One day I woke up with a phrase running through my head and my heart: “There is no substitute for the presence of God.” The presence of God is what David asked for in Psalm 27:4:
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 my 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 our 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 looked to people to stand in Jesus’s place, only to realize that they were human and imperfect. Oftentimes 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.