This will sound like a controversial statement but I assure you it is very sound theology: not everything in the OT accurately represents the heart & character of God. One of those OT concepts, & probably the most damaging thing I was taught growing up in church, was that, “because God is so holy he cannot be in the presence of sin.” That one little statement (& continued emphasis) caused me to believe that any less than perfect action on my part (losing my patience, cussing, an impure thought...) would immediately cause the presence of God to depart from me until I repented. The Holy Spirit was like a yo-yo in my life & without realizing it I had adopted a faith that was overwhelmingly rooted in my works, behavior, & obedience rather than God’s grace, Jesus’ faithfulness, & the constant (& precious) indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Seeing the Incarnation, Jesus coming into the world as fully God & man, in a fuller light was a game changer for me. God chose to come to us, “in a land of deep darkness (a light has come)” so that overwhelmingly convinced me that God not only can be in the presence of sin but actually runs towards it! And if Jesus/God incarnate ran towards the sin of the world then maybe, just maybe he doesn’t run away from me after every little (or big) mistake I make. And maybe, just maybe, he is kind to the broken-hearted (what is more kind than being WITH someone when they are down or wayward?). That little epiphany (see what I did there?) caused the theological dam to break in my life & I started seeing the Abba revealed in Jesus as running toward the wayward son (prodigal son story) rather than refusing grace until he groveled & repented for hours. I now see that Jesus is the kindness of God that provokes us to repent. Because I know he is gracious & merciful I am now so much more interested in knowing & modeling him more.
So what does all of this mean? His presence is real & you can trust it/him. We need his presence, your friends, relatives, co-workers, kids, etc need his presence...& he’s even closer than we think. If you needed to hear that then drink it in & if you already know that then be a herald of that good news!
Much love to you all, Chris.