God is always present. We’re not.

I had one of the those soulful conversations today you have with someone who can finish your sentences. My friend Josh is a spiritual director, and he and I share a conviction some might find outlandish. We feel like we’re on pretty solid ground, though. After all, the venerable St. Augustine said it first.

God is more near to you than you are to yourself.

Let that sink in for the next 50 years. God is home. But we are away. God abides. But we wander. God pursues. But we drift.

When I was younger, I had a strong theology of God’s sovereignty, God’s omniscience, even God’s judgment. But I must have missed the best news of all – God has made his home in me. And in you. And God is infinitely and unfathomably delighted in you.

I shared this while teaching a group of twenty-somethings at a large evangelical church this past week. They’re sincere and passionate. They pray hard. They circle up and call upon God to show up, to be present, to come near. But then they blow it. They drink a little too much, or click on a pornographic website that links to another and to another, all-the-while wondering what God must think. They raise their hands in praise, but five minutes later find themselves gossiping about the person who hasn’t shown up for a few weeks. In other words, they’re like you and me.

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.

And then the guilt and shame sets in. Damn it, God. I’m sorry. You feel so far away right now. And I’m so bad. How can I make it up to you? Guilt…that’s it. I’ll just feel worse about myself. And really wallow in it this time. But seriously…you’re so far away. So, I’ll do my best to deserve you. 

Like the prodigal, we wander. But God is at home all-the-while, residing in the very depths of your soul, not-at-all surprised by your restless spirit, smiling at your silly attempts to win approval. Did you think you could wander away from Love? Do you think I’m that fickle? 

God is more near to you than you are to yourself.

Let that sink in.