I once watched a movie about the daughter of the president of the United States. The plot centered on the daughter’s frustration of always being under the watchful eye of the Secret Service. It bugged her. At one point she snuck away for an adventuresome junket with a secret service agent who had befriended her. Yet she eventually shook him as well – only to be kidnapped. That experience led her to wish there were some Secret Service people around! While fictional, I’m sure most presidents’ children have had the desire to get out of sight for a while! What struck me is that I have had a similar feeling at times. I mean, it’s good to have God around, isn’t it – but have you ever wished you could shake him, if even for just a moment? Ever felt like shouting “Don’t bug me. Just leave me alone?”
David, in Psalm 139, addressed this desire when he wrote about the nearness of God. Verse 5: “You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.” God has laid his hand upon me. (1)
It means that my way is enclosed by God; I cannot escape him. But neither can anyone get at me! The image is of an army laying siege. When it does so, it blocks off all escape routes. So God is behind me forgiving me, before me preparing the way, above beneath and around me to protect me. God is managing and protecting my life. I can never shake nor escape God! While I may leave his path, He will never leave mine. I may sleep, He will not; I may forget Him, He will not forget me.
Verses 7-8 expand the thought: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” God is always present – it’s what theologians call the omnipresence of God. I can say I know someone in Texas who is the victim of flooding; it’s another thing to say I went to be with them to help them. Just before Jesus ascended into heaven he made a promise to his disciples. He didn’t just say “I know you well – you can do it. Go into all the world…” No. What He said was “Go into all the world…And surely I am with you always…”
At first hearing, that wounds wonderful. But are you really comfortable with it? It’s like a young lady who keeps saying she wants some young, handsome man to fall madly in love with her and sweep her off her feet. Then a man comes along and aggressively pursues her – and suddenly she’s frightened by him! She’s not sure she likes all the attention. Have you ever felt that way with God? Just once you wanted to see that movie, buy that magazine, tell that joke, cheat on that income tax, or to do whatever with no one, not even God knowing?
But think about it. Because God is with us, we can never say “I’m a total stranger. No one knows me. I am alone. There’s no one who understands or who can help me.” We are never alone. When you’re ready to lead that study, God is with you; when leaving for your job or school, when trying to make that sale, when you need to witness, when you are traveling, when someone you love needs confrontation, when you go to bed at night, when your loved one dies and the loneliness unbearable – you are never alone! Even in the heights and depths (Ps. 139:8), even in the valley of the shadow of death, God is always present. Would you really want it any other way?
I didn’t think so. May your prayer always be “Lord, please bug me.” (2)
(1)Photo from http://lacasamorett.com/foxgallery/hand-on-shoulder.html
(2) Photo from https://www.storyblocks.com/stock-image/a-woman-holds-her-hands-in-prayer-sju7s3t8pliydeuxk0