Last time you heard from me I was talking about patience (see “PATIENCE”). I have decided that my second word of the year is Presence.
So I wrote this whole blog post on presence a few weeks ago…and then I realized that I am terrible at presence. I am really not good at it. The Lord has really been laying it on my heart just how much I need to work on this aspect of my life. So this is me rewriting that post to be honest about where I am at and where I need to be.
First patience, then presence.
I think I really tricked myself into believing that I am being fully present where I am when I’m actually not. I’ve talked about before how I feel called to two places and how that is a constant struggle in my life, but I thought I had been doing a good job at being fully present in both places. But I just realized today that I may not have been doing a good job at all. When I’m in one place, I am thinking about the other, and vice versa. I can’t seem to completely focus in the place I’m in with the people that I’m with because I’m constantly thinking about how I need to be present in the other place. And I know that sounds crazy, like how is it that I can be so torn, and to be honest I have no idea. I do not have an answer. But I do know that I’m not really handling this the right way.
God calls us to be fully present right where he places us at the exact moment that He calls us. This is something I have known for a long time and this is something that I preach over and over again to people that come to me for advice. But I just realized today that in order to be fully present in a place and with people, your heart and mind have to be aligned and all-in. Let me explain what I mean.
When I’m in Oxford, I’m thinking about how I’m doing a poor job of investing in Birmingham. But when I’m in Birmingham, I’m thinking about how I need to be investing in Oxford. And in neither place am I truly 100% making sure that my heart is ready to actually invest while I’m there. Bottom line? I spend so much time thinking about how I need to be present and not enough time actually acting on it.
But that’s going to change. And it already is starting to. This past week alone I have really challenged myself to reach out to my friends and to be there for my people and to be fully immersed in the moment while I’m in it, instead of thinking a future moments that I will be in.
And this may not be a challenge for you. But for me, I’m always thinking about the future, which can be a good and a bad thing. It’s good because I have an end goal—I know where I want to go (most of the time) and I have an idea of how I’m going to get there. But it’s also a really bad thing, because it means that I have a lot harder time being present in this moment because I’m constantly thinking about what the next moment holds.
God calls us to be present, not comfortable. He does not always guarantee your happiness. He does not always guarantee success. But He does guarantee that He will be present with us.
God is the perfect example of presence. From the beginning of time He has been walking with His people (Genesis 28:15).
He is walking with you and I. That just amazes me. Let me say that again. God is ALWAYS present with us. So if He is always present with us, why can’t we always be present with other people?
Another thing about presence. It isn’t always easy because we are all constantly in different stages in life. Like for me, I’m in college (which is partially why I have the two location problem). Being college students, we’re constantly pushed to think about the future—our future careers, our future relationships, our future potential, you get the idea. Through all of this confusing future talk, it’s really hard to remember that we are exactly where we’re supposed to be at this present moment, and that in this moment we have to be present, because that’s what God calls us to do.
He doesn’t call us to constantly be worrying about the future (Matthew 6:25-34). He doesn’t call us to constantly be concerning ourselves with what career we may or may not have. He doesn’t call us to be concerned about what doors he will and will not open. But He does call us to be patient in the waiting and present in the in-between.
We can’t control our destiny. Only God can do that. Only He knows where He’s taking us and how we’re going to get there. But what we can control is what we do right now, in the moment and the exact place that God has placed us. And that’s exactly what He asked of us.
Also, there’s a certain beauty to being stuck.
There’s a certain beauty to being “stuck” in a certain part of life, and not knowing how to get out or where to go from here. I say that because it’s in these moments that we have the opportunity to witness God’s faithfulness unfold before us. It’s in these moments that we have a chance to just sit back and Focus on being present and awaiting God’s next move. Like I said, there’s a certain beauty to it.
We need these moments for clarity, but we also need them to remind ourselves of why we are where we are in the first place, and that’s because for one reason or another it’s where we’ve been called. And in-between moments remind us of that.
Stop dwelling on the fact that you’re in an in-between moment and start thinking about what you can do with it.
I know with all my heart that God has placed me where I am—in both places—and that he wants me to do His will in these places. I may not know where I’m going, I may not have any idea what my future career is, I may not even know what classes I’m going to take next semester, but I do know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be at this moment in time, and that is enough for me right now. It’s my prayer that that’s enough for you too.
So what does all of this have to do with me, Meagan, and how can I go about trying to be present??
A guest speaker at my church spoke this truth to us a few weeks ago:
Our greatest accomplishment in life will not be what we achieve, it will be who we influence.
Let’s sit on that a second.
It’s not about the What in life–it’s about The Who in life.
I have clearly been challenged in many ways with presence, but I am going to articulate four different ways that you and I are challenged to be present:
First, to be present in the location I am [we are] right now. Second, to be present with the people I’m with [we’re with] right now. Third, to be present with the gifts that God has given me [given us]. And finally, to allow God to be present to others through me [through us].
Let me unpack those for a minute.
First, to be present in the location I am [we are] right now.
The first part of presence is physical location. It is vital for us to be present where we are physically located. I have recently discovered I have been called to two different physical locations–which I first thought was going to be an extremely difficult thing, but then I realized how powerful a thing it is to be called to many places. It’s a special thing, but it’s also a big responsibility. God has placed a huge responsibility on each of us to be present where he has physically placed us. It’s my prayer that I be present here AND there, wherever I’m called, because that’s what God is asking of you and me.
Second, to be present with the people I’m with [we’re with] right now.
This one really gets me. I feel personally convicted about this. I have the awesome privilege of having two physical locations–two homes, if you will–and that means I have twice the amount of people to be present with.
This one can be hard though. Sometimes I think it’s easier to be present physically than it is to be present with people. Let me put it this way: Have you ever been in a conversation but not Involved in a conversation? Or have you ever been in a circle of people but not actively interacting with those people? It is SO easy to be physically present but not emotionally present, and if you’re not emotionally present then it is almost impossible to be emotionally involved.
God calls us to support one another. We are called to support other believers. We are called to support our family, our friends, our neighbors. But how are we to do that if we are not emotionally present?? There is no substitute for presence with people around us.
Third, to be present with the gifts that God has given me [given us].
This is easier said than done. We all like to think we are doing “everything for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31) but is that really true? Are we Actively seeking out ways to use what God has gifted us with for His glory? And if you can answer yes to that one, are you doing things for His glory and not your own? We often get to this place where there’s an Emphasis on the doing and not the being.
Finally, to allow God to be present to others through me [through us].
“Who are you going to influence, and How are you going to influence them?” It’s my prayer that I first have the faith that He will open a door for me to influence people and then that I have the courage to walk through it when it appears.
We all have experiences that we can share with others. We have seen God’s hand in our lives in different ways, and sharing that knowledge can be a greater influence to those around us than we know. To summarize, use your resources. Take what gifts God has given you and use it to influence good for others.
As always, I have a song to share with you that really speaks into these truths. Songs always seem to find me when I need them, and this one especially spoke to me and has continued to teach me things this week.
When my hands stretch out towards the sky
You never let me run dry
When I dive into the depths of You
My heart is made anew
Jesus in You
Your love is a flood
And I’m caught in the current of Your living waters
It’s Your love
It’s Your love
Your presence is a flood
And I’m caught in the wonder
You have taken me over
You have won my heart
Into the deep
I will go with You
Submerge my feet to my head in all of You
As your presence falls
I am drowned in Your love
Immerse me, immerse me
Into the Deep, Citipointe Live
All we can ask is that God immerse us in His presence and allow us opportunities to surround others with our presence.
He is Sovereign, He is here, He is walking with us. God is present with us, and He calls us to be present too. Will you respond to that challenge today?