On Practicing the Absence of God

Click below to hear Dr. Green's message on "Practicing the Absence of God" given on April 27th, 2014 at Sanctuary Church in Tulsa, OK.

As Pentecostal/charismatics, we are comfortable talking about God. Maybe we are in fact too comfortable. Without pausing to consider what we really mean or if our words are faithful, we develop habits of speaking that blunt our awareness, dull our sensitivity to God and what God is doing in and around us.

Take, for example, the way we talk about God’s presence, as if it is something that comes and goes from us depending on how intensely we pursue it. Yes, there is some truth in that way of talking. But if we always only talk about God’s presence that way, we blind one another to the fact that God is always near to us, giving us our very being, making our lives possible and meaningful. As Meister Eckhart said, “I am as sure as I live that nothing is so near to me as God. God is nearer to me than I am to myself; my existence depends on the nearness and presence of God.” So perhaps we need to talk less about the need for a visitation from God, and reflect more on the wonder that God has made a home in and among us (Jn. 14.23). Maybe more than anything we need to acknowledge God’s nearness and rest in it. Then, we can say of our lives what Jacob said of Bethel: “Surely God is here, and I did not know it.” And we can pray, as St Augustine did:

Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.