God Is Present

Interior of Pilgrim Christian Church (Chardon OH) bell tower
Walk about Zion, go all around it, count its towers, consider well its ramparts; go through its citadels, that you may tell the next generation that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will be our guide forever.
—Psalm 48:12-14

At first, I am not inclined to gain much inspiration from the conclusion of the 48th Psalm. Its concentration on buildings and construction is problematic for me. It extols the architecture of a city and says that this is God. Most troublesome of all is the fact that the city eventually fell.

But here Calvin helps me once again, pointing out that "God would have [me] behold the marks of his grace engraven wherever [I turn], or rather, to recognize him as present in these marks." Thus, the end of this psalm is asking me to ponder beauty or greatness and acknowledge it as being of God and a sign of God's providence. The city is not God, but is a tangible sign of God's presence. To look at it and say This is God is to acknowledge God's grace in physical reality, just as God's people do when they acknowledge a spiritual truth.

When I see strength and beauty, therefore, I'm invited to see in it a sign of God. But in Christ I am invited to find God in the humble, in the weak, and in the persecuted. Nowhere in the history of the universe was God more present than in the Crucified. And so from the strength of a fortress to a man executed for crimes he didn't commit, God is present. There is nowhere I can find God if I do not search through the eyes of faith.

God, forbid that I should go about my day today taking the signs of your presence for granted. Whether those signs appear in the beauty of nature, as something made by human hands, or as a thing hidden in my soul that only I experience, give me grace to acknowledge your presence around and within me; in Jesus' Name, who taught me to pray: Our Father...