The Gift of Presence
By Annah Matthews
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35 ESV
The past fall I hit a new milestone in my life. I sent my last child off to Kindergarten. For 13 years I have had a baby, toddler, or preschooler at home with me. Prior to having my first baby, I worked for 8 years with children, first as a social worker then as a special education teacher.
Caring for children has largely defined my life. It’s where God called me to be and it was the right decision for our family. Not everyone gets to have that choice and I am aware of this gift.
Naturally, everyone began to ask me, “What will you do ALL DAY now that your children are in school?” Let’s face it, they are only gone 7 hours a day and they are still at home 17 hours, but I do get it.
The enemy began to weave his lies in my thoughts that I began to think, “Well there it is. I’ve sent my last kid to school, I guess I am not needed as much anymore.”
I had an honest conversation with God about what to do with myself in this new season of life. While I can fill my days with endless volunteer duties or part time work, it wasn’t what God was calling me to do. His answer, “I still need you right there at home, but I need you to be available.”
He began to show me ways I needed to be available to those around me and ways to love my neighbors and my community even more now than before.
The gift of your presence speaks volumes to those around you. Scripture tells us that one of the hallmarks of Christianity is how you love others.
My neighbor’s son was in a pretty bad car accident, so I called her and asked what I could do. “Could you just come sit with him so I could run home to shower and change clothes?”
He and I had a great afternoon together in the hospital room talking, resting, and praying. Over and over she told me, “Just you being here means the world to my family.”
A single mom friend of mine was struggling with some issues and needed wisdom and encouragement. I was able to take her to lunch and we spent two hours talking and wrapping our time in prayer as I intervened on her behalf. Her text later that afternoon, “Thank you for being available to sit and listen.”
My next door neighbor was diagnosed with breast cancer a month ago. She doesn’t have any of her own children, but she has become a loving figure to my children. I made myself available to take her to appointments, if needed, and we sat together over coffee one morning as I listened to her talk through next steps.
God has so many opportunities for us bless others with the gift of our presence if we will slow down, unpack our schedule just a little, and ask Him for specific ways to love others by being available. Yes, I am enjoying a quiet house a few more hours during the day now but I am especially enjoying the opportunities God presents to me almost every week to love someone by being available.
I don’t know what season of life you are in today, but I do know that His command from Matthew 22:36-39 rings true no matter where you find yourself.
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” ESV
After all, one of the easiest ways to show others that you are a Christ-follower, by simply just showing up and loving one another.
Heavenly Father, Make us aware of ways that we can show a fraction of Your Love to others. Help us to be aware of ways that we can say no to some good things so that we can say yes to the right things. Help us to prioritize and organize our schedules in a way that leaves room for availability. Remind us that loving others sometimes takes a little extra time and give us the joy of experiencing true fellowship with those in our community as we learn to love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
© 2019 by Annah Matthews. All rights reserved.
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Originally published Wednesday, 12 January 2022.