The Gift of Presence

17 March 2021

Have you ever felt alone? We all have had moments where we are physically alone; when we long for the presence of another human being just because we are scared, sad, or uncertain about our surroundings. My husband often recalls a story about the terrors of hiking in the Sierras in the middle of the night after returning a homesick, timid student to his parents. Darkness, obscured path, lurking shadows – no thank you!

What emotions have you experienced when you felt alone? Fear? Uncertainty? Anxiety? Desperation? Similar feelings of loneliness were likely experienced by the disciples following Jesus’ death. They had just spent three years devoting their lives to following their Rabbi and friend. They trusted Jesus and believed that following him meant he would be there in their time of need. Then all of a sudden his words started to make some sense. Jesus was arrested, tried, tortured and then hung on a cross to die. Three days later he appeared to them alive! Confusion probably just barely describes the emotions that were swirling within their souls. After his resurrection, Jesus came before the disciples with a challenge; the next steps that would be required to keep following him. He told them to keep going, to train and instruct others what he had taught them to practice. Even so, Matthew 28:17 says that some doubted. It was clear that this path would not be easy, that they would face hardships and likely feel alone. Yet, the point of commitment seemed plausible because of Jesus’ words in verse 20 where he concludes his challenge with, “behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

God’s promise of presence is not for a fleeting moment but for eternity. He walks with us through the dark paths and the lurking shadows. He is also with us in the joys and celebrations of life! He doesn’t promise that life will be without trials. In fact, following Jesus is not easy and many will reject the truth. 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that, “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” Timothy goes on to say in verse 14, “Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you.” We do not need to fear because we are empowered by the Holy Spirit who is always with us! This is amazing! Not only are we never left alone but we possess the presence of the Almighty who is with us at every moment of every day.

When has God’s presence been so real that it makes you giddy and you just want to shout for joy; telling the world about his amazing grace!?  Try starting a “Presence Journal”. Write down every time you feel God’s presence supernaturally sustaining you, then share it with others.

When has God felt distant? When has his presence seemed vague or unavailable? When have you been afraid to proclaim your faith and hope in Jesus? During these times of desolation, revisit your Presence Journal and recall the moments when God’s presence has been evident. Ask that he will make himself real to you. God loves to answer his children who call out to him!

Lynette Fuson
Director of Counseling & Soul Care