“They were in the midst of a discussion about all the events of the last few days when Jesus walked up and accompanied them in their journey. They were unaware that it was actually Jesus walking alongside them, for God prevented them from recognizing him” (Luke 24:15-16, TPT).
Are you aware that Jesus is walking alongside you? He is. His presence is so close, all the time. As the Psalmist acknowledged,
“I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.”
(Ps. 139:7-12, NLT).
There is no way to get away from the immediate presence of God. However, so often in life we are like the two men in this story, unaware that Jesus Himself is right by our side.
I was talking to Him about this the other day. How I long to be unceasingly aware of His closeness! Once He manifests His presence to me, I realize once again that He was there all along. Here’s the thing, though. I can only effectively tune into His nearness as He empowers me to do so. I need Him to give me the gift of heightened awareness. I rely entirely on the bestowal of His grace to know experientially that He is near.
There are ways, however, that you and I can engage with God to grow in this grace. Thinking back on the Emmaus story, when was it that these two guys realized it was Jesus there with them? Let’s take a look:
“They urged him to remain there with them and pleaded, ‘Stay with us. It will be dark soon.’ So Jesus went with them into the village. Joining them at the table for supper, he took bread and blessed it and broke it, then gave it to them. All at once their eyes were opened and they realized he was Jesus!” (vv. 29-31, emphasis mine).
There it is. It was when they weren’t satisfied with the time they had already spent with Jesus. It was when they implored Him to stay. It was when they dined at the table with Him. That’s when their eyes were opened to see and know Him.
This is how it happens with us too. When we are not satisfied with the amount of God’s manifest presence that we have thus far experienced, our hearts cry out for more. Like the Psalmist, we cry out, “As the deer pants for water, I’m longing for You, Lord!” “This is the one thing I desire!” We plead with Him to stay with us, to linger with us, to be with us.
Here’s the amazing thing. He responds. He comes in. He sits with us. He serves up the living bread of His presence. He feeds us… Himself.
Then our eyes are opened. Then a spirit of revelation illuminates the eyes of our hearts to just how very close He actually is. Then we realize He’s been right there all along.
Ask, my friend, and you shall receive. Ask Him today to stay with you. He will.
Have you had the experience of becoming suddenly aware of God’s close presence?