“You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds, God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth, and of the farthest seas, who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength, who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the tumult of the nations. The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.” (Psalm 65:5-8)
I love sunsets. Any of you who follow me on Facebook probably know that by now, given the number of sunset photos I have posted through the years. From the comfort of my deck I have a front row seat to the sun setting each night over the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west of my home in Western North Carolina. That view inspired the name for this blog, Ridgetop Reflections.
It amazes me just how unique each sunset appears. Quite often they take my breath away and sometimes even leave me in tears. They never fail to remind me of the closeness of God’s presence. And I don’t believe it is a coincidence that the most awe-inspiring sunsets seem to appear when I most need to be reminded just how close God actually is.
In the Scriptures God reminds us over and over that he is always with us. When Moses felt inadequate for the task God assigned him, God reassured him “I will be with you.” (Ex. 3:12) When Joshua felt unworthy of replacing Moses and incapable of leading Israel into the Promised Land, God challenged him to “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified and do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) When Jeremiah objected that he was too young to serve as God’s prophet, God declared, “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you.” (Jer. 1:8)
The familiar words of the 23rd Psalm echo “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4) When God himself made his dwelling among us in the person of Christ, his name as foretold by Isaiah was Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14), which literally means “God with us”. (Matt. 1:23) And through the person of the Holy Spirit, God fulfills his promise to be with us “always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20)
When you face the inevitable trials and heartaches of this life, take time to reflect on those promises from God’s Word. Remember that the God who created us and who made his dwelling among us in the person of Christ now lives within us in the person of the Holy Spirit. Even in our darkest days, when sometimes he seems so distant, God is closer than we realize.
If you don’t currently have a sanctuary where you are able to just be still and sense his presence, I encourage you to find one and return to it often. As for me, I can’t wait to see the sunset he paints for me tonight!
“The most holy and necessary practice in our spiritual life is the presence of God. That means finding constant pleasure in his divine company, speaking humbly and lovingly with him in all seasons, at every moment, without limiting the conversation in any way.” – Brother Lawrence, The Practice of The Presence of God
Note: All Scripture references from the New International Version (NIV)