“Try to stay conscious of Me as you go step by step through this day. My presence with you is both a promise and a protection. After My resurrection, I assured My followers: Surely I am with you always. That promise was for all of My followers, without exception. The promise of My Presence is a powerful protection. As you journey through your life, there are numerous pitfalls along the way. Many voices clamor for your attention, enticing you to go their way. A few steps away from your true path are pits of self-pity and despair, plateaus of pride and self-will. If you take your eyes off Me and follow another’s way, you are in grave danger. Even well-meaning friends can lead you astray if you let them usurp My place in your life. The way to stay on the path of Life is to keep your focus on Me. Awareness of My Presence is your best protection.”
I want to take apart this devotion, and dive deep into how important it is to take this seriously and to heart. In our walk in faith, we must be aware of the presence of God. If we lose sight of it, the enemy comes in and starts to settle into our lives. The very first line of this devotion is “try to stay conscious of Me as you go step by step through this day.” The very fact that it starts with this statement is to get us in the right mindset. Every single day is a battle, and we must stay conscious of Christ. The next line, “My presence with you is both a promise and a protection,” is stating the power of His presence. It may not be tangible, but the Holy Spirit is evident in everything around us, and His presence is a major protection for our soul against the world. We can become so corrupt. We can fall into sin so easily, and I am a culprit of this. If we do not guard ourselves, we will walk straight into death; death of the spirit. It says that His presence is also a promise. This can mean a promise of a better future ahead of us, a promise of hope and peace. But it all boils down to our intentionality with God. Are we going to accept his promise and live it out? Or acknowledge it, then go back to whatever we were doing or thinking a few seconds before? There must be an act of obedience within the spiritual walk. You don’t have to get it right away, it’s a constant progression. It’s okay if you fail, and it’s okay if you get sucked into sin. You are not defined by your mistakes, but you are defined by how you approach it. So as you stray away from Christ’s conscious, you stray away from your spiritual progression because you are choosing not to own up to your faults and to not give it up to the cross. “Try to stay conscious of Me as you go step by step through this day. My Presence with you is both a promise and a protection.” It goes on to say that “that promise was for all of My followers, without exception.” Without exception. When we believe in Christ with our hearts and accept Him as our Saviour, we are promised His presence and Spirit. God never leaves us. Never. He doesn’t just dump His Holy Spirit onto us then peaces out. He is constantly inside of us, constantly working and shaping and molding us. Every step we take, he takes two. Every place we go, His Presence saturates that place. So the question follows: Do you believe it? Are you willing to seek His presence? If you say that He is quiet, evaluate yourself. Have you actively been in the Word? Have you intentionally thought about Him, about His presence and looked for scriptures? When was the last time you talked to Him? The fact that He is not a tangible God comes to a disadvantage to most. The whole talk about the Holy Spirit and His presence feels completely intangible, yet when we believe with our whole hearts and start to study and read and talk to Him, the more tangible the Spirit becomes. And that is why it is so important to stay conscious of Him every single day. One little rabbit trail can lead into treacherous paths that will be really hard to turn back from.
Now, I want to focus on a chunk of this devotion and go into understanding of what it truly means, going and applying it to our own lives. “As you journey through your life, there are numerous pitfalls along the way. Many voices clamor for your attention, enticing you to go their way. A few steps away from your true path are pits of self-pity and despair, plateaus of pride and self-will. If you take your eyes off Me and follow another’s way, you are in grave danger.” This is a heavy statement. This is acknowledging your sin, this is acknowledging your imperfect life. Once you believe in Christ, your life does not immediately get better. You will struggle just as much, and the enemy will knock you down anytime he gets a chance to. The reason being is that now that you have found truth and you’re doing something right, Satan is paying extra attention to you and will try to take you away from the presence of God. There is no sugar-coating this. That is why there must be an acknowledgement of the “numerous pitfalls,” of all the struggles that will come your way. Once you are aware of this, you can start to build up a strong foundation in Christ and have Him be your ultimate protector. I love how the next line says “many voices clamor for your attention, enticing you to go their way.” This indicates the world trying to grab a hold of you, and there will be temptations and struggles in your walk. There will be many voices to lead you in other paths, and there will be many lies that you will come to believe. I encourage you to break that as soon as you realize it. Once a lie has settled into your brain, it will begin to influence you and your thoughts. This is a dangerous pathway. It then goes on to say the outcomes of straying away from your true path in Christ: self-pity and despair, pride and self-will. Think about those. Self-pity and despair. Pride and self-will. Self-pity is such a huge struggle for me. I have suffered with wallowing in my negative thoughts that it had physically weighed me down. It’s like a progression. You start the day off great, you are energized and you feel so in tune with God. Then, a thought pops up, or even a present situation. And you just dive right in. It’s so easy to get caught in the moment. So so easy. Once you feed into it, self-pity starts to happen. Why is this happening to me? This shouldn’t be happening to me, it should be happening to someone else. I’m too good for this, I’m too in tune with God for this, why, why, why? Then follows despair. Despair is such a strong feeling, and it can overtake you instantly. The definition of despair is the complete loss or absence of hope. Complete. Not just partially. But complete loss of hope. Hope is Christ Jesus. Hope is the Kingdom. And all that hope is gone as soon as you trail away. As soon as you go into self-pity, despair immediately follows. It’s interesting how in this devotion it links despair with self-pity in the same sentence. I believe the reason being is because focusing on yourself in a negative way can lead you to lose all hope in humanity. You are looking at yourself as a victim, as someone who is in this situation and you see yourself as hurt, and with that comes despair. Pride and self-will go hand in hand as well. The definition of pride is a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired. Investing in people’s validation of you is such an unhealthy way to view yourself, as it takes your worth away from Christ. In the definition of pride it goes to say a “deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements.” The deep pleasure. Think about those words. Deep pleasure. There should be deep pleasure in God, not your own self. A prideful life leads to a prideful faith. Straying away from your true path is a prideful act. And going into the word self-will, that’s a powerful thing to look at. We believe that God created us, right? And that He formed us in His perfect image, and that He has our future in His hands and He knows where we go, right? Why are we trying to think otherwise? Self-will is the act of leading your own life without the influence of anything else. It is determining your own life, and taking steps to try and fulfill your own future and what you want to make of it. Self-will is pride. Self-will is not recognizing God’s plan for you, and not trusting in Him to lead your life. He created us. Why are we going against that? It is hard stuff to think about, and this is wrecking me as I am writing it. Sometimes we underestimate the danger of taking our eyes off of Christ for just a second, for tasting the world in just a brief moment. Just five seconds can lead to an eternity of despair. “If you take your eyes off Me and follow another’s way, you are in grave danger.” Be careful in where and who you put your time and energy into. There must be an awareness of Him in order for us to live a free life in joy.
Hebrews 12:1-2 was the verse given, and it wraps up all of this perfectly. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Let us strive to be pure in Christ, to run with perseverance and have strength in the Lord. Let us throw away the sin that so easily wraps around us, and to remember the sufferings that Christ endured on the cross. Do not be ashamed in your failings, we are only human. But do not be ashamed in Christ. You are worthy in the eyes of God, and He wants you to bask in His love and peace. Look to Him. Press in.