The practice of presence

This is a summary of the sermon we heard at Sojourn Fairfax on Sunday. The title was, "The practice of presence."

In this hurried life, our spiritual lives and connection with God is often what gets pushed to the side. 

There are times where our souls are parched. But often times we don't find refreshment in the things that we need, in His word, in relationship with our Lord. 

We read Psalm 131 vs 1-3. O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. 

Preoccupied

David has come to realize that he's not in control of his life. We don't stand in the mirror and say, "I am God." But the reality for most of us, its much more subtle than that - that we can master and control our lives. That we can manipulate circumstances to our wants and our desires. Simply put, its that we can know all things, be all things and fix all things.

I am the master of the fate: I am the captain of my soul.

Gyms promote a message and preach something to us. "I built this" or "I can do it all in my lifetime" are two slogans at nearby gyms. It's easy in this culture to assume we can do these things, but without God, they're pointless and fruitless.

David admits in verse 1 there are things he does not understand and that's freeing. It allows us to throw off pride and presumption. Be aware though because it's easy to become preoccupied and cling to the details of our lives. 

The first thing we need to do this morning is ask ourselves some simple questions:

  1. Am I preoccupied?

  2. Am I distracted?

  3. Am I burnt out or bitter?

There is hope for you and for me. 

Presence

In contrast to being preoccupied, David has sought to calm and quiet his soul (verse 2). The core of who we are is our soul — like a weened child with his mother (e.g., a picture of dependence and grace).

Being with Mom, can often be what a child needs to be calm — it's a calming and tenderness presence in their life. In that moment, that child has no worry at all.

David is saying, instead of being preoccupied to be like God, he's calmed in the presence of God. 

t's not child likeness in being naive. It's actually a sign of maturity. Kids don't have to worry about where their next meal will come from because they can trust that they're taken care of. 

"But I've got so much going on in my life!"

But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:40-42, ESV) 

Martha is working to get all these things done so everyone can have a good time but Mary, her sister, was just sitting there with Jesus instead of helping.

But Martha was distracted... 

Jesus isn't calling us to irresponsibility. He's calling to us to keep first things first. Having things to do is wrong, but it's not to be more important than time at the feet of Jesus.

We're addicted to immediacy, we confuse activity with achievement. Our culture preaches to us and will always give us a message. When food, relationships and other things become more important than sitting at the feet of Jesus, than we're preoccupied and not present with God.

We have to slow down to take advantage of His presence.

  1. Rest for our souls is first found in coming to Christ.

  2. For those of us who know Him, we come to Him (both corporately or individually) for our joy —

    to be sanctified and become more like Him. 

Gathering with the church is one of the most important things you can do each week. But individually we should read His word and commune with Him.

You have to plan for that. Get a paper bible. Phones aren't inherently bad, but although the scriptures are there, so is everything else.

Sitting at the feet of Jesus never just happens.

We can do this. We can be creative. We can ask others who are in similar life stages. But most of us have time.

Do we have one foot in burn out and one foot out? Will we linger long with the Lord? We need more margin and time to linger long and that may mean we have to say no to certain things. 

Every moment is an opportunity for recognize God's presence.

Purpose

Our purpose is to be a people and community of hope. We have been rescued and restored and reconciled with the ever living God.