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Knots.

Your presence is your present

Wednesday, May 06, 2015
Your presence is your present

You’ve gotten that party invitation before, right? It tells you when to arrive, where to come, what to wear, and that “your presence is your present.” It’s a gracious way of saying there’s no need to bring a gift because it adds that your celebrating with the guest of honor is itself a gift.

In our relationships, the “ministry of presence” is valuable beyond words (literally). There are moments when there is little or nothing helpful to say. But the fact that someone was there – being present with you, experiencing life with you, crying with you, holding you – made all the difference. It means you’re no longer grieving, wondering, or struggling alone; someone has entered in to shoulder the burden with you even though they can’t say or do anything to make it go away.

In my opinion, this is one of the greatest gifts we give to each other in small groups, in true community. It’s a gift in all sorts of situations – good and bad, mundane and crisis. It’s the friends showing up on your doorstep late at night when you’ve just lost a loved one. It’s the brothers and sisters joining you to celebrate a child’s graduation or wedding. It’s the friend sitting with you while you wait for the surgery to finish or the test results to come back. It’s the group who has prayed with you during 50 gatherings week in and week out for the last two years. In all of those moments, their presence is their present!

One of the reasons the ministry of presence is so important is that it is so like God. The consistent message of Scripture (its most repeated command) is “do not fear,” and the consistent comfort (its most repeated reason not to fear) is “for I am with you.” Particularly in the person of Jesus, God showed up to be present in our pain and struggle. Now of course God has also worked to solve our greatest problem and remove our deepest pain. But often he doesn’t show up to “fix” the particular situation; rather, he promises to endure the pain with us, to be present to remind us we are not alone and we can trust him.

As a small group leader, friend, spouse, or parent, there will be many times you feel you don’t have the right words to say. You feel awkward, inadequate, burdensome. It may be quite the opposite. It may be that no words are needed. It may be you are deeply comforting and helpful. It may be the best gift you can give is “just” being there. In our fast-paced, self-serving world where time is always of the essence, slowing down to give the present of your presence is indeed a great gift.

Comments

will.spink | May 06 2015 at 6:44 am

Moments from my life that immediately come to mind:

1) In sorrow … When we miscarried our first child, the presence of dear friends was invaluable, and the most helpful visits involved few words and many tears.

2) In joy … When our girls were born, the presence of friends dropping by the hospital to celebrate brought even greater joy to those first special days.

3) In the ordinary … Some of my most trusted friends are those I would describe as “he’s just always been there” over many years and much life.

Dave | May 06 2015 at 9:25 am

So many times Gracie just accepting my fallenness and loving me in the middle of it pushes back the loneliness and the curse is pushed back by the blessing of her ongoing presence. 

Thanks for this reminder.  Patient presence is a fruit of the Spirit that I am looking forward to maturing in me…so far, nary a blossom to be seen most of the time. Drat. 

It is in the fact that he is patiently present with me in my very lack of patience that I find so much comedy. Only God could have come up with this whole strange situation.

Anonymous | May 07 2015 at 11:05 am

Just as I am quick to forget God’s promise of presence, I often find myself believing the lie that I am alone in whatever life circumstance I may be facing. While God’s presence fills our ultimate need, He has given us His body as a tangible expression of His love for us. I am grateful for all the places people have been physically present in our lives, but I am also encouraged when I get a simple text with the words, “I’m praying for you today.” Being told I’m remembered and prayed for during the week is a way people have been “present” in my life. I am reminded that I am not alone, but a part of a Body that loves and supports one another.

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You'll find most of my recommended books available in the Guest Center at Southwood.

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