I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how powerful our presence can be. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about this in terms of Baby K, our foster child. Most days when we visit him in the NICU, we are able to hold him and provide kangaroo care. But there are some days when he is having testing done or is just having a bad day and isn’t able to tolerate getting out of his isolette to be held. On those days, we just sit there, maybe occasionally talking or reading to him. When I’m not able to physically do anything to help him, I find myself getting restless, assuming that my presence with him doesn’t matter.
It seems that presence requires two things at a bare minimum- time and patience. I’m realizing that just because I have time, doesn’t automatically mean I have patience. When I sit by Baby K’s bed for long periods of time, simply watching him sleep and breathe, I begin to feel impatient and wonder when I will finally be able to actively participate in his care. During one of these moments I started getting curious about what the bible says about presence, and I was reminded that God is extremely present with his people, so much so that he sent Jesus and the Holy Spirit to be with us! In Matthew 28:20, Jesus says to his friends, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
As anyone who has walked with God for any length of time has probably come to realize, it doesn’t always feel like he is doing something big and dramatic in our lives. He can perform miracles and blow our minds whenever he wants, but in my own faith walk, those mountaintop experiences do not occur every single day. What does occur every single day, leading me to believe it might be even more necessary, is God’s presence with us. In fact, his presence with us is so important that it is eternal. Once this temporary world passes away, we will be in an unshakable kingdom that is characterized by the nearness of God. Revelation 21:3 describes the new earth in this way, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”
We have the opportunity to model God’s love for us in so many different ways, and I’m starting to understand that one of those sacred ways is with our presence. It’s nothing fancy or expensive, just a simple offering of our time and attention. I know this may be a strange time to talk about physical presence, as most of us are quarantined in our homes and “social distancing” has become the new gold standard. But perhaps it’s this time of isolation that has caused me to reflect more on the power of presence, all the ways I have taken it for granted, and how I hope to practice it more in the future.
In a world that glorifies productivity, speed, and “doing” over “being,” let’s remember that slowing down and offering someone the simple gift of our presence might just be the most powerful act of all.