Sitting on the plane next to my son I saw a quick glance of embracing life. A glimpse of what it means to be fully engaged in the moment. I saw what it looks like to be fully present with what is going on. I watched my five year-old son close the cover of the iPad, take off his headphones, and look out the window of the plane. He was captured by the moment of beauty that can only be seen at 30,000 feet, he was captured by the majesty of creation. He was practicing the power of being fully present. The images of a screen did not replace for him the artistry and the wonder that looking out his window offered.
Too often I think we approach living out faith in a similar fashion to the boy who doesn’t take off the head phones and doesn’t look out the window. We can get so wrapped up in knowing the right things in faith, or wrapped up in our own lives that we are unable to be present in the world around us. Far too often we are probably guilty of being unaware of our need to be present with others.
There are all kinds of things that prevent us from being present with one another. The practice of presence is not an easy one. For many of us, busyness, our smartphone (I can be guilty of this), television, social media, or any number of other things can prevent us from being present with each other.
The practice of presence is one that needs to be practiced not just with friends or family, but the practice of presence needs to be practiced with God. God is present wherever we are, but rarely do we take the time to reflect on the power of His presence. Rarely do we take the time to be fully engaged in the moment and find ourselves in conversation with God. Rarely do we find ourselves meditating on the words of Jesus, or on the power of the Holy Spirit.
The reality is that God desires for us to practice presence with Him. He wants us to be fully engaged with Him so that we can be fully engaged with others. He wants us to express love in tangible ways. Presence is opening ourselves up in authentic, vulnerable, real ways to people. Presence with others and with God is action. Presence is not centered upon the right theology (that helps), presence isn’t centered on correct doctrine (that matters), but presence is centered on being fully engaged in the moment.
Presence is practiced and seen when we are in conversation with one another. Presence is lived out when we sit silently with a friend as they grieve loss. Presence is displayed by celebrating joys and triumphs and being fully engaged in that moment. Presence is loving action and loving silence. Presence is being there, wherever there is, and not trying to be somewhere else.
Who knows, maybe I am thinking about this because I was reading a book called “Love Does” and thinking about the church’s call to action, not just right believing. Who knows, maybe I am writing this because I can get lost in theology and study and miss the practical application. Who knows, maybe this is just because I felt convicted watching my 5 year-old son practice presence in a way that I knew was one of those divine moments. What I know is this, for us to be more and more committed to following Jesus, it will take us more and more practicing presence.