The power of presence

My wife and I recently returned from a trip to Hawaii to see our son, who serves in the U.S. Marine Corps, and his wife. We also saw our daughter, who traveled ahead of us to spend a few extra weeks with her brother after finishing her junior year of college in Oregon. 

While in Hawaii, we saw many of the sights popular with tourists. We visited Pearl Harbor, ate fresh pineapple at the Dole Plantation, and of course, swam in the crystal-clear waters of the Pacific Ocean. It was a trip we’ll never forget.

Despite all the beauty we saw and experienced, our most cherished memories from the trip were made not on sun-bleached beaches or standing in the shadows of giant battleships, but sitting at a kitchen table laughing until we cried playing Uno and battling it out on the pickleball court late into the warm, breezy Hawaiian nights. 

In the weeks leading up to the trip, I began to catch myself daydreaming about hugging my kids. We hadn’t seen our daughter since Christmas break and it had been almost a year since we’d seen our son and daughter-in-law. To have all our adult kids together—to be in one another’s presence—that was the real treat.

Now hold that thought for a moment …

While it may not get name-checked as one of the most important spiritual disciplines, I’m more convinced now than ever before that seeking the manifest presence of our Lord is, in fact, the most important thing I can do as a believer. Sometimes I can be so structured in my faith, with my Bible reading plans and extrabiblical study aides and prayer lists, that I forget that what my Father really wants is for me to spend time by His side and bask in the glory of His presence. 

"I know the depth of love I feel for my children. How much more then must my God, who loves with a perfect love, feel about me as His child?"

How do I know that? Well, the Bible tells me so. But I also feel it in the deepest parts of me, where God has planted in my heart a desire to be in an eternal relationship with Him. And when He blessed me to be a father, He allowed me to experience just a touch of how He feels about me as a son. I know the depth of love I feel for my children. How much more then must my God, who loves with a perfect love, feel about me as His child?

I want the best for my children. I don’t want them to struggle. I want them to be successful in whatever the Lord leads them to do. But more than anything, I want to be in a constant, intimate relationship with them. I want them to reach out to me when they’re troubled. I want them to call me so I can celebrate their victories with them. And sometimes, I just want to sit with them, quiet and still with no particular agenda. I want to enjoy being in their presence, and I want them to enjoy being in mine. 

The same goes when it comes to our Father in heaven. That’s what He wants with us. May we never forget that.

May I never forget that.

Digital Editor
Jayson Larson
Southern Baptist Texan
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