Monday, October 13, 2014

The Power of Presence

But there is perhaps one very important thing we must always remember about the God who IS, and that is this: that God IS here.

We must be more satisfied by the presence of God in our life than by the power of Him in it.

Let's go back to the blind man. Suppose he comes to Jesus and asks for healing, and suppose Jesus heals him. Not hard to suppose; we know it has happened. If that blind man walks away seeing and knowing only the power of Jesus, then God is always going to have to be powerful for him. He's going to keep looking for the healing God. He's going to keep needing the miraculous God. He's going to keep wanting the big, awesome, incredible things of God.

That's a hard God to maintain. I mean, God has already healed your crippling infirmity. Where, exactly, does He go from here? What is more powerful than giving sight to the blind? How many times can He "top" that, or even match it, and therefore keep showing His power in any sufficient way?

And it is here that I think I love the story of the blind man. For this very reason. Because the first thing the blind man sees when Jesus opens his the God who sees him. I don't think you can ever get that image out of your mind. I don't think you can ever forget what it's like to see the compassion, the tenderness, the mercy, the grace, the love of Jesus looking back at you. It's what we who are sighted so often forget to see.

You see, we're too busy looking at the miracles. We're too busy looking at the naked demon-possessed man sitting clothed and in his right mind. We're looking at disciples who keep passing out bread and fish until there's still more than enough. We're looking at a dirty, unclean woman who has pushed her way through the crowd to touch him. We're looking at a blind man and seeing his face as he sees the face of God for the first time. But we're so rarely looking at the face of God.

That's where the story is. That's how we know, that's how we remember. That's how we draw close to God and stop putting unrealistic expectations on Him. When you see the face of God as He beholds you, it's not about power any more. You don't need God to heal you again and again and again. You don't need God to keep doing bigger and bigger things. What you need is for Him to keep seeing you like that. You need Him to keep showing up, to keep looking you in the eye, to keep seeing you, whether you're a blind man or a beggar or a sinner or a saint or a bleeding woman or a broken man or whoever you are. All you long for in your heart is this God, this God who dares to look at you with all the compassion, tenderness, mercy, grace, and love inside of Him. All of these things that are His very essence.

It's not about power. It's about presence. You don't need God to do for you any more; you only long for Him to be. And one thing is for sure: He IS.

It's tempting sometimes to talk about all the things God does for us. It's tempting to post them on social media and turn them into dinner conversation and make memes and send email blasts and get excited and love God all over again because of something He's done. It's tempting to say things like, "God is so good! He _____" fill in the blank. But the more we do that, the easier it is to forget that we don't need that second sentence. God IS so good. Period. And if He never did anything but continue to show up, He'd still be so good. If we never saw another measure of His power, His presence would assure us He is still so good. 

So personally, and maybe this is something you could take up in your life, I try not to say things like this any more. I try not to equate God's goodness with His power because that's not the relationship I want with Him. I thank Him for His goodness and I thank Him for His gifts and I thank Him for the way He uses His power in my life, but I settle in, celebrate, and center on His presence. The fact that God was there at all today. The feeling that I have that I am overwhelmed by Him, that He's so much bigger than me, that my very little thing is wrapped up in His awesomely big thing just because He's here. I look at whatever He's doing in my life, and I'm grateful.

But I remember to look back at Him, too. Because the eyes of God as He beholds me fill me with so much more than thanks. The presence of God gives me more than the power of Him ever could. 

I think it's love. I really think it's love.

I don't need God to do one more thing for me. Just keep looking at me like that...

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