I love baking chocolate chip cookies. As a matter of fact, I'm known for my secret recipe. When I went through a season of health challenges, I stopped eating sugar and tried my hand at baking a few healthy, sugar-free things. I love a lot of the recipes we discovered on this sugar-free journey (my kids, not so much), but no matter what I try, there are no substitutes for the "real" chocolate chip cookies I make. Nothing compares to real salted butter and raw, organic sugars when it comes to baking chocolate chip cookies.
On the day I was scheduled to teach our interns at church about identity, I woke up with a phrase running through my head and my heart: "There is no substitute for the presence of God." This phrase repeated itself over and over again until it hit me: God's presence is the one thing for which there is no substitute. It's the one thing David asked for in Psalm 24:7:
Here's the one thing I crave from God, the one thing I seek above all else: I want the privilege of living with him every moment in his house, finding the sweet loveliness of his face, filled with awe, delighting in his glory and grace. I want to live my life so close to him that he takes pleasure in every prayer. (TPT)
God's presence is the one thing that brings peace to our storms, answers to our questions, freedom to our minds, and identity to our fractured hearts. We must choose to make ourselves aware of His unending presence in our lives and to bring a pain to Him because He is the healer. You cannot earn His presence; on the cross, Jesus made a way for us to have access to the Father at all times. It's in the acknowledgment of His presence that He imparts His perspective, causing us to soar above our issues as we find healing in His arms – the safest place we can be.
In our personal journey to freedom, there are no substitutes for His presence. For years I look to people to stand in Jesus' place only to realize that they were human and imperfect. Often times a disappointment, disillusionment, and ultimately offense and bitterness would begin to take root in my heart as I put people in a position to meet needs that only Jesus can. Then I would move on to other substitutes, which we all do from time to time, simple distractions that can become addictions in order to dull the pain within us: TV show binges, overuse of alcohol, drug abuse, food addictions, nightlife, work, perfection, performance, and so on. However, as crazy as it sounds, feeling pain is essential to finding out what needs healing in our lives. Our distractions tend to replace our face-to-face time with the Father, who has the desire, ability, and power to search our hearts and help us face our pain and be healed. We have to stop trying to mask our pain with counterfeits and simply be with Him.
We've got to choose to live purposefully aware and attentive to our heart, soul, spirit, and body's needs. Only when we truly stare our pain in the face while holding the hand of our Creator, lover, and healer can we let the world know we've manufactured crashed down around us and allow Him to rebuild us the way He originally designed. It is in His presence that we can be healed and begin to thrive.
Andi Andrew appears this Thursday on LIFE TODAY. This is an excerpt from She Is Free by Andi Andrew. Copyright ©2017 by Andi Andrew. Published by BakerBooks, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Used by permission.