Living with someone requires enjoying his or her presence. Oddly, before we can enjoy God’s presence, we must first learn to live with Him. In the movie, Bruce Almighty, Jim Carrey (“Bruce” in the film) learns to live with God. The drama unfolds on a day in which Bruce is not promoted at work, is mugged while helping a victim, and wrecks his classic auto. In frustration with God, Bruce angrily throws away a charm bracelet gift, which prompts God to summon Bruce for a meeting.
Living with one’s parents is one of life’s biggest challenges, if we are fortunate enough to have the love of parents. It took me years to understand how to live with and enjoy the company of my parents. I’d give anything to have more time with my father, now deceased. Mama is hundreds of miles away, and I wish every day she were closer.
At Christmas, we enjoy the sharing of material presents with those we love. The economy this year prompts us to consider the more rewarding spiritual gifts of knowing and enjoying God’s presence.
In Matthew 14:22-27, Jesus, seeing the fear of His disciples as they encounter Him walking on water, says, “Take courage! It is I, don’t be afraid.” We learn that God doesn’t always prevent storms, but calms us in their midst, if we are willing to take comfort in His presence.
There are several ways in which we can demonstrate our enjoyment of God’s presence. First, we must show belief in Him when He speaks to us. Second, we must venerate Him and give Him glory. Third, we must trust in Him to satisfy our needs. Fourth, we must demonstrate that His power gives us peace and security.
It is clear that life’s greatest gift is the possibility of coming into God’s presence, deserved or not. In Matthew 14:28, we glimpse Peter’s character, his courage, his collapse, and his recovery, as Peter says,
“Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” ‘Come,’ He said.”
Through scripture, we learn that Peter is often impulsive, and suffers frustration and remorse. Yet in moments of failure, Peter doesn’t run away, but rather reaches out and clutches for Jesus. We do not have to wonder why Jesus called Peter “The Rock.” Peter was resilient, getting back up when he fell, his failures bringing him closer to Christ.
The winds and currents of our lives are often contrary to our hopes and dreams. We may struggle within ourselves and our circumstances, among sorrows and temptations, and as a result of impulsive decisions.
But life’s trials and drama combine in a dress rehearsal that determines where we will spend eternity. Are we going to spend it living with Satan moaning in Hell, or rejoicing, and enjoying the presence of God in Heaven?
We need not struggle alone in troubling waters, for Christ is reaching out, reminding us, “Don’t be afraid, take my hand, it is I.” In our unsteady boats, as our personal storms cease, we come to know that it is up to us to simply “Enjoy His Presence.”
The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door at 6001 NW 8th Ave., Miami. To contact the church, call 305-759-0373 or email the pastor at firstname.lastname@example.org.