Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” John 6: 26 & 27 (New King James Version)
God gives you a revelation when you least expect to receive one. One day, the Lord revealed to me that we want presents from God for our lives, but not the presence of God in our lives. Whoa!
I find that many of us in the “household of faith” want presents. We want God to load us up with goodies and toys like if he were Santa Claus. Look at our “health and wealth” prosperity “gospel” that’s rampant in American X-tianity. We want our base needs met: be it a fine car, big job, nice home, perfect spouse, big church to pastor, the list is endless. Just like the crowds in the above passage from John that were tracking Jesus down because of the loaves and fishes he fed them (this was after the feeding of the 5,000). We want God to give us lots and lots and lots. We even have nerve to try and hold God hostage with the Scriptures, you know, “You said in Your Word….”
Ah, but when it comes to the presence of God… (cue in sound of car brakes screeching). It’s a whole different story. We don’t want God’s presence in our lives. You see, when we have God’s presence, it becomes not what we want, but what He wants. God’s presence means that God’s going to get into our lives and mess with them. We may ask for the “goodies” in the previous paragraph, but God will turn around and have us working at a “just pay enough” job in the East Village to where we take public transportation from our flat in Co-op City. He’d also put you with a street mission in the South Bronx, ministering to the homeless while keeping you single.
However, it’s the presence of God that helps us grow up. If we just ask for the presents from God all the time, we become childish and selfish. We cave into our egos and live spiritually shallow lives. We’re no good to God or our fellow human beings. When we have the presence of God however, we become childlike in our trust of God. We get to see what we’re really about and learn to live integrally from the heart. We can serve both God and humanity. Plus, the presence of God helps us to take a good look at ourselves and discover the truth about us. Whereas, just getting presents from God keep us oblivious and distracted from what God wants us to see.
I’m not saying don’t ask God for our wants as well as our needs. We just need to make sure that we’re not so “stuff” focused that we forget the importance of God’s presence in our lives. For it’s His presence that’s the best present of all!