David wrote in the Psalms that there is nowhere one can go where God’s Presence is absent. However, there is a marked difference between His limitless existence and His manifested Presence. One can intellectually know His ever-present nature while not having experienced the reality of tangibly feeling His Presence.
A.W. Tozer uses the analogy of the sun to describe the difference between God’s omnipresence and His manifest Presence. The sun is always there in the sky whether the clouds obscure our view or not. However, it is something altogether different when we feel the heat emanating on a sunny day and see the coloration of our skin after soaking in the rays.
Scriptures tell us that God’s Presence came to rest inside the Most Holy Place in the Temple.
God manifested Himself in the Ark of the Covenant, a shadow of what was to come. Upon the finished work of Christ, the Temple curtain was literally rent in two physically illustrating the new reality of full access to God through Jesus Christ. Thus it is not strange to speak of experiencing God’s tangible Presence, and in fact, it is stranger to not experience this reality promised to us.
However, many lack experience because they lack knowledge of its possibility. Some have experienced God in such a way and dismissed it due to a lack of knowledge. Others have yearned for such intimacy with God and yet were unaware that God has made this possible for them. Our mental picture of unworthiness can hinder our entering this kind of intimacy with Him.
Remember, God walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden. Having intimacy with God is natural to the way we are designed and is made available through Jesus. These experiences with God vary from person to person. Three children can share the same natural father and yet receive love from him in different ways according to their individual personalities. One may delight in receiving gifts, another hug, and another just hanging out and talking.
Experiencing God’s presence
Therefore the way one person experiences God can be different from the next. However, to share a personal illustration, God’s presence can be experienced as a wave or surge of soft electricity of sorts pulsating within and upon your physical body. Sometimes people feel Him as peace or joy. Sometimes there is laughter or crying. At times God comes so strongly people cannot stand up any longer because His glory is so thick and heavy. Sometimes you will feel Him in a tangible way while praying for someone else and sometimes they will feel him and you will not. The point is that He is there even when we don’t feel Him.
We cannot limit the ways that God can reveal Himself to us. Even if the specific way you encounter Him isn’t recorded in Scripture, it can still legitimately be God. As you spend time with Him you begin to recognize Him showing up just as you would recognize your parent’s or spouse’s walk, voice, laugh, etc. God wants to fellowship with us and we were designed for fellowship with Him. It’s a wonderful reality and it is fully available to all who seek Truth.