Inviting Gods Presence


By Larry Keefauver, DMin

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Keefauver believes that the passionate pursuit of God is the most authentic method of finding God’s presence in our lives. Divided in two parts, this volume is a journey into developing a genuine relationship with God.


Copyright © 2003 by Larry Keefauver.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Publishers.

Scriptures noted NIV are taken from the HOLY BIBLE; NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scriptures noted TLB are taken from The Living Bible, copyright © 1971. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Scriptures noted RSV are taken from the REVISED STANDARD VERSION of the Bible. Copyright © 1949, 1952, 1971, 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission.

Scriptures noted NASB are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright© 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1972, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scriptures noted The Message are taken from The Message: The New Testament in Contemporary English. Copyright © 1993 by Eugene H. Peterson.

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First eBook Edition: April 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-56120-4


Tearing down the Walls of Silence and Mistrust

I am so weak that I can hardly write,

I cannot read my Bible,

I cannot even pray.

I can only lie in God's arms like a little child, and trust.




THE PYRAMID-SHAPED ZIGGURAT ROSE SOME SEVENTY FEET OUT of the desert floor before him. Its mud-brick core and fired-brick shell rose defiantly up toward the heavens. At its summit was a shrine to Nannar, the moon God. And all of Ur, capital of Mesopotamia, came to this place seeking an encounter with the numinous.

With piercing eyes, the aging patriarch pondered his religious traditions. The priests had spoken and sung ancient tales of many gods, endless cosmic wars, and men controlled by the deities like puppets on strings—dancing, jumping, falling, and loving at the whims of capricious spirits and mindless forces, all enslaving humanity in a tiresome cycle of endless sacrifices and rituals.

Wearied by religion, all of Abram's soul cried out for relationship. As he gazed wishfully into the expanse of stars on this night of the new moon, his gaunt, weathered face formed a puzzled bust with deep lines sculpted by the invisible finger of loneliness. Rituals gave no answers to the whys of existence. Religion offered no hope for life's despair. And the gods were silent in spite of the priest's desperate incantations and incense offerings.

But Abram sensed a presence permeating the universe into which he gazed. With awe, he pondered the mystery of existence and felt himself fascinated and drawn to an invisible One whose presence was real and approachable.

As you journey with Abram, the friend of God, take a few moments each day to write down your responses. After five days, spend your sixth day as a day of reflection, and then on the seventh day rest, reflect, and refresh. Let me remind you again. Don't rush. Inviting God's presence takes time.


Available to Pursue God's Presence

AS ABRAM STOOD BEFORE PHYSICAL ZIGGURATS, YOU have stood before the cultural ziggurats of money, fame, power, and sex, wondering what you had to sacrifice next to find a friend. Yes, some friends came to your aid when you needed them, but compared to what you had invested, their assistance fell far short of the expected return. They took more than they gave. As your money dwindled, your fame tarnished, your power faded, and your youthful lusts wanted, the number of reliable friends diminished proportionately. When the currency of your availability became devalued by time or circumstance, their use for you quickly diminished. Friends seemed to recede like the tide. When you needed their presence the most, they seemed forever absent, busy with their own pursuits.

Even when a high tide of relationship carried you to higher expectations and greater hope, the best of friends failed to have lasting power through the tough crises of life. Many friendships started strong, like a sprinter rushing headlong toward the finish line However, the friend you needed would have had to be a marathoner. Your sprinter friends started strong but finished weak.

Is there a friend who will run the whole race with you and finish strong? Consider for a moment the qualities you imagine a true friend possessing.

The five most important qualities I look for in a true friend are

1. ________________________________________________

2. ________________________________________________

3. ________________________________________________

4. ________________________________________________

5. _______________________________________________

Often you put your ear to the train track, hoping to hear the sound of an approaching engine pulling a trainload of friends who will be there when you need them. Straining to hear the slightest sound or the faintest refrain, you silenced your pounding heart so a sound from anyone out there might be captured and relished as a friendly voice in the damning silence. Was there someone present beyond the silence?

I have noticed that my extroverted grandson has difficulty enduring silence for any length of time. When the TV is turned off and the radio or CD player is mute, he begins his private, Personal quest for response. Should no one in the room be speaking to him, he begins to talk to himself. At first, he whispers questions hoping someone or something might respond. Then he sings. It's as if he's trying to prime the well of silence with his own words, vainly hoping to evoke a response. When no one answers, my grandson finally blasts the stillness with the reverberating question so many have asked through the ages. "Is anyone to me?

Gazing into the same sky centuries later that Abram peered into, you join the patriarch, asking the question so many have pondered over the centuries: Is anyone there? Is someone there for me? Is anyone listening?

Silencing the voices around and within me, I hear





  Listen to inspirational music and focus your attention on hearing God.

  Choose a favorite scripture passage such as, "Be still and know that I am God." 1 Find a comforting, serene place to sit, kneel, or lie down. Remove all outside distractions. (For example, turn off the TV, phone, radio, stereo, or computer.) Becoming perfectly still, tense each set of your muscles in turn, relaxing and breathing deeply after each set. Each time you slowly inhale, Think, "Be still." As you slowly exhale, think," And know that I am God." Silence all distracting voices within you that allow your thoughts to wander take five or more minutes to do this. As you mediate, listen only to the thoughts or images that the passage inspires.

  Read from a devotional or inspirational book that uplifts you and fixes your attention on God, some possible resources include My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, Disciplines for The Inner Life by Bob and Michael V. Benson, and Lord Hear Our Prayer by Thomas McNally and William G. Storey. After reading for about five minutes, stop and reflect on what you have read. In a journal, jot down your thoughts about God. Especially listen to those thoughts that are fresh and encouraging.

Pursuing God's presence requires availability.


The Wall of Silence

WHAT IF THERE WAS SOMEONE OUT THERE BEYOND our world and he was not silent? Yet when he spoke no one listened. Imagine decades passing and God's presence calling out for just one child, one man, one woman to reply. Like a street preacher shouting sermons on a sidewalk to countless passersby who refused to make eye contact or slow their gait, God perched on the edge of eternity's precipice and called out. "Hey, you, need a friend?"

Nomads and caravans of traders passed through the desert day after day, peddling their goods across the Fertile Crescent from the Indian subcontinent to Egypt. None heard the voice. City dwellers in Ur and Haran shaped their pots, carved their wood, and traded their crafts. None heard the voice.

Busy with the chores that filled their lives, the ancients were more like us than we might imagine. Stress hampered and hindered them as it does us. Even if God had walked down the narrow streets and shopped in the open air market, few would have stopped to notice him as anything other than a customer. They were selling; he was buying. Inviting God simply wasn't part of the equation.

How many had God approached before that fateful starlit night when Abram stood alone before the cosmos wondering if someone was there for him? How many had failed to hear the quiet whisper of one who could only be heard if all other voices were silenced?

That is the key: Friendship requires listening—suppressing the roar of the crowd or the din of inner turmoil. Being in God's presence demands verbal intercourse, giving and taking, not always talking. But you have had only enough time for stringed—together, staccato monologues that pose as counterfeit dialogues:

"I want a Number One."

"Combo? Drink with fries?"




"Something to drink with that?"

"Diet Coke."

"That's four ninety—five. Pull up to the first window to pay."

Instead of talking with others, you talk at others, like speaking into a box at the drive-through window. You talk to get something from them, all the while completely uninterested in their needs or concerns.

Consequently, you never get to know other people. Your conversations are with strangers—you want something from them or they need something from you. Like parallel railway tracks, no connection is possible; there is nothing more than an occasional solitary tie making a momentary connection for exchange. Nothing personal transpires. Proximity, not presence, has occurred; you only experience emptiness.

You have learned an eternal truth in the passionate, personal pursuit of God: Proximity alone cannot equate with presence.

When someone is truly present and there for me, that person




Pursuing God's presence must be more than having two parallel monologues Pursuing his presence is not simply trying to get something from him while paying the cheapest possible price in obedience. You can't think of interaction as simply, "How much penance must I do to correct this wrong? How many prayers must I deposit like coins in a slot machine before the winning answer comes out?"

The truth of the matter is this: Manu hunger desperately for God's presence, but only a few will passionately pursue him. In spite of all the pious—sounding words or religious language, few take the time or have the inclination to listen. Recognizing this, Jesus remarked, "But the Gateway to Life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it." 2

You have begun the journey of finding God's presence. And therefore you have begun to realize that in our culture, like Abram's, many are so busy doing that no time is left becoming. Religion—as opposed to relationship—is nothing more than doing. If you are doing something for God, you expect God to be doing something for you. But what's exchanged through doing is nothing more than "stuff." Pursuit has become the end, not the means; you are doing in order to get.

Your expectations are:

  I give money; God gives money back.

  I do good; God blesses me.

  I obey his commands; God rewards me after this life.

All this smacks of religiosity, teetering dangerously close to the edge of hypocrisy's cliff.

Religions abound for the doers. But only relaters find God's presence. If religion is about doing, relationship is about being and becoming. Spiritual intimacy requires friendship. In Abram's day as today, God looked for a friend, not an employee, partner, investor, or customer. God wasn't interested in a franchise or a public offering; he simply wanted a friend to abide in his presence—someone to talk with. With the days and months turning into years, God's presence moved through time with grace. He sought one who would listen—one who might carry on a dialogue instead of retreating to a familiar monologue learned at the altar of an idol.

Idols are comforting and decorative but lacking in social skills. They make great statues but serve as poor substitutes for friends. You can talk at them but never with them. You can offer sacrifices but never get responses. One named Elijah fund this truth centuries ago. One a wind-swept mount called Carmel, Elijah challenged the prophets of the idol-God Baal to a duel. Believing idols to be friends, the prophets danced, chanted, and cried out to Baal for an answer, but they received only silence. Then Elijah called out to the living God, and fire rained down from heaven Someone was there, and he was not silent! Elijah walked away as God's friend; the prophets lost the contest and then their lives.

The moral? Religion's hype never satisfies; religion's addiction always requires more and more from you while giving nothing back except exhaustion and death Relationship is vital.

Inviting God starts with being instead of doing. You've never referred to your self as a human doing, right? Just the opposite is true. You are a human being. When two beings talk and listen to one another, the wall of silence is shattered and seeds of a developing friendship are sown.

What must I cease doing a start pursuing God's presence?





  Consider all the ways you are a good friend. Make a list of those ways. Which one of these ways will you try in pursuing God's presence?




  List the things that others do to you that keep you from wanting to be their friends. Decide not to treat God in these ways.




  In the silence, let go of negative thoughts and feelings toward God. Make an effort to begin thinking and feeling positively about God.

Pursuing God's presence bridges silence with listening and dialogue.


The Wall of Mistrust

WHERE MUST YOU GO TO FIND GOD? IF INVITING God's presence is just a matter of going somewhere, then simply going to a game, a bar, a club, a social, an event would be all it takes to enter into a friend's presence. But think for a moment. Is it a crowd that you want? Do you want to have to single a friend out of a group? What if you're in the wrong crowd? You could get shackled with someone who might at first look like a friend but in actuality is an enemy.

Friends require screening and individual scrutiny. Why? Because you can't trust everyone you meet—even in the right crowd. Haven't child-abusing priests inhabited some churches? Haven't sexual predators stalked their prey in singles' groups? Whom can you trust to be your friend? With whom can you be alone and feel safe and secure?

My most trusted friends are




Now look over your list and circle the names of those friends who would never let you down or betray you.

How many names did you circle? Fewer than you expected to? Betrayal may have slammed you so often that now you trust no one. Perhaps those who pretended to be your friends stabbed you in the back. And now you've erected a wall of mistrust so no one can "do you in" again. But will the wall of mistrust really protect you? Or will it simply cut you off from the One who would be your true friend?

Try this exercise: Ask someone to stand about an arm's length behind you. Announce to your assistant that on the count of three you will fall with complete trust and abandon into his outstretched arms. Close your eyes. Lock your knees. On the count of three, shift your full weight back, pivoting on your heels and falling recklessly into the arms of the one who is three—unseen, invisible, but surely willing to catch you.

Or is he? And even if he is willing, is he strong enough to keep you from falling?

You may believe a friend would never let you fall. But you have fallen often since childhood. Some of the falls tore at your psyche and shattered your self confidence and respect. Other falls robbed you of money, time, relationships, and opportunities. Predictably, each fall added another brick to your wall of mistrust. You thought, If God was there for me, why didn't he keep me from falling?

But were the falls your fault or God's? More important, even if each fall can be blamed on consequences arising from your own poor judgment or erroneous ways, why didn't God, like a true friend, simply bail you out?

Of course the answer is that true friends don't always bail us out. If they did, we would never learn from our mistakes.

If you feel that God has let you down in the past, then a wall of mistrust and unforgiveness toward him has most likely formed within you. Before you can find God's presence, you must forgive him for not catching you when you thought he should. Of course, the question is not whether or not he should have caught you. The fact is that you had expectations for how God should act in your life … and he didn't. Still, even though he did nothing wrong, forgiving him is necessary for your own sake. You expected someone to be there for you, and when that expectation wasn't fulfilled, you began to build your wall. Before you can trust, you must forgive.

My prayer for forgiveness from God for wishing him to be or do what / expected is:





  If you remember a time when a friend let you down, work on forgiving that friend before trying to forgive God. Lack of forgiveness toward others will be a wall between you and God. If that person is still alive, write a letter, make a call, send an e-mail, or go to them and be reconciled.

  Remember a time when a friend forgave you. Quietly begin thanking God for others who have forgiven you. You might pray. "God, I am thankful for ______________who forgave me and made the effort to restore our friendship."

  If you feel you have failed to live up to God's expectations of you, be assured that simply by asking for forgiveness, you will receive it. Memorize this promise: "For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You." 3

Pursuing God's presence requires us to forgive God for not living up to our expectations of him.


Moving beyond Mistrust

THE WALL OF MISTRUST FORMS AROUND EXPERIENCES. An experience is simply a set of facts you or I must interpret and give meaning to. Without that sense of perspective to help us understand what has happened, experiences would simply weave through our consciousness without form.

So, if our experiences are he facts, what is the final truth? An investigator at a crime scene accumulates myriad facts. But she must then organize and interpret them to arrive at a premise she believes to be the truth. The same is true of us. Circumstantial evidence in our lives may at times indicate God is not there. Or, if he is, he is temporarily absent, at best, or malevolent, at worse.

Circumstantial evidence never fully paints the picture of his presence. Looking back on our lives, we often see meaning and purpose in past events after they have transpired. During those trying and exasperating circumstances we may have felt alone and abandoned by God. But now, in maturity, we know that feelings are real but not always reality.

So with hindsight we come to the realization that God as at work for good in all things. A momentary silence was simply a pause, not an absence. For us, that pause may have seemed unending. But later, We discovered that what seemed so terrible actually worked out for the best and what felt so lonely was actually an imagined and temporary silence birthed by our impatience.

But have you considered the possibility that it is your wall of mistrust that has kept God's presence away? Perhaps you have chosen to believe what you perceived and interpreted instead of listening for his voice and understanding his ways. How then can you move past your preconceived notions and embrace the God who is waiting for you?

If friendship between humans is exacerbating, then how much more frustrating finding God's presence must be! To think that one who is finite can join hands and heart with One who is infinite is quite a stretch. Knowing how easily mistrust arises between humans, how much more the possibility of mistrust between flesh and spirit?

Still, remember that the relationship between what is seen and what is not seen was easily possible as a child. We need to remember that even as adults we have the capacity to see beyond the natural into the supernatural. No fact verifies love, but love is real. No circumstance dictates compassion, but compassion is a truth that transcends the suffering of the innocent. Therefore, even if the facts suggest no one is out there, we need to accept the possibility that God is there and we're simply not listening.

The wall of mistrust creates a perception that choose facts over real truth, stuff over relationship, loneliness over connectedness, and independence over interdependence. Mistrust cries out: "I don't need anyone, especially someone unseen. I can make it by myself. I can perceive facts with my senses. The invisible doesn't exist; the supernatural can never happen; miracles cannot occur. Life is trapped in a box of existence walled in by birth and death and filled with meaningless circumstances."

Finding God cannot happen as long as you choose to live behind this wall of mistrust.

The reasons for which I feel mistrust are (circle any that apply):

• Someone has hurt me.


On Sale
May 30, 2009
Page Count
320 pages