Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Present is Presence

Abram was an old, old man. God had promised him a great and wonderful family that would fill the earth. He promised him that he would not only be blessed, he would BE a blessing to everyone (Genesis 12:2,3). Now, as his eyes grew dim and his body grew stiff, he was wondering when or if God would fulfill His promises to him.

In Genesis chapter 15 God says something very profound to Abram. Maybe he caught it, maybe he didn't. "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward." While I would like to go on and on about God being our shield, I want to call your attention to the second phrase.

God is our reward. Our reward isn't what God can and will do for us. Our reward isn't found in the provision of God, but in His presence. He promises to walk with us, to live with us, and make a way for us to live with Him one day in a place where we can stay forever. Presence is our reward.

When a man and woman marry, they often don't understand this. My wife and I play with this and act like our wedding vows were much more complicated than they really were. I will look at the bowl of cereal in front of me and say something like, "Didn't you promise to love, honor, obey and make biscuits and gravy every morning?" She will assure me that wasn't in the vows. Later she might say to me, "Didn't you promise to love, honor, obey and make sure the grass doesn't get over knee high?"

This is a game for us, because we understand what our vows were.

Many enter marriage thinking of what they can get out of it. They think, "I can have more consistent sexual activity, brownies on the counter, a steady paycheck coming in..." etc. ad nauseum. These people are going to be very disappointed. You see, life happens and it changes things, including your mate.

The vows promise presence. The benefit I received in marrying Kami was: Kami. I get to be with Kami. That's it. And that's wonderful. She is complex, interesting, mysterious, changeable... an enigma in a pretty wrapper. THAT is my present.

I know this will upset the Prayer of Jabez people or the Prosperity Gospel folks, but the presence of God is my present. My only reward is that He will walk with me and not turn away when times get rough (see Psalm 139). When I don't get the job I want, when a monster walks into a school in Colorado or Pennsylvania and kills sweet little girls, when my health shudders and breaks, or when financial disaster closes in on me, I have my reward -- the presence of God. He didn't promise me endless provision. He isn't some cosmic vending machine to dispense treats on a regular basis. He is my reward because He is there with me and that is enough.

How would your life be happier and how much more content would we be if we didn't look for provision as a sign of love or acceptance? What if we just accepted His presence as our reward? Ahhhh. That feels better already!

10 Comments:

At 10/03/2006 12:30:00 PM , Anonymous John Telgren said...

Interesting. I don't know which translation you are reading from, mine doesn't read this way, so I wasn't aware that some have translations translate "your very great reward," rather than "your reward shall be very great" as my NASB does. I think the latter is a better translation of the Hebrew (the LXX translates it this way as well), but I don't want to detract from what I believe is a necessary focus in our faith. Eternal life is knowing God. The greatest command is to love God. Mother Teresea said that we were created for the purpose of loving God, and I believe that she is correct, but many of us have missed this. The Psalmist said, "the nearness of God is my good." Not physical comfort or prosperity, but living in the presence of God. Thank your for the insight.

 
At 10/03/2006 12:32:00 PM , Blogger That Girl said...

We talked about Hell one night in Bible class and as scared as I am of fire... it's not the fire that bothers me as much as God not being there. I love having him in my life. How hopeless not to have him as a reward.

 
At 10/03/2006 02:16:00 PM , Anonymous Christopher Gallagher (aka - Gallagher) said...

Patrick,

Great post. Your blog will fit into a sermon I am presenting about our the constant presence of God. I might call it, "The Ever Present Present."

Great thoughts!

 
At 10/04/2006 12:32:00 AM , Blogger Todd Mogilner said...

You always give me so much to think about. I want his presence. I shouldn't need anything else other than that. I need to understand that more.

 
At 10/04/2006 01:48:00 PM , Blogger Lorie said...

Wow. Thanks. I'm gonna link to this from my blog.

 
At 10/04/2006 11:15:00 PM , Anonymous TinaMarie said...

Wow! Our God is awesome. I just studied about how God desires to bless us. One way he wants to set us free from the bonds of sin. One of the many benefits/blessings is Enjoying God's Presence, being in love with God. Then I read the Blog. God is reaffirming that He is always there with his love regardless of the sin and other struggles in my life, He desires to heal us and lead us into a victorious life over Satan. We are in His Presence NOW!!!!

 
At 10/05/2006 08:24:00 PM , Anonymous wkotheimer@gmail.com said...

Well said.

Or, as David also wrote (Psalm 119:81)

"My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word."

 
At 10/05/2006 08:32:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

wkotheimer@gmail.com says:

Well said: or as David wrote in Psalm 119:81--

"My soul fainteth for thy salvation: I hope in thy word."

Even the "presence" of God sometimes isn't there. To what do we strive? To be charismatic? to feel? or do we times just seek "that peace that passes understanding?" If I had that, half the time, oh half the time, wow. Sometimes I just settle for the promise of it. Therefore, we step out on faith, knowing, we are imperfect, but God will meet us when we step out. One of these days I'll get a blog. Arrgh.

 
At 10/06/2006 08:47:00 AM , Blogger Royce Ogle said...

Thanks Patrick. As usual, right on.

We are never promised that we can avoid trouble when we become Christians. We are promised God's presence in our trouble. A furnace, a lions den, enemies on all sides, a kangaroo court, or a jail cell, all invite the believer to know the constant presence of God.

As for prosperity? God doesn't settle His books in December!

Grace and Peace,
Royce Ogle

 
At 10/18/2006 12:20:00 PM , Anonymous Peg Heredos said...

Yes, yes, the presence of God. How empty must be the life of an atheist/agnostic (or "freethinker" as they prefer to be called today), and how tormented must be the mind of one who is unable to meditate upon the richness of His glory, the power and ASSURANCE of His omnipresence, and our unearned privilege of going to Him in prayer at anytime day or night to offer our thanksgiving for His marvelous creations. It is this awesomeness of His grace, the gift He has freely bestowed upon us, the unconditional love, that totally blows me away! One verse sums it all up for me: "Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

 

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