Presents vs Presence

I have had a bit of an addiction for those occasions that warrant the giving of gifts. There were years when I spent over my “budget” to buy the “perfect” gift for someone. My own lists were long, and I confess that I spent a lot of time obsessing if I would get what was on those lists. If I didn’t, I would take up a lot of time feeling sorry for myself, and feeling resentful toward those that hadn’t lived up to my expectations. Needless to say, Christmas and birthdays weren’t really a joyful time. I can’t say that I really spent much time thinking about the true meaning of what was being celebrated. It was all about things…what I could give, and what I could get.

But I wasn’t ready for what happened this Christmas. I had brought a couple gifts over from home….something little for the boys. I stressed over how little it was, and why I couldn’t get them something else as well. I didn’t even have wrapping paper! So unprepared. Or so I thought. Then something shifted. There was an “aha” moment. And the biggest gift I received this year was seeing how material possesssions mattered not at all to my family. They were happy with whatever they had, and the need I had to provide a mountain of gifts died away.

They were my gift. Their attitude was healing. I realized that there really wasn’t a need to buy their love and happiness…it was there all along. Every day is a gift. Being able to give them attention, and providing for everyday needs is a gift. Getting hugs and having long conversations…these are gifts. Being in their presence is enough.

I think the same can be said for a relationship with Jesus. We want gifts from Him, and we think that we should be giving them also…to somehow buy His love. We ask for stuff. We get a bit sulky when other people get something we wanted…and we blame Him for our misery. We measure love and acceptance with material goods. In reality, our relationship with Him can be based on so much selfishness and greed. And all He wants is our worship and praise. He wants to be in our presence. When we stop looking at our relationships from an earthly perspective, and see the spiritual, there is a new meaning to the word “present”. A present is not a physical thing…it is being present, being alive and focused. Seeing the real meaning of life.

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11 NIV)

There is joy in being present, and being in the presence. I hope and pray that this is a lesson that sticks with me. Each day I want to experience the present of His presence. I believe that this is the new beginning. All those occassions, where I thought the material was what mattered, will become a time of joy again.