In the first post in this series, I discussed the need for us to know Jesus’ voice. Intimacy with God is key. There are disciplines in our lives that cultivate that intimacy with Him. My last post discussed the crucial role of scripture in our intimacy with God. Today I want to talk about the necessity of being present.
We’ve all been there. We were in a conversation, at dinner, or in a social group of some sort and we were talking with someone. However, you knew that even though they were answering your questions or even looking you in the eye, they were not present. They were there, but not there. Honestly, it is normally offensive. You feel devalued and unimportant. You know that aren’t really listening because they are captured something else. Maybe you can even relate to having been that person. I can. My mind was wandering to other things or I was distracted with other business going on.
We live in a time and season of history where we are overwhelmed with petty distractions as well as real difficulties. Everything wars for our attention. Depth requires time and effort. So many relationships today are casual acquaintances with no real depth, including marriages.
When we approach time with our Savior, we should bear this in mind. Whether it is 5 minutes in the car, an hour in church, or in a discussion about Him with others, we should remember to push aside the distractions and be present. The more we listen and focus the more we will see and hear. The more we are with Him, the more we will know Him, and the more we become like Him.
Look at the following passages:
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” – Matthew 4:19
Jesus says later that His mission is the seek and save that which is lost. So what Jesus is saying is that if we will follow Him we will become like Him. We will wind up doing what He is doing.
“While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” – Matthew 17:5
The Father shows up on the mountain as Jesus revealed His glory and speaks directly to the disciples regarding Jesus. The Father says, “This is my boy, you do what He says. He is the one you follow.” Get that. It’s not just a guy that looks like a regular man from Galilee that said follow me. The Father Himself shows up and makes sure they get it. Follow Jesus. Go where He goes, know His voice, don’t look for another, don’t get distracted or wander off. This event is accounted for in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
There are so many passages in the Old and New Testaments that affirm the necessity of listening intently.
One of the other issues of being present is affection. This isn’t about obligation or rules. In John 15:13 the scripture states, “Greater love has no one than this; to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” The word love there literally means “strong affection.” Jesus has strong affection for us and that is exemplified by His death on the cross for our sin. Romans 5:8 puts it this way, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” It was out of incredible, perfect and eternal affection that God works on our behalf. He paid the ultimate and final price to make it possible for us to come home and have intimacy with Him. Since He is our example, we need to set our affections on Him and let that drive us with a passion to be intimate with Him.
We must also remember that we filter. Sometimes we are unable to hear what is being said or we misunderstand because we are focused on ourselves in the moment. We show up with assumptions, fear, past hurts, and more from other people and circumstances and those things lead us to not be present. We are consumed with ourselves. Instead of listening for the heart, trusting God’s nature and what He has said about Himself, and what He has always done, we process every word with things like: “I don’t like that”, “That will hurt”, “What if it doesn’t work out?”, “How will I look?” We also project onto God our brokenness. We assume. I have had people do this to me. Because I am a pastor, a person in authority, people sometimes assume I don’t want to serve them or that I’m trying to control. They have a distrust. They will hear the first part of a sentence and wander off into reaction and assumption instead of asking what I mean or trusting my heart to love and serve them. We react from past pain, run away, or even lash out sometimes. What gets lost is relationship and intimacy. We need to come to Jesus and be wholly present for Him.
Today as walk with Jesus, set aside your agenda, fears, and even your pain. Just be present. Be there for Him and trust that He is good and He has set His affections on you. In that place intimacy is cultivated and you see Him more clearly.
In my next post, I will share some thoughts about the discipline of worship and the intimacy that is produced as we encounter Him there.