“...so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being...” Acts 17:27-28a
The immanence of God is the concept that God is within everything, He surrounds everything, and He moves in and amongst everything. But, even though our human spirits cannot contradict this attribute of God, we can still feel within us that God is not amongst any of the things we see, feel, or experience in our day to day lives. AW Tozer calls this feeling, divine remoteness. Here is what he has to say about it when discussing the immanence of God:
“I believe that most Christians do suffer from a sense of divine remoteness. They know God is with them and they're sure they're God's children. They can take you to their marked New Testament and prove to you seriously and soberly that they're justified and regenerated, that they belong to God, that heaven is going to be their home and that Christ is their advocate above. They're got the theology...but they're suffering from a sense of remoteness. To know something in your heard is one thing; to feel it in your heart is another. And I think most Christians are trying to be happy without having a sense of the Presence.” AW Tozer, from The Attributes of God
In reading this passage I had to think back at those times when I felt most distant from God. As I pondered my walk of faith, or failures toward that end, I have come to understand that the distance I felt at times from God really has had little to do with the circumstances going on in my life. I have felt both God's presence and absence while experiencing both joy and sorrow, in both praise and repentance, in both the silly and the serious. None of the experiences that God has taken me through have been void of Him, and yet I know I have felt closest to God when amidst all those times I have rested in His arms and allowed His presence to envelope me and allow my walk to be one of faith and not fear.
The verses above from Acts remind us that even though God is never far from us, we still need to seek for Him and grope for Him to find Him – this kind of living is what faith is all about. If we could see God before we reach out for Him, then we are just trusting in what we can make sense of for ourselves, what we can point out in our biblical justifications. Our heads lead us away from where our hearts desire to go and that desire is to live within the presence of God – amidst His holy nature – apart from our sinful tendencies.
God's presence is not in a place. God's presence is not only to be found around us when we do “godly” things. God's presence is not just in the beautiful things we like to tack His personality onto and call “righteous living”. God's presence is not only with us when we put the world aside so we can bask in His godly attributes. God's presence is in the places we often call ugly. God's presence is in the heart that serves Him even when what He asks a person to do makes no sense, and they do it anyways. God's presence works in and through the difficult times and healing from those times cannot be guaranteed. God's presence is in everything and it is everywhere. But the key to coming into God's presence is that we must be willing to grope for Him in the dark and be willing to put our hands out while moving our feet towards His beckoning voice. God's presence is found in faith, and through faith we are found in Him.