By Courtney Lee
“Mom! Mommy… MOM!!!”
(looking up from my phone) “Yes hunny?”
(glancing their way) “Uh huh! Great job, sweetie.” (back to phone)
“Mom! Did you see? Mom! Did you?”
“Yep, baby! Good job.”
“Mom! You’re not watching! How will you seeee meee if you’re not watching?”
“I’m right here, love— like literally two feet away.”
“That doesn’t mean you’re watching…
I want you to be with me!”
I’ve spent whole seasons of my life in proximity to what’s going on but not present to the realities of what is right in front of me. As the world has sped up, technology has increased, and the pressure to perform has amplified, presence is now a discipline to be desired instead of a common benchmark of people’s lives. It’s a skill that now takes intentionality and counter-cultural decisions. It takes making people a priority again and using what we have to serve others instead of ourselves. It takes crucifying the desires to scroll and control simultaneously, sacrificing our ideals of what “should be” based on what we’ve just seen on Instagram, and burying the pursuit of prestige and propinquity for the sweet gift of being present to what God is doing in our lives.
As we’ve been celebrating Advent this month, there has been a shift in focus, a reminder of what matters, a renewed wonder of what that baby in a manger 2000ish years ago really did for our world. His presence perfected love for us, and as we sit in His presence now, we experience this perfect love for ourselves.
The town of Bethlehem was bustling back then. Enough people were around that every inn was at capacity. Every home had guests. No vacancy was left for Joseph and Mary. Plenty of people were within the vicinity but very few were in the presence of the Christ-Child. The hustle and bustle were enough to keep most occupied and out of sight. But a select few paused in the pressing on and received the gift of God’s actual, physical accessibility.
If I’m to live out my goal for this Advent Season: to live in the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 3:19) and not in the excess of this world, God’s presence is absolutely essential. As a byproduct of being in the presence of the great I AM each day, I am equipped to operate by an other-worldly set of standards. The scales of habit and ritual and selfishness and materialism can give way to a new way to see this life we’ve been given to live:
- To see each person anew, as a fresh gift from God that day.
- To sit and just be with our Good, Good Father and still call it a productive day.
- To serve as if we have all the time in the world.
- To listen like there’s not 154 notifications buzzing on our SmartWatch as we talk.
- To forgive as if we believe God can actually restore and redeem.
- To give as if God can refill just as fast as we can pour out.
So, friends— choose presence over proximity over these last few weeks of 2020. Don’t settle for being “close enough” but turn off the noise. Notice you’re not alone, and sit with Jesus for awhile.
Ephesians 10:19-25 ESV19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.