His Presence in Your Plans

Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

Well, as of this week it’s official. Our first Christmas season in Bethlehem, PA is a wrap.

Sure, most Christmas celebrations ended more than two weeks ago and we’re well over a week into the New Year. The holiday vibe that once pulsated through malls and restaurants is now still and silent. But around our house, this week seems to mark the true return to normal.

Yesterday I placed our naked, brittle Christmas tree by the curb to be recycled. The nativity sets and garland and window candles had already been boxed up and hauled to the attic, but something about getting the tree out of the house and dragging it away to become mulch gave a sense of finality to the season.

The most conclusive end to our Christmas, however, happened over the weekend. On Saturday we took our son to the airport to return to school. We watched him pack the night before, his mom making sure that he went back with clean clothes. We pulled up in front of the airport, traded tight hugs and farewells, and now here we are. This may be the post-holiday reality that we feel the most.

Parting company with those we love after the holidays can sometimes be a relief. But just as often we feel a sadness, a stab of longing. We know in some deep place that the greatest gift of the season is being together, even when our togetherness is not perfect. I guess you could say we treasure presence above presents.

Your Calendar and Your Calling

Sending our son back to school in North Carolina didn’t change our relationship with him. We are still his parents. We still provide for his needs. We still have some expectations of him and we hold him accountable. We still talk (and text) with him to find out how his day is going or what his classes are like or what he has planned for a weekend.

All of that is well and good, but none of those things can substitute for being with him. For a few weeks we were able to actively participate in his life and he in ours. We didn’t simply hear about what he was doing, we actually did things together. Had our son caught a plane to a South American jungle or a North African desert, he would not stop being our son. That’s a reality that geography can’t touch. But there’s a difference between being a member of the family and being present in the home.

And there is a difference between believing that God exists, and living every day in God’s presence. Plenty of people are willing to say there is a God. Plenty of those will affirm a personal faith in the God of the Bible. Fewer people, it seems, live every day as if God is present with them. Perhaps fewer still see God actively present and at work in the world they inhabit. They don’t see their weekly calendar as a way of entering into what God is already doing.

Two Core Convictions

In his book, Faithful Presence, David Fitch writes, “God becomes visibly present through a people who make his presence known” (p. 28). In the weeks ahead we’ll be thinking about God’s presence in the world and what that means for us and how we live our ordinary days.

Our reflections are grounded in a couple of core convictions. First, God is present and actively at work in the places where you spend your waking and working hours. That means your school, your office, your home, your neighborhood. God desires to be known in all of those places. Second, God makes his presence known through a people who know him and belong to him.

Our aim in these reflections is likewise twofold. In the days ahead we want to enter more fully into God’s presence in our world, and we want to be a part of making that presence known in the places where we live our days.

Where will you be today? Who will you see? What do you have planned? And how would the day change if you knew God was with you in all of it – not just ‘around’ but truly ‘present’? God has something to do in the places where you live your life, and his way of doing it is through you.


Ever present God, we want to live this day with you. We want to be the kind of people who live moment by moment in your presence, making your presence known to the world around us. Use us in the familiar places of our life, and bring us into the work that you are already doing, we ask in Jesus’s name. Amen.

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