It’s a wild ride to be a person full of faith. It can take you into the most despairing situations where hope seems to not have a place, only to bring a tangible presence of hope. It can make you say things you might otherwise be afraid to say, but yet, needed to be said. It can push your body beyond what you thought might be possible, at the service of another. All that, in effort to please and emulate the character of an invisible God. Seems a little crazy on the face.
But here’s the deal, we either believe God is alive and he is watching us, or we do not. Both of those options impact our day-to-day behavior immensely.
And it’s not just some verbal declaration to this reality that affects how we behave. It’s an actual belief that he is watching us as a Father watches his children, who wants to direct us, must at times discipline us, and hopes the best for us.
It’s a challenging dichotomy to choose between, and even faith-filled people ride the fence from time-to-time. Why? Because it often causes us to make selfless decisions in effort to reflect the kind of character we see exemplified in the only image of the invisible God we have - Jesus.
Psalm 139 unfolds the thoughts of a person who has fully embraced the idea that God is watching him and is very intimately involved in his life. As you take in the writer’s mental journey, it seems he has mixed feelings about the whole experience.
On the one hand, he feels paranoid by constantly recognizing God’s unrelenting presence: “Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?” It’s as if it’s too invasive for him.
On the other hand, he appreciates it: “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.”
Both, however, assume God's consistent presence in one's life. And both, I submit, make better people out those of us who share such a perspective.
I have a friend named Taylor Maute who I’ve enjoyed watching grow in his faith over the years. He has always maintained a hunger to do what God wants and is always thinking about how God is expecting him to behave in a particular situation. His sincerity is inspiring to be around.
He’s not a preacher. He’s not a Bible scholar. He’s an industrial technician, working on cranes and air compressors, in often really hot or really cold, dirty environments. Recently, I got the chance to go out on a job with him just to lend an extra hand - certainly not because I have some skill to add to his job. He was working in a cold factory, high up on cranes and managing guys who don’t have the most rewarding of jobs.
The conversations were certainly different. But I observed the same character I see in Taylor, in this very challenging work environment, that I do when I see him talking with people around our offices. (Around our parts, he manages our accountability groups we have set up to make sure our people maintain healthy marriages.) The consistency of character I see in Taylor points to his awareness that God is watching and that he has a responsibility to behave accordingly.
As I write this, I acknowledge that the concept of being mindful of God’s presence is simple. But the application requires constant self-awareness. It’s not an awareness that should lead us towards isolated contemplation, but rather spur us into faith-filled action.
Such awareness helps us make our words count, our relationships count, our leisure time count, our work count, and everything in between. It makes us more sensitive to moments where we can choose what benefits us or what another needs.
So give it a day, practice this kind of awareness of God’s presence. Then, reflect. I’m betting the challenges and joys of that experience will make you want to do it again.