“Daddy, Daddy! Look what I made!” Five year-old Danny rushed into the family room, his face flushed with excitement, waving his construction paper masterpiece. “It’s a snowman!”
His father glanced up briefly from the TV. “That’s good Danny.”
“Yeah Daddy, Teacher went to the snow and brought us back some. It was white and cold. It was wet and I got to touch it!” Danny began jumping up and down and waving his snowman again. But there was no response from his father, who was deeply buried in the local evening news sports report.
The smile faded from Danny’s face and his head fell. He shuffled out of the family room into the hallway and plopped down on the floor. Rusty, the family dog nuzzled him, licking away a tear trickling down his cheek.
Probably all of us can relate to this scenario of wanting to share our experience with someone who wasn’t really interested. In that moment we wanted their presence, but painfully felt their absence instead. And we were left alone with our wonder, excitement, or whatever we wanted to share, feeling a heavy void inside. Suddenly the universe became an empty and lonely place, and we felt very small.
This experience isn’t limited to childhood. It happens to us as adults too, more often than we probably care to acknowledge. The presence of another is powerful. When someone displays their interest in us by “being there” with undivided attention, they signal that we are important and have value to them. We feel validated and joined in our experience, and that sense of shared presence is deeply fulfilling. Shared presence is so important to human emotional health that psychologists tell us that love is spelled t-i-m-e.
Whose presence do you seek when you have something personally important to share? How often are they available, and what do you do when they aren’t “there” for you? Maybe if you are honest with yourself, you may be thinking, “No one is really there for me like that.” That can be a very lonely realization.
Over 2000 years ago, God gave the world His greatest present, His presence in human form. He became flesh, the baby Jesus, grew up and lived among us, so we could experience Him in a way we could understand. And when He physically left earth, He sent His Spirit so His presence could be with us always.
God wants to be present with you. Not is some abstract way, but in a deeply personal and intimate way. He is interested in every detail of your life, every “up” and “down” moment. He wants to give you undivided attention. He loves and values you and is never disinterested. He says: “I have loved you with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself.” (Jeremiah 31:3) “I will not in any way fail you, nor give you up, nor leave you without support.” (Hebrews 13:5)
God never forces Himself on anyone. He wants to be a constant presence in your life, always “there” for you, but you must invite Him in. Not sure how, or perhaps you’re not sure there really even is a God? No problem. You can begin by saying, “God if You are real, please make Yourself known to me. I invite Your presence into my life.” Then let Him respond. He will not disappoint or fail you. He will give you the present of His presence.
Please come and join us this Sunday, the day after Christmas, at 10:30AM to learn more about God’s greatest present. My sermon, “In the Fullness of Time” is part 4 in our Christmas series.