Matthew 28:20 – …and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Someone recently asked why the name – Dimensions of Grace? Grace they understood to be the unmerited favor of God, but what, they asked, was the significance of the term “Dimensions?” As I explained I knew it was time to also speak to our blog friends about this concept. You see, how we think about God has everything to do with our relationship and access to Him. That does not mean that if we think right, God will be there and if we think wrong He will not. Quite the reverse is true. He is there, here, everywhere, whether we know it or not. It is not God’s presence that is the issue, but our accessing that presence.
As I child I was trained that in worship and in prayer, I needed to do certain things to get God’s attention and to bring down His presence. So I went to prayer meetings, church services and had my personal times of devotion and study, working as hard as I could to get God to come and pay attention. It was not until I was in Bible college that I had a paradigm shift in my concept of the presence of God. It was sort of an awkward event, at about 5 o’clock in the morning. Every morning I would get up at 5 A.M. and go to the chapel to pray. Outside, I knew that the college President was going to be passing by, walking and praying. We were usually the only two people up at that hour, and we knew that each of us had this morning pattern, but we were separated by our different styles. I would go inside the chapel, turn on the heater, get close and then kneel and pray for about an hour. The President would walk around the campus and pray.
One cold morning he came inside, I thought to join me, but instead he just quietly stood at the back of the room and watched me. I prayed fervently, loudly, and aggressively. Finally the President came forward, and asked me softly, “What are you doing?” I explained that I was praying and trying to get a hold of God. He smiled and then asked, “And if you get a hold of Him, what will you do with Him?” I realized that he had a different paradigm than I had. He said little more than that and then, smiled and walked outside. But I spent the next hour quietly thinking through what he had said. It was in those few minutes that I understood something. God was incapable of not being there and hearing me. All of the frantic work I had presumed necessary was style, it was not substance. It may have been familiar to me, expected in the circles I related to and not, in and of itself, wrong. But it did betray a perspective of God. It presumed that God was somewhere, out there, or up there and that I had the responsibility to get His attention and to move Him from where He was to where I was.
As I thought, my mind raced first to Genesis, as Adam and Eve sewed together fig leafs as a covering to hide from God. We, the human race, do not by nature seek God. We run, hide and think that if He cannot see us, we will not exist or be absent from His presence. It is God who seeks us, not the reverse. The Bible is not about man’s search for God, but of God’s approach to and provisions for His wayward creation. He knows where we are and what we are doing, and our humanity is not a barrier to His presence.
Somewhere along the way, I came across an old book entitled, ‘Practicing the Presence of God.’ It helped in the shaping process of how I thought about God and where He is. He is not hiding from us or up there somewhere. His presence is not in a place it is in a dimension, not apparent to the flesh but certain in the spirit. The difference between the flesh and the spirit is a difficult concept for the human brain to grasp. All too often we presume that being in the spirit is some other worldly state of consciousness in which we are, well, sort of out of body, weird, – you know, spooky. But all of that is the style of those who have to do something of physical gymnastics or of creating an altered state of consciousness, in order to believe that they are in the presence of the Spirit of God.
After my encounter with our college President in that little chapel, my perspective had forever changed. I do not pray or worship as though I needed to do something to get God’s attention or to bring Him down or to work Him up. I understood that there is a spiritual world, coexistent with our natural physical world and it is as real…, no, more real that the physical world we see and relate to. It is not in a place, it is a dimension that surrounds us. It is an inescapable reality in which God exists in all time, but above and beyond time. It is an ever present resource that we can both believe in and trust, to be attentive to our presence and our need.
God is not somewhere, He is here! Now! Always! And, the resources of His blessing and grace are not released by our striving and begging and working to get them, because they are simply an extension of His ever present love for us. Right there, beside you, in front of you, yes, in you, exists the dimensions of God and all of His resources to you. The problem is not in locating God and finding out where He is. The problem is in get our mind cleared of the sense of distance and of touching the dimension of His presence. It is an abiding reality! Go ahead… reach into it and live – IN HIM!