When you love someone, you want to be with them. That almost goes without saying. When love is intense and committed, your desire to be with the beloved is even stronger.
God so loved us that He wanted to be with us. That’s what the name Emmanuel (taken from Isaiah’s prophecy of Israel’s Messiah) means – “God with us.” Certainly God demonstrated unfathomable zeal in His love for us by taking human form, suffering intense personal rejection, and dying on the cross. In the history of love stories, that love is uniquely pure and it is uniquely passionate. God’s love is not a sterile “love from a distance” – rather, He deeply longs to be with us.
Presumably, you want to reciprocate God’s love for you and not leave Him as an unrequited lover. How can you do this? You can’t go to heaven to be with Him until you die. Is there a way you can be close to Him on the earth in this life? Yes!
You can open your heart to God all your waking hours. Invite Him to live life with you. Refuse to think your thoughts as if you were a lone individual with no one else knowing what you think. God already knows what you think, but by keeping yourself aware of this reality you bring Him into your life. This is the closeness He was seeking when He died for your sins on the hill called Calvary.
No one else needs to know that you are doing this. In fact, no one else could know it. Oh, you could tell them that you were sharing all your thoughts with God but they still couldn’t know whether you were actually doing it. Therefore, this practice is between you and God. You choose to be constantly conscious of His consciousness of you. There is a word for this: faith.
Faith is your mindfulness, your awareness, that God is watching you and present with you. He sees every sparrow that falls and He knows the number of hairs on your head. To lose this awareness momentarily is to lose faith momentarily. To live without this awareness is to live without faith. Thus, many people who say they believe in Jesus don’t actually live very much of their lives by faith. They do have faith of a sort – but it’s an inert or dormant faith, not doing them any good in life.
When Jesus calmed the sea for His disciples who had become frightfully upset at the storm He asked them, “Where is your faith?” His point was that having faith is useless if you’re not applying it. The way to apply it is to keep in mind all the time that God is with you – because you love each other.
The biggest hindrance you will find to “being with God” all the time is that you can’t just think any old thing you want. God is pure and holy. You can’t maintain an awareness of God and while you are thinking thoughts of greed or jealousy or spite or anger or lust or selfishness or (fill in the blank with any other sin, large or small, that finds its way into your heart). When these thought do occur, you have to confess them and ask for forgiveness. If you do, He will forgive you and cleanse you. Your vital fellowship with Him will go on. But if you think you can indulge these sorts of thoughts – however small and petty they may seem – you will find that they cause you to lose your sense of God’s presence.
Therefore, you can be with God all the time. You can harbor Him in your heart. You can enjoy your life in partnership with Him. But only if you’re willing to keep the house of your heart clean of evil. If we love God, however, as He has loved us, it will seem a small thing to give up all the sins we used to love more than Him.