God’s Presence

1st John 4:11-18

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us…We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.”

ImageToday’s reading from John’s first Epistle points very strongly to the primacy of love and the implications for those who are both loved and in love. I meet with a spiritual director regularly, his question for me is always the same, and it starts each session. He asks, “How has God been present to you in this past month?” I then begin to reflect back on the events of the past month–both the good times and the bad, the times of triumph and the times of defeat, sadness, and brokenness.

Invariably, through reflection I become acutely aware that God is with me and sharing His grace and life with me, often through others, in my joys AND sorrows. I discover that through thick and thin, the God of love is always at my side. I never really appreciate that truth or recognize it in the moment, but upon reflection it becomes quite clear. Why does this matter?

Our most difficult times can often put our faith (our relationship with God) to the test. We might begin to believe that God is not with us, that God is not concerned about us or our suffering, or that God has no desire to alleviate that suffering. By reflecting on our past, God’s presence in the good and bad, we become more aware of and confident of the strength of our relationship with God, our faith, and it is our faith that empowers us to move beyond our present suffering with confidence in the God who is love and who has loved us first. As John says, “”Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another…We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.”

With the awareness of our gift of Faith and by nourishing it, we become people of Hope that are entirely confident that God will see us through our sorrows and pain. That confidence is why we have no fear of whatever life brings. You must know of at least one person who despite all the craziness, sadness, and pain, there are able to rise above it and love others all the same! You see, those who are unafraid are free to exercise God’s own gift of Love in a world that desperately needs it. As John says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.”

One grows perfect in love through reflection on God’s active presence in the experiences of their life. Join me in making a commitment to reflection. Let us move from reflection to hope and from hope to love. In this way we follow the example of Jesus Christ, we become like Christ, and we grow in Holiness–the goal of the Christian life. Reflect! Our world needs God’s love revealed through you and I.

3 comments on “God’s Presence

  1. I tell my children constantly about how they treat each other. Siblings are seemingly always bickering,teasing etc. I tell them that if they cannot love their brother or sister, then the kindness they treat their friends is fake and not worth anything. For if they can’t love their family members whom they are closest to, how can they love freinds outside the home whom they know very little? I would like examples on how to reflect on how God is working through our lives. I guess I have a hard time seeing it, or not knowing what to look for.

    • Hi Keith, that’s a great lesson you’re teaching your kids, and a great question you ask about God’s presence. Focus on the attributes of God as you reflect. If God is love, mercy, compassion, guide, and helper, consider the times where that God has come to your aid and stood by your side. Just as an example in my own reflection recently, I’ve really been struggling in a professional relationship recently and have suffered considerably. My wife is typically “arm’s distance” about stuff like that but not this time. Oddly enough, this struggle with someone else has in a very real and powerful way strengthened the matrimonial bond between my wife and I. As I looked back on the past month, I could see the grace of God binding my wife and I more tightly together, and through her wisdom, comfort, and support, experienced the peace of Christ. Where the silver lining is, the rose amongst the thorns, the kind word, supportive friend, and compassionate, patient friend, there is God’s presence, love, and Grace. Hope this helps. Blessings!

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