Sunday, April 22, 2007


nuqDaq laH jIH jaH vo' lIj qa'? joq nuqDaq laH jIH Haw' vo' lIj Daq?

Where could I go from your Spirit? Or where could I flee from your presence? Psalm 139:7

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Without a transporter, shuttlecraft or starship - any one of us can extend our presence across the solar system right now. Thanks to what is called, telepresence

"...a set of technologies which allow a person to feel as if they were present, to give the appearance that they were present, or to have an effect, at a location other than their true location."

Today, from my desktop at home, I can tap into a web cam and look out at the view from my work. Or check on Old Faithful. Or, I can take up a position far above Earth and follow storms across the globe. Tapping into NASA and ESA I can get recent images from Mars and beyond.

Technology gives us a variety of ways to extend our presence. Parents use two-way intercom s and video monitors to watch over sleeping infants. Cellphones and instant messaging allow distant loved ones to stay in touch. Someday, perhaps holographic telepresence will allow us to participate in gatherings across the world or even the solar system.

Technologically extended presence - telepresence - has a chilling side as well. Recent news from Great Britain about batteries of cameras - along with a loudspeaker and microphone to inform people of their misbehaviour has alarmed many. Having the police watch, and command from a distance may be "efficient" but it is hardly comforting.

Here in Psalm 139, we are reflecting on God's presence - an inescapable presence that is truly everywhere.

In Klingon I've used a very simple word for presence, Daq. By itself it means "location." As a suffix, it can indicate a place/location for an activity - for example QongDaq (Qong, to sleep, plus Daq) means "bed." On the other hand, the Hebrew word translated "PRESENCE" here is paniym, used nearly 1900 times in the Bible is more complex. It's a plural form "faces" literally, from the verb for "to turn," that is "to face." When we think of being in God's presence - it is a personal thing, it is His FACE, his attention, his concern that we are before.

It's not surprising that just as teleprences can be threat and comfort, Scripture also reflects this regarding another kind of extended presence: God's omnipresence.

As Job said:
No wonder I am so terrified in his presence. When I think of it, terror grips me. God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me. (Job 23:15,16 NLT)

The good news is that when we have made peace with God, the awareness of his presence can be a joy.

One of my treasured Bible study tools is the Thompson Chain Reference Bible ( I especially enjoy the way it provides a topical cross-reference across the whole Bible for different themes and ideas - in particular it was very useful in considering how God's omnipresence means we can know that his nearness brings a multidimensional comfort to believers in the pilgrimage of life

(Genesis 28:15 WEB) Behold, I am with you, and will keep you, wherever you go, and will bring you again into this land. For I will not leave you, until I have done that which I have spoken of to you."
As the Israelites fled Egypt, they were reminded how His presence will keep them going:
(Exodus 33:14 WEB) He said, "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."

So too, they were reminded that God gives courage in Life's battles :

(Deuteronomy 20:1 WEB) When you go forth to battle against your enemies, and see horses, and chariots, and a people more than you, you shall not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.

Through the prophet Isaiah we hear of comfort in trials:

(Isaiah 43:2 WEB) When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle on you.

We also need to remember, as Jesus assures, God's presence is there even in the smallest assembly of believers
(Matthew 18:20 WEB) For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them."

And best of all - it doesn't have a limit - it will last till the end of time, as we're reminded:

(Matthew 28:20 WEB) Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

nuqDaq laH jIH jaH vo' lIj qa'? joq nuqDaq laH jIH Haw' vo' lIj Daq?

Where could I go from your Spirit? Or where could I flee from your presence? Psalm 139:7

Baby monitors, web cams, Police CCTV systems, cell phones and more are technological tools that extend our presence. For good or ill, they can be a comfort or threat.

But the presence of God, the presence that we can never escape, is one He wishes not to be a threat, but a real and powerful comfort. A comfort that will give us peace, courage and joy.


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