A FISH OUT OF WATER
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16:11 (ESV)
Recently I had this thought, "I want to be like a fish out of water when I am not in the presence of God." My longing is to be more aware and alert and alive to the Spirit realm, the Kingdom of God, than the natural realm, the patterns and ways of this world.
Since then I have been feeling very uncomfortable. I feel like I am "gasping for air"- apprehensive of what is to come. I feel very dissatisfied where I am at. I have this insatitiable desire to be in God's presence. This feeling - truly like a fish out of water - drives me to the presence of God. In His presence there is fullness of joy and eternal pleasures at His right hand. In His presence burdens leave and the peace that passes all understanding takes their place. As David cried out so do I, "Cast me not away from your presence O Lord. Take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation and renew a right spirit within me" (Psalm 51:11-12).
Why is there such a longing to be in His presence? Because God, Himself, is LOVE. Love casts out all fear. My goodness apart from Him is nothing. It's His presence that distinguishes me from the rest of the people on this earth.
I remember while I was in Nursing School at SSFC I had this really lovely roommate of another faith. She lived a very moral life. She didn't smoke or drink or sleep around like so many of our peers were doing. She was very humble and kind. Selfless and generous. She lived such a good life that it caused me to question, "What is the distinguishing factor in my life that sets me apart from her? - What is it in my life that will cause people to see Jesus and desire Him for themselves?"
That's when God led me to Exodus 33:15-16:
Then Moses said to him,
“If your Presence does not go with us,
do not send us up from here.
How will anyone know that you are pleased with me
and with your people unless you go with us?
What else will distinguish me and your people
from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
It then became my prayer, "Don't let me out of this place - even this moment - unless your presence goes with me." I realized that the distinguishing factor in my life was the presence of God - the Holy Spirit.
Other scriptures that came to me were found in Psalm 1 and Jeremiah 17. These similar passages encourage God's children to be like luscious, fruitful trees planted by the water (to dwell in His presence and to allow His Word to dwell in us) - so that even if drought came, we'd still be flourishing and producing much fruit.
Along the way, even while doing good, we can be easily distracted - becoming more of a Martha than a Mary. More focused on the doing than the dwelling. More obsessed with doing things for God than doings things as a natural overflow from dwelling in His presence.
Recently I finished a devotional written by Rolland and Heidi Baker (founders of Iris) titled, Reckless Devotion. In it the husband and wife team write:
For 26 years, we were missionaries, doing our best to serve the people around us. We thought we were doing it right. As we laboured and worked and toiled for the Lord, getting more and more burned out, we honestly felt that was how it would always be... That was until God broke in pouring His sweet Holy Spirit into us. He reshaped us on His potter's wheel, lovingly reworking us so our hearts overflowed with life and energy and love and power. We understood for the first time how the love of the Lord completely transforms a life so that it becomes like His own... Now we are compelled to love those we serve through a love for God that never runs dry. (Day 2)
We can't love God's way without being filled with Him. If we try it on our own, we end up exhausted and burned out. I've done it; it doesn't work. Only when we let His love pour into us and let it spill out from deep within us will His Kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Day 1)
I can definitely identify with the Bakers and have been on the pursuit of dwelling in His presence not just daily but all day long. There's no life, no true satisfaction, apart from His presence. There is no real fruit, fruit that will last, apart from the overflow of His presence.
If today you are feeling like a fish out of water, I want to encourage you as I am being encouraged - run into His presence. Let Christ minister to you and overwhelm you with His LOVE and be determined not to leave any place, or even any moment, unless His presence goes with you. As we do so, we will carry His presence, His LOVE, everywhere we go and it will overflow from our lives onto all those who come across our path.