The God Who Is (Everyw)here

Jay Y. KimBy Jay Y. Kim7 Minutes

Excerpt taken from Listen Listen Speak: Hearing God and Being Heard in a Noisy World by Jay Y. Kim

Recently I took my family for the first time to Joshua Tree National Park. Staring out across the vastness, enveloped by ancient rocks and an endless horizon, one feels utterly small—tiny, really. And yet, simultaneously, I felt so incredibly aware and alive. To think, the God who mustered the grandeur of such a place with but a word is here still, in this place, and in my life. It was astonishing

In his classic book The Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer writes, “The doctrine of omnipresence personalizes a man’s relation to the universe in which he finds himself. This great central truth gives meaning to all truths and imparts supreme value to all his little life. God is present near him, next to him, and this God sees him and knows him through and through.” Do you believe this? I don’t mean just intellectually. Do you sense, in a very real way, that God is present, near you, next to you, that God knows you through and through? It is only in sensing the very real nearness of God that we’re able to free ourselves from the paralyzing grip of unknown futures.

The psalmist writes:

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light as you. (Psalm 1396:7–12)

The Hebrew word for “Spirit” is ruakh, which means “breath” or “wind,” similar in meaning to the Greek word for “Spirit,” pneuma. The psalmist’s question “Where can I go from your Spirit?” is rhetorical and, in some ways, intentionally absurd. The answer is obviously nowhere, for the very breath in our lungs is a reminder of the Spirit of God’s nearness to his people—to us, with us, and in us.

Then, the psalmist asks a second question: “Where can I flee from your presence?” The Hebrew word for “presence” is panyim, meaning “face,” “in front of,” or “in the sight of.” Wherever we go and whatever we’re going through, there is no place where God does not see us. We are always in his line of sight; even when we don’t see him, he sees us. A bit more on that in the next chapter.

The point here is that even as our eyes wander ahead toward the uncertainty of the future and as our desperate, listening ears are taken hostage by the noisy punditry of so-called experts attempting to appease our fears with prognostications that amount to not much more than biased guesses, the God who knows all is as close as breath and he sees us even when we cant see him.

Those who devise wicked schemes are near, but they are far from your law. Yet you are near, Lord, and all your commands are true (Psalm 119:150–151)

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. (Psalm 145:18)

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8 NRSV)

A few years ago at an amusement park in Southern California featuring talking mice and an endless array of princesses adorned in brightly colored dresses, my son, just three at the time, wandered off for a moment to follow one of said mice. I had my eye on him the entire time, but at a certain point, he lost track of me. I could see his expression turn from joy to confusion to fear, and before he broke out in an all-out panic, I rushed over to him. He saw me among the crowd as I drew closer and immediately left the mouse to draw near to me, and all was well.

The pundits of our day offer solace for our fear and comfort for our anxiety by offering us a wide array of options, all just shots in the dark, subjective and skewed. They attempt to steady our instability by simply burying us beneath a mountain of predictions. But God offers us no such thing.

God does not predict, because he already knows.

God does not predict, because he has already seen.

God does not predict, because he has already done all that needs to be done.

God does not offer us a peek into the future.

God offers us only and all of himself in the here and now.

Daily bread for today. And tomorrow. And the day after that.

Because that’s what good fathers do.

Excerpted from Listen, Listen, Speak by Jay Y. Kim. (Copyright 2024) Used with permission from FaithWords, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

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