“...at all times people are either stepping into, in the midst of, or coming out of some type of trial." —Dr. Mason
1. Practice pursuing the presence of Jesus.This is not a sports analogy. I'm not talking about practice making perfect. I'm not talking about trying harder and doing more, motivated by some self-willed understanding of what it means for God to be present in your life. Here's what I mean.
Because of the goodness of the gospel, the good news of the gospel, that God would step down into human history rejecting the perfection of heaven in the person of Jesus, live perfectly, die tragically at the hands of the very people he came to save, rise triumphantly, sit at the right hand of the Father, and intercede for all those who would believe, because of that good news, then we incline our hearts to put him at the center of our reality. Jesus is not an addendum to a life already figured out. He is not an add-on... If we're honest, even for those of us who have been disciples of Jesus for a long time, we spend a lot of our time living as functional atheists. We live that way. What do I mean by that? We live as though God does not exist until we think we need him. We make our decisions. We make our business deals. We live our lives. We raise our children. We go to our gyms. We go on our vacations. We progress through life. As long as we don't hit a bump… "Oh, I'm sure God is up there somewhere, but I have it figured out. I mean, he only created me and the world, but I will consult him on a need-to-know basis." None of us would say that out loud. I would never say that out loud, but I very much live that way in my life... How do we navigate the storms in our life? The first thing we do is practice pursuing the presence of Jesus, meaning we put him at the center of our reality, not as an addendum, not as an afterthought, not as the last resort solution, after we've exhausted all of our resources and all of our talent and all of our money and all of our ability. Not after…first. How do we respond to this?
2. Call on God before freaking out.
I mean, there's nothing deeply theological about that, and yet at the same time, it is. What do we do? Something bad happens. That's what goes on in your mind...
3. Practice a life of frequent repentance.
How do you keep Jesus at the center? Practice a life of frequent repentance. Martin Luther said all of life is repentance...
4. Talk about him joyfully in good times and bad.
That's how you navigate the storm. That's how you keep Jesus at the center.
Jesus' presence is a promise of peace. If you're a disciple of Jesus, then you've heard that before, but are you living that way? Are you living that way, or would you, like I have so many times, sit there and arrogantly think, "Well, I've heard this. This is simple gospel. Thank you."
The presence of God is a promise. It's a promise of a peace that can be yours, that can be possessed, that transcends every storm and every circumstance.