Presence is Better than Presents

Presence is Better than Presents

“Did you get the presents for my birthday yet?”  Even before, “Hello” or “Good Morning,” this is the question with which my youngest child greeted me moments after springing from her bed earlier this week.  Never missing an opportunity to meet audacious questions with silly answers, my response was, “You always have my presence!”  “Dad!” she replied in confused tone, “You know what I mean!”  After a few minutes of circular exchange, I said simply, “Sweetheart, presence is always better than presents.” 

For the record, of course we got presents for our child’s birthday, but as I’ve reflected on this playful conversation this week, I’m struck by how often I have the heart of a soon-to-be six-year-old child, as I think about and communicate with God in prayer. 

Like a child, I see past the presence of the one who is with me, and I look more to the presents I have and even more-so to the presents I want from His hand.  After all, James 1:17 reminds us that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…”  We have a God who delights to give good and perfect gifts to His children, yet there is no better gift than His presence in our lives!

Throughout the Bible, God’s children are encouraged with the promise of the present of His presence.  Here is a sampling of these promises:

  • We’re bestowed with strength and courage in the midst of difficulty, because of his presence (Joshua 1:9)
  • We’re assured that we are never alone, because not matter where we go, He is there (Psalm 139:8)
  • We’re given the fullness of joy and pleasures that will never fade, because He draws us near (Psalm 16:11)
  • We’re emboldened on mission, because Jesus is always with us to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20)
  • We’re reminded of our status as children of God, as the Holy Spirit bears witness to our souls (Romans 8:16)
  • We’re made more like Jesus, one-degree-of-glory at a time, as we’re set free to turn away from our sin and turn toward Him (2 Corinthians 3:16-18)
  • We’re able to live lives of contentment regardless of circumstance, because God will never abandon His people (Hebrews 13:5)
  • We’re moved from fear to love, as we abide the God who abides in us by His Spirit (1John 4:16-18)
  • And come what may, we have hope, because one day every tear, every source of sadness, every pain, every feeling of loneliness, and every sin that entangles will be swallowed up and cast away as God makes His Home with us! (Revelation 21:3-4)

Why is this so?  Because God’s greatest present to His people came in the gift of His Son who experienced the absence of the presence of his Father for the first and only time on the cross, crying out, “My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?”  Jesus, in that moment experienced what it was like to lose the presence of God in order that you and I could have the present of His presence restored in our lives, now and forever! 

His presence is truly better than His presents!