It’s engraved in bronze, hanging on my wall, a quote by that famous theologian (and yes, friend, tongue in cheek here), Carl Jung: Bidden or Not Bidden, God is Present. The weekend I was ordained, ten years ago this All Saints, my mother rescued it from a small bookstore in Saugatuck, wrapped it in tissue paper and offered me more than a nice saying, it has become a treasure map.
Bidden or Not Bidden, God is Present.
It’s the wisest and most world-changing statement Jung uttered.
Christ is present.
Christ, the Creator and ReCreator, Life Recycler and Story Redeemer is present, Friends, with us, here, now.
Christ the Wave Calmer, the Peace Provider, the Water Walker and the Wisdom- Gifter is here closer than our next breath… now.
Christ, the Truth Bearer, the Word incarnate, the Sin Healer and the Power-Wielder is present, with me, with you, in our very messy human lives.
Christ, the Savior of the world, yes that one…yup, He’s present, here in my red-couch living room, in your brown leather living room, now.
We don’t have to search for another hem to touch and no, we don’t ever have to beg Him to come. He has promised to be here, now.
I will never leave you or forsake you (Matthew 28:20b ). Those were the words He said last, the words He left echoing in the ears of every Christian down through the century.
The Alpha and the Omega, the Grave-Stomper, Dead raiser, Victory-Gatherer is here with you, now.
The Teacher and the World-Crafter, the Star-Slinger and the red eyed frog Inventer is here present.
The People-lover, the Prison Door Opener, the Sin-Sickness Redeemer, the third and fourth and fifth (and infinity) chance Giver.
The Wisdom of the Ages? Present.
The One who held a child’s limp hand and whispered, “Wake up” and the One whose voice reverberated into the tomb of his dead friend, “Lazarus, Come Out!” Yes, that’s the same One. He is there in your white-comforter covered bedroom, present in your ivy wallpaper kitchen as you stir the soup, sitting with you in Starbucks, walking with you down crooked sidewalks, pushing that double stroller.
The One who says, come as you are, who unfailingly loves, who always remembers that we are dust.
Yes, friend, you are never alone, the World-Maker, Story-reworker walks with you.
This changes everything.
It changes the way we make decisions, think about willpower, hold onto worry, grasp sumo-like egos.
It changes everything!
How we worship, hoping the praise penetrates the ceiling….
how we open our hearts to the unhealed other…the very Present One is our strong security and He’s not going anywhere…
how we pray for healing…not begging for His involvement but bringing our friend on a stretcher to the Present Teacher.
It changes the way we love people, walking into every relationship struggle with HIM. We no longer have to fix everything because the Mender of brokenness is HERE and does a much better job than we ever could!
And Christ present absolutely transforms the way we open that Bible, the way we listen, the way we meditate. If the Author is present, we come to the text differently. If the Divine Author is sitting across the table, we listen attentively, we open our hearts more profoundly, we expect wisdom to drip from every word. We expect Word-crafted heart-changing transformation…every time.
We come to the text with the Author and remember that He is the main character of our lives and we, the supporting Jesus-followers. We lay aside our thought that the text is ancient comforting self-help, and instead, sidle straight up to the Helper. We come to the text for Bread, for Communion, for relationship and come away changed, because we have seen the face of God and yes, we truly LIVE.
Most of all, we approach the Scriptures with a desire to be present to the One telling the great Story, the One whom the Story is about. We begin to read less for information though entering the text with wisdom is of course essential, we read to be present to the Word made Flesh. We were made for Communion and not just the kind with the shot glasses of grape juice and little crackers. We were made for Union with Christ, the kind the apostle John understood with all that talk of abiding. I abide with you and you abide with me and apart from Him, we can do nothing.
You know that feeling when your friend or spouse is checking out their phone during a special dinner. They are present but you, but no, not really. That’s never how it is with our Jesus. Christ is always, fully present, fully honed in, fully HERE. This is the key to our transformation, our security, our healing, our Becoming, our joy.
“For what we need to know, of course, is not just that God exists, not just that beyond the steely brightness of the stars there is a cosmic intelligence of some kind that keeps the whole show going, but that there is a God right here in the thick of our day-by-day lives who may not be writing messages about himself in the stars but in one way or another is trying to get messages through our blindness as we move around down here knee-deep in the fragrant muck and misery and marvel of the world. It is not objective proof of God’s existence that we want but the experience of God’s presence. That is the miracle we are really after, and that is also, I think, the miracle that we really get.”
-Originally published in The Magnificent Defeat, Frederick Buechner
And back to sleeping with bread? When we tuck in with Bread, with Word, with Truth, we tuck in with God Present. We can never again meditate on, roll around in our mouth a text without knowing that the Author is present, hand-feeding us Himself.
Listen to the text today with a new awareness of Christ present. Ask for open ears to hear, open mind to understand. Is it possible that we usually walk around with spiritual cotton balls in our ears? Ask for a phrase or verse and then take it to bed with you before exhaustion takes over. Take deep breaths and mull it over and over in your mind. Tuck in with Bread, here, present.
And you friend, where has the Word present been transforming you?
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Linking with the amazing storyteller Jennifer Dukes Lee here today: