God Is

Day 15

No Longer Alone

Read your Bible: Psalm 46

Spotlight Verse:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.Psalm 46:1

One of the last things Elvis Presley ever wrote was a note he crumpled up and threw away. According to USA Today, an aide saw him toss it into a trash can and fished it out the morning Elvis was found dead. It read in part:

“I feel so alone sometimes. Help me, Lord.”28

Alfred Hitchcock, the most famous film director of his day, spoke these mysterious words on his deathbed:

“I am lost in… a sea of… alone.”29

Albert Einstein, the most recognizable face of the 20th century, said:

“It is strange to be known so universally and yet to be so alone.”30

My guess is that you can relate.

Tom Wolfe, author of Bonfire of the Vanities, said “Loneliness is the most common human experience.”31

Mother Teresa observed, “Loneliness is the poverty of the Western world.”32

Lonely Planet

And it seems to be getting worse. Despite the popularity of social media, a Carnegie-Mellon research project showed that the more time people spend online, the lonelier they perceive themselves to be.33

This is serious.

Dr. James Lynch is the author of another study showing lonely adults have a death rate twice as high as adults who are not lonely. Loneliness, he says, is a “lethal poison.”34

What’s the cure for this epidemic of loneliness?

While human companionship is essential, I believe deep down we’re longing for connection to the One who will never leave us. Our thirst is filled only by the God who is here, the God who always was here and always will be here.

Theologians call this the omnipresence of God.

He is With You

Omnipresence means all-present. God is everywhere. To be more precise, God is in every place, all the time.

He’s right there when you’re hurting.

He’s right there when you’re tempted.

He’s right there when you feel weak.

Omnipresence does not mean God is every thing. That’s pantheism. That equates the Creator with the creation.

According to the Bible, everything is not God, although God is everywhere and created everything. He exists independently of His creation, like an artist and his painting. If nothing in creation existed, there would still be God, who alone is uncreated.

This may be the most difficult attribute of God for humans to understand because we live in a three-dimensional world — we’re limited by space and time. So usually when we think of omnipresence we think it means something like this: God is so big that a layer of God is spread out over all of creation, like a blanket— as if there’s a part of God in Santa Cruz, a part of God down in Brazil, and a part of Him way past Jupiter. But that wouldn’t be omnipresence; that would just be immensity.

This is an important distinction, because most of us were raised with a sense of God’s transcendence — which is true. God is transcendent, higher, beyond. But omnipresence teaches God is also always intensely near.

Omnipresence means all of God is everywhere at once. God is free from the constraints of time and space, so all of Him can be everywhere at the same time.

Present and Present-Tense

To say that God is omnipresent means this statement is always true:

“All of God is right here, right now.”

100% of God is here with me now as I write these words.

100% of God is there with you as you read these words.

And even though I wrote these words before you read these words, God is with us both simultaneously!

Psalm 46 emphasizes this: It opens by saying God is ever-present.

Different commentators have tried to capture the intent of this Hebrew phrase in words like: He is always immediately present; He never withdraws; He is close at our side and ready to help.

Psalm 46 goes on to twice repeat that He is with us. Because he believes this, the author says, he will never fear — “even if the earth gives way!” And we know something about the fear that can grip you during an earthquake or landslide here in California!

Why Do I Feel a Distance?

Most people think of God not as very present, but as very remote. I think that’s because we have an accurate a sense of our distance from God’s holiness — while God is everywhere, we are metaphorically a million miles away from God’s righteousness.

This is the feeling of spiritual alienation the Bible talks about.

When Psalmists write that they long for God’s closeness, or that it feels like God has abandoned them, they don’t mean that God’s presence is actually removed. That’s impossible. They mean that they sense a distance from Him, that they are alienated from His holy nature because of their sin.

The Bible is About Closeness

The Bible is nothing less than the story of how God bridges the spiritual gap between Him and us.

Within the Trinity, The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the three persons in one God, enjoy close fellowship forever. Then when God’s creation rebels against Him and runs away, the Trinity has a rescue plan:

The Father reveals His presence to us through creation.

But He does much more: He sends the Son.

In Jesus Christ, God not only came to be near to us for a human lifetime; He died on the cross so that the alienation between you and God can be ended forever.

When the veil in the Jerusalem temple separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the world was miraculously torn in two at the death of Christ, it showed what God had accomplished. Your sins can be forgiven and you can live in God’s closeness.

Then the Son asks the Father to send the Holy Spirit so that you have God’s guiding presence always: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.” (John 14:16)

In fact, read John 14–17, Jesus’ last message to the disciples before his crucifixion, and notice how much He talks about closeness and friendship. Intimacy with you is high on God’s agenda; it’s important to Him that you know about his plan to make His presence manifest to you.

And then one day all alienation between humanity and God will end, as heaven and earth are made one.

The whole Bible is the story of God drawing nearer to you and me, bridging the alienation you and I sense. And if God went to all that effort, it’s safe to say He wants you to know how His close He is to you right now!

This week let’s explore some of the amazing, life-changing implications of God’s omnipresence. I pray that God’s presence is made manifest to you as you study!

God is… here.

Questions For Reflection

Try to summarize, in one short sentence, what the omnipresence of God means to you:

When you don’t focus on God’s omnipresence, what negative or destructive thoughts or emotions do you struggle with?

In Psalm 46, what difference does the psalmist say God’s presence makes on his emotions and attitudes?