When I was a girl, I loved listening to Amy Grant sing. Her songs were so powerful, evoking deep emotions, bringing healing as she sang about things that resonated with me. We sometimes feel a sense of isolation and a haunting longing. It’s really just the desire to belong. Listening to Amy Grant’s songs, I thought someone else understood: what it was to be sad, to be happy, to want to cry, to celebrate. Last week I found myself having lunch with Amy Grant, and listening to her sing again, while she talked about her journey in life. It amazed me how decades had passed, and yet she still tracks with women like me as she sings about life’s ups and downs. Then she said something that really resonated.
In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God. And the Word was God.
I realized that her ability to minister to women through music comes from a deep faith in the Lord Jesus. She has leaned on Him herself for years, and uses language and music to express how He has carried her through joys and sorrows. It’s the language that carries the power. Words. The Word.
Thinking about how to take God with me wherever I go, I have pondered the reality of practicing His presence. He is omnipresent. He never leaves us nor forsakes us. I know in my head that it’s true. He is the creator of the universe. But my heart and soul sometimes still feel alone. During a time of deep grief C.S. Lewis once said, “But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is in vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and the sound of bolting and double bolting inside. After that, silence.” I’ve felt that alone. But God IS with me, always. How do I take hold of that head knowledge and make it heart knowledge? It’s language that has always been key for me. It’s His word. The power is in the WORD.
“Is not my Word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” Jeremiah 23:29
I can practice His presence by meditating on His word. I can chase away fear when I speak His word aloud. I take Him with me by recalling verses I’ve memorized. When I am joyful, I try to recite praise from the Psalms. When I am lonely, I turn to Psalms of lament. When I am afraid, I speak His name aloud, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” Just the sound of His name is powerful.
There are so many wonderful scripture tools we can use. Bible verses appear in almost every medium. On my computer, on my coffee cup, on my phone. I’ve found that the slow process of soaking in His word, reading it every day, having it in my view throughout the day in myriad ways, has burned some into my memory. But I don’t have to memorize it. The discipline of reading it every day nourishes my heart. I have it with me wherever I go. I always have my phone. I keep a copy of the Psalms in my purse. That’s how I take God with me wherever I go. Because really, I am not taking Him with me, I’m just practicing His presence. Because He goes before me, beside me, and brings up my rear guard. That knowledge begins to seep from my head into my heart when I am intentional about the language of God. His Word.
C.S. Lewis later described emerging from his deep grief. He surmised that he couldn’t feel God’s presence when he needed Him most because he was consumed by his own thoughts. His self-focus drowned out the voice he really wanted to hear, “like a drowning man who cannot be helped because he clutches or grabs.” I want to take God with me always, or practice His divine presence, by thinking of Him wherever I go. I don’t want to clutch and grab only when I am desperate. I choose the discipline of carving out intentional time to read his word. Some days I fail. But His mercies are new every morning. So I pick up my bible and read when the sun comes up. Or look at my coffee cup verse. Or my phone app with scripture. His Word. And the Word was God. With me wherever I go.