Five Words That Can Change Your Life
By Leslie Vernick
This Lenten season, I've been meditating on how to make the presence of Jesus more of a reality in my everyday life. I firmly believe that if we knew that God was in us and with us, we would not be so afraid, or bored, so lonely, or lost. We would not be seeking pleasure in sinful ways, or stuffing ourselves full of food, or spending our money on more and more stuff, or looking for love in all the wrong places. Our lives would be rich and meaningful, and full of purpose and direction. Jesus told us, “I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10)
But truth be told, most of us, even as believers, don’t live in that reality. After Christ’s resurrection but before he left this world to ascend into heaven, he spoke five words to his followers that changed their lives. He said, “I am with you always.” (Matthew 28:20)
Let’s look at these five simple words more closely and see how they can change us too.
He said, “I am with you always.” Who exactly is making this claim? Jesus said this after his resurrection and the disciples only then starting to get the big picture. He is not just their friend, their companion, their teacher. Nor is he a religious leader or future king of Israel. Jesus proved that he is the Son of God. He was raised from the dead. He is the great I AM. He is the one who is omniscient and omnipresent. He is sovereign, he is love, and he is good. It is HE who promises that He is with us always. The disciples realized “if God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
How about you? If you knew God, the great I AM, is always Present with you, what would you fear? How would you change? What would be different in the way you live today?
Not only is Jesus declaring that the great I AM is with us, but that he IS with us, right here, right now. He doesn’t say He will be with his disciples sometime in the future, or later on in Heaven but he says “I am (present tense) with you always." If you believed that Jesus was with you right now, how would that affect the choices you make today? How would you feel differently?
Jesus told his followers that “I am with YOU always.” Every individual is important to God and “He will never leave or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) He is at your right hand. (Psalm 16:8 ) His Presence is promised. Paul speaks of that great mystery, “Christ in us”. (Colossians 1,2) The reality of that promise is not the biggest problem in our spiritual journey.
Our biggest problem is that we are not aware of his Presence. Do you remember in the Old Testament Jacob that had a dream where he heard the Lord promising that he was with him and would protect him? After he awoke from his sleep he said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it.” (Genesis 28:16)
How about you? If we only could only see (be aware) that the great “I AM is with US”, it would make all the difference in how we feel, what we choose, and how we go about our day. Our step would be lighter and our eyes brighter because we would not only be looking at our day from our own vantage point, but we’d also have the eyes of God who gives each of us a wide angle lens on things. He infuses meaning and purpose into traffic jams and spilled milk, job losses and relationship pain.
Jesus said, “I am with you ALWAYS. Not sometimes, not only when you’re listening to him, not only when you’re good and faithful, but ALWAYS. ALWAYS. ALWAYS. He said he is with us when we’re sleeping and when we’re awake. When we’re in church and when we’re watching something we shouldn’t. He is with us when we are loving on our children and when we’re screaming at our spouse. He is with us in our success and in our failure.
Friends, my prayer is that we would learn to be more aware that HE is PRESENT ALWAYS. Knowing God’s Presence changes the way we respond to difficult and stressful life situations. We would not get so angry or aggravated. We would not feel so alone or rejected. We would experience peace, not chronic anxiety and worry. We would feel joy instead of emptiness. We would be filled with hope instead of despair.
Sarah Young, the author of Jesus Calling wrote, “A renewed mind is Presence-focused.” I like what she said. Start today. Remember, you are not alone or helpless. God is with you always. Let your mind dwell on and heart be filled with this truth. If you do, I promise, it will change you.