Recognizing the constant presence of the Lord is challenging because He is “unseen”. This attribute of God can be frustrating because of our utmost dependence on sight to perceive our world and complete tasks.
Indeed, how we long to see God’s physical person with our own eyes! Perhaps we would be more inclined to “behave,” to obey what God says and love Him through our actions.
But much of God’s Word explicitly describes man’s inability to remain obedient to God over periods of history, even when His direct intervention is involved. If His physical presence were made clear, much like Adam and Eve had, would we not find a place to hide and shamefully continue in our sin? Doesn’t most sin happen in places of darkness, intentionally performed where no one can see?
The book of Judges is a brutal reflection of this truth, that, left unchecked, man is capable of egregious transgression and constant failure. A tragic (and mildly humorous) cycle is described in the second chapter:
16 Nevertheless, the Lord raised up judges who delivered them out of the hand of those who plundered them. 17 Yet they would not listen to their judges, but they played the harlot with other gods, and bowed down to them. They turned quickly from the way in which their fathers walked, in obeying the commandments of the Lord; they did not do so. 18 And when the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed them and harassed them. 19 And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they reverted and behaved more corruptly than their fathers, by following other gods, to serve them and bow down to them. They did not cease from their own doings nor from their stubborn way.
Deafness. Reversion. Stubbornness. Corruption. Unceasing.
You might think you are above this behavior, but we are all prone. The tragic cycle of man is endless; in our own efforts, we will continue to feel guilt, make amends with God, temporarily improve our behavior, grow calloused to our success, and revert to selfishness and corruption.
But Jesus Christ ruins this cycle.
The first step is recognizing that you need it to end, and that you need Jesus to do it. Humans, particularly Americans, would rather not confess weakness — even those who check in every Sunday for church falsely proclaim victory and strength through personal volition — and we flex our spiritual muscles with the intent of winning this internal battle, that next time we’ll try harder. But we are weak. We will fail. We need Jesus.
But once we recognize our shortcomings and we begin to rest in Jesus, who is the perfecter of our faith, we no longer have to “make up” for our failure. The guilt of our past is removed, and our confidence is no longer in how good we’re doing, but in where we already stand in God’s favor. We will WANT to “behave”. With immersion in God’s grace, you don’t have to go on a behavioral crash diet, because you’re already in excellent shape.
I could go on, but I would like the reader to stand in this simple truth: Jesus Christ took care of it. We must be circumspect and recognize that we should always keep watch to avoid pitfalls, but if you find yourself in a cycle of sin today, know that there is an end to it. You don’t have to try harder to beat it out.
God’s presence IS constant, and it is in Jesus Christ. Whether or not He is perceptible to you today, be encouraged by the availability of endless second chances. The cycle is over.