How do you know if you’re experiencing God’s presence?
The Bible begins and ends with a God who desires to dwell with His people. The pages between are full of stories of our present God moving heaven and earth to be with His people because of His great love. But there’s a problem. From the Garden of Eden to our modern-day, humanity repeats the pattern of rebellion against the God who loves us.
Fortunately, God loves His world so much that He wrote Himself into the story to save us. God became flesh and dwelt among us as Jesus Christ, the image of the invisible God. After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven, God sent His Holy Spirit to live in us to carry His presence with us everywhere we go.
But what does it mean to be in the presence of God? If God is always with us, why do we sometimes feel alone or far from God? How can you know with confidence if you’re experiencing God’s presence in your life?
The Omnipresence of God
First, God is present everywhere at all times. One of the ways we are reminded of His presence with us is through the beauty of His creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).
In this way, God is even present with those who have not put their faith in Him. This common grace is a way that God’s goodness extends even to those who are unaware of His presence or refuse to acknowledge Him as Lord. God’s eternal power and divine nature have been on display since the creation of the world, giving all people a chance to know Him (Romans 1:19-20).
Even when we sin and we want to run and hide from God, we cannot escape his omnipresence.
“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.” - Psalm 139:7-10 (NIV)
The Indwelling Presence of God
One of the amazing blessings we have as believers in Jesus is the presence of God living inside of us through the Holy Spirit. In the same way the tabernacle and temple housed the presence of God in the Old Testament, the Spirit of God now dwells within us.
“For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.’” - 2 Corinthians 6:16
This powerful image of our bodies as temples of the living God is sometimes used in arguments about tattoos. But the truth behind these Scriptures is so much bigger than that! As disciples of Jesus, we carry the presence of God with us everywhere we go.
The Manifest Presence of God
The presence of God is everywhere at all times, His omnipresence. For followers of Jesus, He is with us always, through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Yet further still, there are times when we experience the presence of God in special ways. This is often called the manifest presence of God because He is with us in a clear and convincing way.
We know of the manifest presence of God through our experiences with Him. This may not look the same to all people in all places, but it will always be in agreement with Scripture. Some people may see visions or hear God’s voice. Others may not see or hear anything — but experience feelings of peace and joy that are beyond words.
You may experience the presence of God through a song or Scripture the Spirit brings to mind. It may be through a providential encounter with a friend or stranger. The presence of God may prompt you to pray or give you a love for the Bible. When we live lives marked by the presence of God, we become activated to impact others.
We can trust in God’s omnipresence even when we feel far from the presence of God. We can remember that Jesus, our Immanuel, is with us to the end of the age. And we can seek the presence of the Comforter, God’s Holy Spirit, to fill us daily as we grow in our love and knowledge of Him.