Editor’s Note: This is part 5 in the series, Heirs of the Covenant.
“Susan’s book will convince you that each member of your church can truly find their place in this mission to make disciples of the next generation.” -Sue Jakes
(The following excerpts are from pages 33-38 in Heirs of the Covenant) .
What Is My Covenant Privilege
Jesus won for me the thrilling privilege of living in the presence of God. Moment by moment, day by day, year in and year out, God’s people live in His presence.
An understanding of God’s covenant promise to be our God, and a realization that this does not depend on our performance but on His provision, ushers us into the glorious truth that we live in His presence. His presence gives us purpose. His presence makes us safe. His presence fills us with joy and love. His presence is our life.
Moses understood this, and he would settle for nothing less. In Exodus 3 we read that he was in the desert, tending the flock of his father-in-law, when “the angel of the Lord appeared to him in the bush . . . God said, ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground . . . ” (Exodus 3:2-6).
Moses was in the desert. He was at work. But he was on holy ground because God was there. Living in the presence of God means that we are always on holy ground. His presence makes all of life sacred. For the Christian, there is no division between sacred and secular. All of life is sacred because it is lived for His glory and in His presence. All of life is to be brought under His lordship . . .
What Is My Covenant Responsibility?
Covenant-keeping is evidence of our covenant relationship with God. Covenant-keeping is necessary to enjoy covenant blessings. Obedience does not earn entrance into God’s presence. Obedience validates the reality of that relationship. “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15).
God has sovereignly drawn us into a relationship with Himself. We have the glorious privilege of living in His presence. Enjoying this privilege requires an intentional, disciplined pursuit.
It means we must “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
It means we are not to “conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind . . .” (Romans 12:2).
It means that whether you “eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Living in His presence will distinguish us from all the other people on the face of the earth (Exodus 33:16). When we live in His presence, we see His character. Then we turn and face every human relationship and situation and radiate His character.
Mrs. Johnston lived in God’s presence and radiated His character. She was one of the most powerful teachers I ever had, though I never saw her stand before a class. She was in her seventies when I met her. She joined our church, and many of us were never the same. She quietly taught us by her cheerful spirit, her gentle words of encouragement, and her constant love for God and His Word.
When Mrs. Johnston was confined to a bed in a nursing home, I often took my Sunday school class of first through third grade children to visit her. They would sing, recite memory verses, and listen as she told them about our wonderful Savior. Then they would form a line and take turns giving her a hug. Even as she grew increasingly frail, she delighted in the children, and they knew it.
One day, as the last child left her room, she took my hand and said with fervency, “They will not forget that you brought them.” And she was right. She was thanking me and saying it was a good thing for a Sunday school teacher to do, but the reason they did not forget is because of what she taught them, not because of what I did.
One Sunday after she died, our lesson was about joy. I began the lesson by asking, “Can anyone tell me what joy is?”
Without a moment’s hesitation a child said, “Mrs. Johnston.” No one snickered. The children knew the right answer had been given.
Mrs. Johnston taught those children, and me, what it means to live in God’s presence. The place did not matter. Her bed in a nursing home was holy ground because God was there. She celebrated His presence and radiated His character.
She was a true Christian educator.
Postscript: When the children and I squeezed into the elevator after our visits with Mrs. Johnston, I would always say, “One day you will be Sunday school teachers, and what will you do?”
They responded, “We will take the children to visit older people.”
I would then ask, “Whom will you visit?”
Their response. “You!”
Think about it!
Reflections for Women’s Ministry
How does your women’s ministry value and utilize the gifts of women like Mrs. Johnston?
How does your women’s ministry connect young women to older women?