Originally created 08/31/02

Learn to give God, others the gift of presence



Someone said that well over half of the requirement for completing a task is simply showing up. There is much to be said for the gift of presence. Perhaps you remember hearing the roll called in school as a child. The teacher would call your name and you would answer, "Present." Showing up for school was the first work of the day.

The same is true for almost any aspect of life. Husbands and wives would be wise to heed the call to be present to each other. When couples are present to each other - the simple gift of being together - life's difficulties are halved and life's joys are multiplied. The experience of eating a meal together as a family is one of those "present" realities more than a few families ignore these days. What with evening lessons for the children and late office hours for mom or dad, where's the time to prepare a meal, much less eat the meal prepared together?

I've discovered that church works much better when the members are present. It's one thing to have your name on the roll of the church. It's another to be present in worship, present in small-group Bible study, present to your brothers and sisters in faith with whom you share the Christian journey. So often, simple presence is the needed thing.

Come to think about it, this "presence principle" is at the heart of the Christain message. God loved the world so much, God became present in Jesus of Nazareth in a profound and unrepeatable way. In fact, Christians believe God became human in Jesus Christ. Through our Lord's life, we see the very face of God; a face full of compassion and mercy, grace and acceptance. Through our Lord's hands, we experience the healing touch of God, through his smile, the loving affirmation of God, through his word, the spoken truth of God.

When you think about it even more, if God thought real presence was that important, perhaps we might consider showing up more often for others.

As the new school year begins, I invite you to consider with me the power of presence. What children need more than anything else is a present dad and mom. What husbands and wives need most is a present mate. What employers require is a present worker. What our beloved Augusta needs is citizens present, engaged, involved in our common life.

Well over half of the needed energy, imagination, work, even joy of any experience in life is found in simply showing up. Show up with your family, show up to your mate, show up for church, show up for some community effort that needs your leadership. Just show up and notice what God can do when we offer to God and others the gift of presence.

Dr. Timothy L. Owings is pastor of First Baptist Church of Augusta.