God paid a very high price to make a way for each and every one of us to know Him intimately and uniquely. Don’t settle for anything less than an intimate relationship with Him! (He’s not going to let you settle for less, anyway, which is probably why you are reading this…) More than 2000 years ago God took the initiative to remove every obstacle that stands between us and knowing Him intimately:
Salvation: The Restoration of Our Spirit
At the core of God’s plan of these present ages is His intent to bring you and I into an intimate relationship with Him. Jesus wasn’t sent to earth to die on the cross, He died on the cross because that was the only way to the Resurrection! And it is ONLY through the Resurrection that we become new creatures, new spirit beings that are now able to commune with a Holy God on His terms. Before the Resurrection, Moses saw God face to face, but the glory that shone on his face faded because there was nothing inside to contain that Life. He was still dead in his spirit. But thank God that through the Resurrection of His Son we now fully behold Him in our spirit, and are able to hear, see and experience His totality without measure. Knowing that His desire for us is that we be one in Him, we can boldly come before His throne and get to know Him as He is, in reality.
The Healing of Our Soul and Body: Overcoming Our Flesh
Though our spirit knows God now, our flesh (our soul getting its needs met outside of God), is a barrier between our spirit and our soul. Through the working of sin, death and our flesh, as well as what has been passed down to us historically, our soul is dysfunctional and seeks life wherever it can find it, through control. Knowing God necessitates a subjection of that control to His life, which is now within us. So one of God’s goals is to bring us healing in our soul and body so that our soul and body can come into alignment with our true identity. Remember, “I am a spirit, I have a soul, and I live in a body.” God wants to know us and be known completely, so He has set out to make us complete.
Overcoming the World System
Jesus has already overcome the world system, so in our spirit being, we also have overcome the world system. However, our soul and body have not yet walked this out experientially. God purposes specific circumstances designed for each of us to learn, through dependence on Him, to overcome the world and to learn to know God in our entire beings just as we know Him in our spirit now. So though we have overcome the world in our spirit, we are also overcoming the world in our soul and body as we learn to know God.
The world system has a life of its own, and will put up a fight to keep us from learning to rest in knowing God in His time and in His way. There will be peer pressure, time pressure, and contention with the world’s standards as we set our soul to follow the Lord and His purposes alone. It’s part of the process, so don’t take it personally!
Jesus has also already overcome that old liar, the devil. He’s left him around, though, to reveal to us where we are depending upon our selves, our soul strength, to get our needs met, and to provide opportunities to learn about our new spiritual nature in overcoming him in the supernatural and natural realms. Although Satan and his demons are no longer an obstacle to knowing God, they are present in our lives so we can learn how to deal with them.
God Himself not only made the way for us to enter into a knowing relationship with Him, He also takes full responsibility for every aspect of our progress. He provides the teaching, encouragement, revelation, strength, circumstances, understanding, fellowship and companionship that we need in order to enter His rest. As we accept His timetable, learn to hear His voice and recognize His presence, we enjoy our time here on this earth regardless of our outward measure of success or change in circumstance.
God Makes His Presence Known
God is a real person, and wants us to be confident of His present-ness. He exists on many levels, but as His sons we have the privilege of knowing Him in an intimate level not available to unbelievers and other elements of His creation. Part of the process of getting to know Him is learning to appreciate our privilege and in turn respecting and honoring our God by responding to His call to “Be With Him.”
God is everywhere, created everything and everyone, and exists eternally. He created time, and therefore is Master over and controls it. He created the elements, and is therefore Master over and controls them. He created the three realms of reality (spiritual, supernatural and natural) and therefore is Master over and controls them. Whether a person or creature acknowledges His existence and control or not, He Is.
God’s Manifest Presence
There are also times and situations in which God chooses to make Himself known to our physical senses. The scriptures are replete with examples of His making Himself known in various ways (burning bush, dove, even angelic representations). In our age He has manifested Himself in this present reality through His Son, who was fully real as fully man. Personally, there may be times when He chooses to make Himself known to our physical senses; a personal visitation, the scent of roses, a touch of His hand, the sound of His knocking or footsteps, His calling our name, or even a taste of honey. He wants to increase our awareness of this possibility so that when He reveals Himself in this way we will recognize it is Him and respond appropriately.
God’s Personal Presence
Finally there is that personal awareness that is unique for each of us. Though it is exciting and encouraging to experience a supernatural or natural manifestation of God, what He longs for is an intimacy that has been so fine-tuned that we don’t need to have His presence or direction confirmed through outward manifestations. Since we are spirit beings, we are in constant union with Him now, so we are experiencing this personal presence now, though pretty much only in our spirit. As we pursue knowing Him inwardly, our confidence in recognizing His presence without an outward expression will grow to where He will be able to guide, direct and commune with us one-on-one as deep speaks to deep. The hidden things are protected from the encroachments of this age, and God keeps them hidden FOR His beloved.
Experiencing God’s Personal Presence
As we experience healing and learn to overcome our enemies, we will also need to adjust our expectations of what it is like to know God. Many of us want to know Him better so we can be “in His will,” perhaps thinking that doing so will keep us from danger or in line for a future reward. Or we want to know Him better because we think that we will then be able to feel or perceive Him more certainly, which will in turn motivate us to do what we think He’s called us to do. Or we think that getting closer to Him will please Him, or meet our earthly needs, provide healing, or launch us into ministry. But the Kingdom of God is not built—it is not something that is leading to something else! The Kingdom of God is Entered! Experiencing the Personal Presence of God is the Goal, the final reward, the Kingdom of God; it is where He reigns, rules, creates, governs, celebrates eternally, even as we reign, rule, create, govern and celebrate with Him. Now!
Personal Presence Now
IS Eternal Life!
God’s Personal Presence involves Cultivating Quietness
Recognizing that intimate communion with God on a personal level occurs within us, within our spirit and soul, part of our task will be to lessen, and eventually be able to ignore, the “noise” we live with on a daily basis. This is not necessarily just our earthly situation; the activity in our soul, our thoughts, emotions and decisions, all need to be brought under the control of our spirit (which is already under the control of His Spirit). Our goal is to be able to recognize His slightest whisper or moving in any realm—spirit, supernatural or natural. To be able to do that, the activity in each realm must be neutralized, where it is neither positive or negative, and does not affect our ability to know God. [All activity in the spiritual realm is in perfect alignment with Spirit, so this is not an area we need to review. See “Does What You Believe Work?” for more information regarding the three realms and the activities and authority of each realm.] As you devote time and attention to knowing God, it is likely He will begin to point out areas that need to be adjusted from your life or areas of your soul that need to be brought under control. This does not necessarily mean that there is something wrong with the activity or habit, but that it is a distraction from entering into His rest according to His schedule.
God’s Personal Presence is Rest
When Moses was assigned his ministry (to free God’s people), he asked God for someone to go with him. God could have assigned all the resources and power of the universe. Yet He promised Moses two things: My Presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest. Not power, not wealth, not creativity or organization (though He did provide these in different ways as needed). But Rest, or the freedom from self-effort.
God’s Personal Presence is a Shelter
The more we get to know God, the more we are able to recognize and appreciate His protection and care. His presence provides a refuge from the criticism, rejection and slander that often comes our way, not by preventing it, but by providing a safe place to receive healing.
God’s Personal Presence is a Resort
The personal presence of God within provides a place of refreshment and rejuvenation. Whenever we are stressed, overworked or weary, His Spirit refreshes and restores our soul, just as a relaxing vacation refreshes and restores our body.
God’s Personal Presence is Active
Rather than focusing inward to know ourselves, we focus inward, where our spirit is, to know God. Introspection is paying attention to our self, our soul, whereas acknowledging and experiencing His Personal Presence is paying attention to God. As we focus our attention internally on Him, we may or may not notice what activity we are participating in in the natural realm. In this way we can carry on daily activities and still maintain soul-spirit communion with God. This experience of living out of the spirit is something that is better experienced for yourself; it’s better “felt” than “telt”! But once you experience it, you’ll never be fooled by imitations.
God’s Personal Presence is Objective
As we become more and more aware of our spirit nature, our soul is brought into submission to our spirit and we become less and less reliant on our emotions, understanding and actions to confirm that we are in relationship with God. We have not been this way before, and though we can encourage one another along the way, each of us develops a unique relationship with God that may or may not be able to be confirmed by a response in the soul. In other words, we may not “feel” any closer to God, or “understand” or learn more about Him, and He may not change our outward activities as part of our resting in His Presence. Nevertheless, we know that since knowing us is His idea, He is both drawing us to Him and removing barriers according to schedule.
God’s Personal Presence Provides Perspective
The more we know God, the more we see things from His grace-oriented perspective. We learn to accept Him, ourselves and others unconditionally as we experience His love, acceptance and honor of others. We also gain appreciation for His way of doing things. Though we may not understand our circumstances, as we gain His perspective we can at least endure them in rest.
God’s Personal Presence Creates Desire
Knowing God will birth a desire, a thirst to know Him still more. We become more and more willing to deal with everything that obstructs us from entering into that dependent relationship. Any desire to know Him comes from Him, so we know it will not be denied by Him, and that He will make a way for it to become reality for us.
God’s Personal Presence is a Lifestyle
God is looking for a home to dwell in, not just a place to visit. The more our lives are transformed into a habitation for the Lord, someplace for Him to rest His Head, the more we will enjoy His eternal Life on a moment-by-moment basis. Realize that God hasn’t come to take part in your life, He’s come to TAKE OVER!
God’s Personal Presence is Present
God doesn’t want us to put off until later a relationship that is available now. Eternal life IS knowing God! It is not something that someday we will receive. We see Him face-to-face now in our spirit, and His desire is that we would be one in Him in our soul and body as well, now. Knowing Him Now is our great, abundant and exceeding reward; anything that comes later is icing on the cake!
Knowing God is being in a unique, intimate relationship with Him. Because it is His idea, He is doing the drawing. And it is a drawing into His place of abode. He draws us into His kingdom, His rest. So we can relax! He knows how He has made us; He knows the questions, doubts, strengths and weaknesses each of us carry, so He long ago decided that He would reveal Himself to us on an individual basis. This is His job; we refer to Christianity as “having a personal relationship with a personal Savior,” right? Well, there is a roadmap, showing a fairly straightforward highway, that takes us from where we are now into an intimate relationship with God where He is now. It is the sideroads, the distractions along the way that divert us from The Way. Jesus says “Come!”
Adapted from Knowing God by Dianne Thomas