner.
Often times, I have to repeat the thing that I’ve learned over and over in my head until it becomes either routine to say it, or until I get so used to that reality that I live it out. Even more often, however, I don’t even repeat what it is I’m learning, and I forget it until He graciously teaches it to me again later.
My Bible is littered with notes – things that the Holy Spirit says when I’m reading or says via a preacher that I write down so I don’t forget it, and/or in hopes that when I read that passage again, it’ll light up and that truth will sink a little deeper into my heart.
You could say that I’m not the most proficient in hiding His word in my heart, that I might not sin against Him (see: Psalm 119:11; and see all of Psalm 119 if you’d like reinforcement of the importance of the Word of God.)
But here is a truth I’m finding – something I’m not moving on from until I get it, something so profound that it has changed my very constitution and the way I respond to things:
God doesn’t part with us.
I know, I know – “I shall never leave you nor forsake you; I’ll be with you until the end of the age; there is a Friend who sticks closer than a brother,” etc. etc. I should know that by now. I should know, after ten years as a Christian, that God doesn’t say, “bye!” to us.
But when I got to thinking about my prayer habits, my reading habits, and my habitual habits, I came to realize that I didn’t know that at all. You act upon the things you know, right?
I prayed like God was a friend I met for coffee or for a meal once in a while. I prayed like God was the spouse I would argue with in the car, and not speak with for a while. I prayed like God was a celebrity (or like I was one.) I prayed like God was a guest Who was coming into town for a few days before returning home. In short, I prayed like “amen” meant “goodbye.”
But “amen” ≠ “goodbye.”
Amen doesn’t mean you and God get in your respective cars and each go home, regardless of whether it was a good prayer or a bad prayer.
Amen doesn’t mean that God leaves your side until you call Him up again and say, “let’s hang out,” or, “I need to talk.”
Don’t get me wrong – we often don’t pray. I often don’t pray. It’s a practice I hope to do more. And God, in His patience and forbearance, will wait for us to approach Him again, He’ll answer when we call, and He’ll wait when we think we’ve got it all under control.
But God doesn’t leave.
Think about that.
Prayer, while it is an incredible gift and a remarkable practice, isn’t the only time when we access (or can access) the presence of God. God is always around. That changes everything. That means the comfort you feel in prayer can be carried with you outside of prayer, because the Comforter walks with you, He lives in you. The radical holiness we encounter comes with us after “amen,” because the Holy One sticks with us always. The wisdom we discover; the conviction we feel; the love that embraces us; all of that comes with you after prayer. At least, it can. And long may 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!