We ache without "this."
We long for "this."
Something inside us drives us to find "this."
Most addiction seems to be a deep yearning for "this," but we end up replacing "this" with shallow shortcuts to a false sense of security, significance, comfort, or meaning.
Some people have even referred to "this" as the God-shaped hole in all of us.
What is the "this" we are talking about?
The "this" has been called a number of things:
- The Presence.
- The nearness of God.
- A sense of the Holy Spirit's indwelling inside us.
- The recognition of Jesus' tangible presence in our lives.
- An experience of the Holy that touches something deep inside of us.
Our "this" is Immanuel — God with us (Matthew 1:23). Jesus was "this" in his incarnational ministry on earth (John 1:1-18; Hebrews 1:1-3). The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth that Jesus promised to send to us is "this" for us as followers of Jesus (John 7:37-39; John 14:15-23; John 16:12-16).
God has promised us his presence. God wanted us to realize his nearness. God said he would never leave us or forsake us. God knew we were made with a longing for Immanuel.
That's why the few words spoken about Enoch in the Bible intrigue us:
Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him (Genesis 5:22 NASB).
Another translation puts it this way:
Enoch had such a close and intimate relationship with God that one day he just vanished — God took him (Genesis 5:24 TV).
I helped with a funeral this week for a precious lady who had been faithful to Jesus for decades. She was fastidious in the way she handled life — great planning, clean house, always on time, great cook, and spoke about others and to others with genuine respect and courtesy. This lady was impeccable in the way she dressed and carried herself. Yet in her last few weeks, her body failed her... just like all of our bodies will fail each of us. Yet her faith never failed.
As I thought of her, the Holy Spirit prompted me to remember a passage appropos to this precious lady's struggle. Yet, the more I rested in this passage, the more I realized it promised something incredibly special for all who love Jesus: Our lives can have an Enoch outcome, too!
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV).
Over the next few weeks, I want to share with you some things that God has kept stirring up in my heart for over a decade. They all revolve around a central truth that can be expressed in similar, but slightly different ways:
- God is near!
- Jesus wants to be an experienceable part of our daily lives!
- The Holy Spirit is God's abiding presence, guidance, comfort, and strength available to us and living inside us.
The more this promise saturated my heart, the more I realized that Enoch should not be as much a mystery to us as he is a promise of God's future for us. Our challenge is to learn to walk with God so that when we reach the end of our journey here, it's just a short step into the home God has waiting for us.
So let's not slake our thirsts with artificial shortcuts that end up addicting us. Let's not medicate the ache in our hearts with what won't fill them. Let's not stifle our yearnings for God's presence with what can't give us life. Instead, let's go in search of Immanuel. Let's learn how to walk with God. Let's follow the leading of God's abiding presence in us, the Holy Spirit.
Today, as we begin our journey, we'll end with the words of a not so old hymn, "Each Step I Take." It was written in 1953 by W. Elmo Mercer at the age of nineteen. May it give us comfort and confidence that Immanuel is not far from us and is at work in us to bring us home!
Each step I take my Savior goes before me,
And with His loving hand He leads the way,
And with each breath I whisper "I adore Thee;"
Oh, what joy to walk with Him each day.Each step I take I know that He will guide me;
To higher ground He ever leads me on.
Until some day the last step will be taken.
Each step I take just leads me closer home.