I struggle with consistent authentic intimacy with God. I desire it but my life is not always disciplined enough to achieve it. Some days intimacy with God seems like a mystery or like mist in the air that disappears before I can get a touch. And the temptation is just to settle for momentary spiritual ecstasy rather than the consistent authentic intimacy. The writer of Psalm 91 must be able to relate because in the opening lines there is the assurance that we can abide beneath the shadow of the almighty. That we don’t have to settle for fake spiritual fantasy and church highs that last until Monday Morning at 11 when the pressures of real life have removed us from the mountains peak, no the Psalmist offers hope that we can abide "beneath the shadows."
The Psalmist describes that the path to long lasting intimacy with God begins in "secret places." Three things I offer from my own life that I believe might help us establish consistent authentic intimacy with God beneath the Shadow.
1. Silent Fellowship - whether this is through meditation, prayer, solitude or a combination of all of these we all need to find sometime alone to spend with God. Jesus would get away from his disciples to spend silent fellowship with the Father. These times serves to strengthen and aid him for the challenges of life and ministry.
I can tell when I am weak and vulnerable in my life, when I am feeling far from God and far from his presence it's when the public life of my ministry is not lining up with the private life of my devotion. Business will never trump secret fellowship. God will only take us as far as we are willing to go in our fellowship with him. My own silent time with God has to be a priority.
Developa personal routine that you can build your day around that ensures you some time for silent fellowship.
2. Silent Followship - Sometimes we put too much emphasis on a Christian's public witness and not their private habits, not realizing what we do in private shapes what we exhibit in public. I am convinced that the more time we spend with God in fellowship, the more our behavior will be influenced. I desire to commit my life to following God not to be seen with God in a fiery furnace, but solitude of my diet and devotion.
Pray for one way you can begin to be obedient to God and Follow God's direction in your own life.
3. Silent Stewardship - The things we spend our time and money on tells the story of what we value. In Matthew 6, we are warned against making our giving a public spectacle to be recognized. When we devote ourselves to giving and service we are offering to God the symbols of the world as a sacrifice. We are reminding ourselves that nothing takes priority over our relationship with God.
Ironically technology allows us to do just this. Online giving option allow us to give without being seen or rewarded. The true test of our giving is our obedience to God and God's word.
Make a commitment to be a consistent giver to your church.
The God that desires to cover us in the shadow wants to meet us in the secret place. I want that relationship with God and the way we find safety beneath the shelter of God's shadow is by our devotion to secret habits.
Rev. Jeremiah Isaiah Chester serves as Senior Pastor of St. Mark Baptist Church in Huntsville, AL. He became a licensed minister at the tender age of 14. Pastor Chester has always had a heart for reaching people in the community in which he serves. As such, he led a team which founded,Roosevelt Leadership Academy for Young Men at Roosevelt Middle School in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Academy was designed to prepare middle school male students for education and life by exposing them to community and culture. In addition, he served as Administrator and Magnet Coordinator for the school.
Additional experience includes; Teaching Assistant in Homiletics to Dr. Cleo LaRue, Youth Pastor at the Christ Fellowship Church of Brooklyn, New York under Dr. David L. Kelley, Pastor to Students and Families at Orthodox Zion, and Vice President and Bible Expositor of the East Florida Primitive Baptist Convention
He is a graduate of Samford University in Birmingham, AL and Princeton Seminary in Princeton, NJ.
In the fall of 2012 he was honored as one of South Florida’s Black Leaders Under 40 of Today and Tomorrow by Legacy Magazine of the Palm Beach Post.
He is the son of Dr. James and Ann Chester of West Palm Beach, FL. On July 20, 2013, he married the former Ms. Brittannie Stanley of Leighton, AL who works as a registered dietician, specializing in diabetic health and education.