We can easily get caught up in the mess we’ve made of things in the past or the allusions of grandeur we predict for the future, but living in the present moment, being aware of Christ’s presence and being present to others is what Christ did and calls us to imitate.There are a number of children’s books in which the main character tries to get the attention, approval, and/or affection of his or her parents. Some of the antics are amusing and others mischievous. Often the stories end with a happily-ever-after scenario in which the mom or dad recognizes their child’s need for their undivided attention and gives them that quality time he or she has been craving.
While in the midst of extreme physical, emotional, and/or spiritual pain, it can be hardest to believe and sense that Christ is with us right then and there. Sure, we can picture Jesus with us on the days when we’re acutely aware of His blessings in our lives. What about those days when we don’t feel His hand on our shoulders? What about the moments when we feel completely abandoned when we need Him most?
The Lord tells us that even then He is with us. When our thoughts and/or feelings make it difficult to experience that we are always with God, He reminds us that He never leaves us. That doesn’t mean we won’t feel alone or sometimes test to see how close He really is when we cry out for help. Fortunately He remains faithful and is present regardless of how many doubts and questions assail us, regardless of how weak our faith is at times, or how sinful our nature.
Oftentimes God will work through the people in our lives to show us His love, mercy, forgiveness, and be present to us. An amusing practice my sister started years ago serves as a wonderful reminder of this. When she was little my youngest sister Theresa would say bedtime prayers with my mom every night, then she’d ask my mom, “Are you going anywhere? Will you go to sleep after me?” She wanted to know that my mom would be just down the hall if she needed her. As an added measure, Theresa used to call out from her bedroom each night to my mom, “Love you, goodnight!” and wait for my mom to respond with “Love you, goodnight!” This exchange would often be repeated for several minutes, depending on how long it took Theresa to fall asleep, and how long my mom was willing to play the game that particular evening.
We can grow in a deeper awareness that today we are with God. Unlike our parents and other loved ones, He never slumbers or sleeps. He’s never semi-conscious down the hall or out for the evening. He’s the Daddy, the Beloved Brother, the Best Friend, who wants us with Him wherever He goes. We often fear losing someone or something dear to us, but God’s presence and commitment to remain with us never changes. He is true to each of His children when He says, “Today, you are with Me.”