The vending machine God. It almost feels too cliche to talk about, doesn’t it? Aren’t we past that concept? I think in a lot of ways we might be.
I know for me, I no longer pray for a car to show up in my driveway, like I did at age 13.
I no longer ignore a relationship with God and just hand him a list of things I hope He’ll give me.
But even as I pray for good, even virtuous things I notice it: I am waiting on really good gifts to be handed to me from God. And at that moment, I’m able to see what my eyes are longing for. It’s not so much God’s presence, it’s those good gifts he seems to be so eager to give out if we just ask.
I’m longing for the gifts instead of the gift-giver.
I’m more excited for the created thing than the creator (Romans 1:35).
And the truth is, I’m still left disappointed and curious if I misread the promises in Scripture.
We’ve got to ask ourselves honestly:
Do I think the good life is from God or with God?
We don’t just take a portion of peace and joy and depart from the Lord and do our own thing.
That might sound obvious but I realize I still spend a good deal of time pining for peace and forgetting that as I draw near to the Lord, I experience it. Though my pursuits feel holier, I’m still chasing things or even feelings.
I’m looking to put in a few coins and say a few prayers and pop out some noble things like patience and peace and wisdom and satisfaction. What I’m praying for is vastly improved from a hunter-green Saturn. I’m praying for virtues!! I mean, it doesn’t get better than that right?
But how would it change my prayers if I embraced this idea that God’s presence is where the good life is. What if I spent more time trying to get to know God for who He is instead of just seeking what I think He offers me?
I’m still working on what this looks like and giving myself all the reminders.
Just this month in my prayer journal, I decided to focus on this concept in the adoration section of my prayer journal, I wrote “POWER IN HIS PRESENCE” and several verses that illustrated this point. (My word for the year is actually PRESENCE too. I think it’s just so important for us to get and I’m obviously still working on it!)
If you’re tired of spinning your wheels praying for patience or peace or if you’re just really weary, shift gears. Put a pause on striving for those individual things and pursue God’s presence so completely! I think you will be blown away, not by what God does, but by who He is.
Here are just a few things we find in God’s presence:
1. Holiness / Fruit / Transformation
- Romans 15:4 – Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
- Colossians 2:6 – Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
- 2 Peter 1:3 – By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.
- Isaiah 26:3 – You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
- Psalm 16:11 – You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
- John 16:22 – So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. Andrew Murray said about this verse “The presence of Jesus, distinctly manifested cannot but give joy.”
- Matthew 11:28-30 – Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
- Andrew Murray said “It is because you have forgotten you are in Christ, whom God has made to be your wisdom. Let it be your first care to abide in Him in undivided fervent devotion of heart. When the heart and the life are right, rooted in Christ, knowledge will come in such measure as Christ’s own wisdom sees fit. And without such abiding in Christ the knowledge of does not really profit but is often most hurtful. The soul satisfies itself with thoughts that are but the forms and images of truth, without receiving the truth itself in it’s power.”
- Psalm 17:15 – As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.
- Psalm 34:18 – The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
- Psalm 23:4 – Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
- Psalm 34:8 – Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
- Psalm 31:19 – Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!
I’ll close with a beautiful verse from Jeremiah 29:13 which says “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” What a gift to know that God is always ready to be found. That He is everywhere and here at this very moment. What a greater gift still to walk in that knowledge our whole life!
Want to read more about the life with God instead of from God? See my feature on Proverbs 31 Ministries’ blog.