Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, and in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
– St. Patrick
What is it that we associate with the evidence of God in the world surrounding us? Do we associate Him with the existence of the church? Do we hold Him as the creation deity who argues against evolution? Is He the God of the heart, the God of abstinence, the God of Sunday drivers or the Southern Baptists? Is He the Almighty of the fish sticker on a car, the theocratic dictator of moral good, or is He the punisher of the ungodly? Is He a holy do-gooder; does He muddle through life like Ned Flanders muttering non-sense and exuding a holy aura that puts people off? I dare say that for all of the humanistic confines we try to put Him inside of; He is greater than we could ever define and permeating every aspect of existence in ways we can never understand. He is the God who the rocks and trees cry out to glorify. He is the Suffering Servant who died for our transgressions and reconciliation. He is the Spirit of life within everyone who confesses his Lordship. The reality of our definition of Him is that He is infinitely involved in our lives in ways that we cannot comprehend, faithfully providing for his beloved children, righteously bringing his will to fruition in eternity.
Much of our understanding of the Lord’s place of existence is wrapped up in warped ideas of a far away gray bearded man in the heavens, a 33 year old Jewish man who died on a cross and claimed to be the Son of God, or an unexplainable Spirit of conscious, guilt or warm fuzzies. It is those who have gone passed the generic ideas of his existence who have truly come to know Him as He is: The Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent Sovereign Lord. The One who goes before us as we wander down life’s paths, the One who carries us when we are too tired to press on, the One who sustains us in the peace of our hearts in his purpose; the God we follow, inexplicably works through millions of simultaneous interactions and billions of people and trillions of situations in the exact order of his will. Nothing is out of his realm of power! The Lord who is ever present and sovereign in all things and all circumstances has been orchestrating our worlds and his will for infinite increments of time and space. It is not beyond his power to use the feeble constructs of our minds to accomplish his purpose, but as Isaiah and First Corinthians show us, “No mind conceived what God has prepared for his beloved.” He is powerful enough to use reality altering explosions to create, evolving hearts and bodies to survive, or the foolish things of this world to shame the wise; but He usually astounds us with the truth of what He has prepared which blows away our expectation to his glory and praise.
In our focus of his existence we must take our eyes from our misplaced view of reality which is based on the primacy of self. “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loves me and delivered Himself up for me.” Chapter two, verse twenty of Paul’s letter to the Galatians vividly describes our change in becoming followers of Christ and the change of focus in our hearts to be on his purpose. We come to understand the center of our lives to be Him. The face to face interaction of replacement of ourselves in the place of primacy can be a recurring struggle in our endeavors to follow Him; but fortunately for us, He lives in us, giving us the strength to open our hearts to our crucified life with the Omnipotent Savior. The central focus of Christ in our lives as a reality of interpretation for every situation is one that truly changes us from the inside out to know his existence for what it really is. This reality transforms us not only to know that we carry the Living God as the definition of our being, but he is innately in the world around us (the situations, the people, the places, the conversations…etc.) and He is ubiquitously omnipotent amidst all details of our interactions. The God who inhabits our inner being surrounds us in the external as well. It is no longer I who live, but the God who permeates all existence draws me unto his heart with every sunset, whispered prayer, laugh or tear, hug from a friend, every drop of rain and every ounce of trust which He bestows on the world we live in.
A friend of mine recently recounted a lesson learned in the words of the angel at the tomb. The women who came looking for Jesus were told to go tell the disciples, that He has risen and is going ahead of you to Galilee, where you will see Him, just as He said you would. This is the methodology of the Omnipresent Lord. He has gone before you to where He has called you to go, and when you get there, you will see Him the way He said you would. Eugene Petersen uses this idea in reminding himself that Christ is going ahead of us in all our circumstances. As he goes to visit a sick person in the hospital, he is not afraid, for Christ goes ahead of him, and when he gets there Eugene will see Him the way He said that he would. The reality of insight like this helps us see the ultimate level of understanding in the ubiquity of the sovereign Lord. Where we go, He goes ahead of us; and we see Him as He said we would. Like St. Patrick, God with him and within him; before, beside, and beneath him – ever-present, working through all things for the goodness and glory of his purpose.
The reality of understanding is in knowing that the God of the Ages is unable to have a monkey wrench thrown into his works. He goes before us and behind us, working through us and in those around us. As we come to truly know his existence in light of these truths, we are filled with the peace and contentment of his Spirit, which surpasses all understanding, and surrounds us, binds us and sustains us in every endeavor or experience in our lives. The Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent Sovereign Lord understands and orchestrates the circumstances of our existence. We must trust Him as we go forward. We must know Him as He truly is that we might hear the direction that He calls us to go. And as we go, we will see Him as He said we would, waiting for us, then going ahead of us to where He will lead us next.