Seek the LORD and his strength;

   seek his presence continually!

1 Chronicles 16: 11

There are many kinds of strength that can be viewed and experienced in our world. Some of them produce outcomes that are great and wonderful and others leave a path of brokenness and destruction in their wakes. The difference in the outcome that is derived by the use of strength can be determined by very slight changes in the method of application of that strength; yet, the effect of the utilization of strength upon people can last for generations. In general, people desire to be strong or, at least, to be viewed as such. We want to hold a position that is no less than equal to those around us so that we can be in control as much of the time as it is possible. We want to be the one who call out the cadence for the on-going dance of life. This is true for us individually, and it seems to be magnified when the concepts of strength, power, and dominion are applied to nations.

However, the strength that we tend to seek after or generate for ourselves is too often derived from the wrong sorts of sources and for reasons that do not match God’s way of righteous living. We are far more likely to go for bulging muscles or for extreme horsepower than we are prone to pursuit of the strength that is formed out of compassion, mercy, and care for others. In human or worldly terms, strength is something that can be put on and worn as a form of armor that is used to protect us from too close or intimate a level of contact with all that is messy, hard, and wounded around us. This sort of strength is often expressed in angry or hurtful words as it is filled with bluster, bravado, and speaks in a manner that casts others as unworthy opponents to be discounted and denied any form of dignity. This sort of expression of strength is the weakest possible form of it, and is far removed from the type of strength that David was calling upon God’s people to adopt.

The Lord’s strength is found in His presence. It is grown up within people as we turn away from the natural way of seeking after self-determined forms of power and submit to God’s will in all matters. The more that we place ourselves under the Lord’s authority and seek out His heart, mind, and desire as the factors that determine our course through life and our methods for getting there, the stronger we will become in the truest sense of what constitutes that quality. Godly strength is measured in dignity granted to others, resources that are shared with those in need, the will to seek peace rather than victory, and a deeply held desire to serve before exerting a demand for service. The sort of strength that makes a positive difference in our world is learned from God and is found in His Word and by the leading of His Spirit. This type of strength is best cultivated through regular prayer as it is nurtured by times of listening to God and reflection upon what He is saying. This world needs strong people to care for its needs and to guide it toward righteousness and into God’s will, and we can be the Lord’s strong ones by focusing all of our being on knowing Him and in dwelling in His presence continually.     

Seek the LORD and his strength,

seek his presence continually.

1 Chronicles 16: 11

 

These lines are taken out of David’s great song of thanksgiving and praise to God that was to be sung before the Ark of the Covenant. These words remind me of something that is truly important to keep in mind all of the time. Although, I know that God is present continually and that He is everywhere and in everything, He can seem quite distant at times. When this is true, it is not God who has gone away or who has fallen silent; rather, I am the one who has created the distance, and I have covered my ears so that the Lord’s voice is not so near or sounding all that clear to me. As a follower of Christ, distance from God is something that I cause. The distance that translates into separation is formed by the wandering nature of my heart. It usually comes about when I want to think and to act in a manner that is of my own choosing and that runs counter to the way that Christ desires for me to live.

 

The route back into the presence of the Lord is right in front of me, if I will simply relent from my self-determined path, repent of the sinfulness of my heart, and seek out the truth of God’s Word and the guidance of His Spirit. That sounds simple enough, but the longer I am off on my own separate journey and the farther that my wandering takes me from the Lord’s light of truth, the harder it is to come back into His presence. This happens, in part, because sinful habits are oppressive and even addicting. This journey away from God also tends to leave us isolated from His body of faith, and so, we. Become separated from the people who will support, counsel, and shepherd us into faithful and righteous thought and actions. Thus, David’s counsel about the way that we approach life on a regular basis is important.

 

Almost everyone faces times of temptation, doubt, and weakness. As we know from his story, David had to respond to all of these emotional and spiritual situations in his life, and his experienced wisdom led him to remind each of us to be seekers after God and His strength so that we will stay intent on following the Lord’s words of wisdom and remaining in the center of His righteous presence. This is something that we can do on an on-going basis. As the song states, “seek his presence continually.” This focus upon Christ is a subtext that runs throughout the conduct of every aspect and within each moment of the day. There is nothing that we do or place that we might go where the Lord is not in it and with us. He desires to set the tone for our speech and to grant us His moral and ethical guidance for each decision that we make and action that we take. It is Christ’s strength that empowers a righteous life, and it is His presence that guides us into living as children of heavenly light.