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!