Summary: In this stand-alone message, an introduction to the new series Love Without Limits, Dave explains the power of simply being present to God.
Being with God
Wildwind Community Church
December 27, 2009
Remember dating when you were a teenager? Yes, let's talk about that horrifically awful time. All the awkwardness, the constant self-analysis, always asking yourself if you're doing okay, saying the right thing, not eating too much (girls), not being too insensitive, but not being too emotional (guys), not moving too fast or too slow, playing it just the right amount of cool, wearing the right clothes, leaving a good impression. Girls, you end up thinking, "Is he going to call me again?" Guys, you think, "Does she want me to call her?" I mean, there you are at the LEAST confident time of your life, your tender identity just beginning to blossom on the vine, and you have to put yourself out there, take big risks, be totally out there exposed and vulnerable. That is a painful time, isn't it?
Fast forward to the last time you took a long trip with your significant other. Was there a lot of self-analysis? Were you self-conscious? Were you constantly watching what you said and did, monitoring every single behavior, worried about whether or not you should grab his/her hand, worried about what outfit you had on that day? Now I realize established relationships could often benefit from more attention to these basic things, but let's face it -- one of the things we love about an established, healthy relationship is that we don't have to live in constant insecurity and monitor our every word, thought, and action. There is a comfort. Heck, I'll bet on that last long trip, you even had very, very long periods of complete silence, didn't you? (Some of you WISH you did!)
Can you imagine doing that on a date as a teenager? Heck no! You feel this need to fill up every moment with talk -- and not only talk, but fantastic, hilarious, warm-hearted, deep, sympathetic, compassionate, brilliant, amusing, engaging, and highly intelligent talk, if at all possible. It has to be there, and it has to be good! But what happens when you get to know somebody and most of the stories have been told? What happens when you can no longer be all of those amazing things, because someone knows you deeper than that? What happens when someone has seen you explode in anger because you lost your car keys, or throw a fit because the house was messy, or act toward your kids in ways they know you are ashamed of? What happens when there is nowhere to hide anymore and someone is with you all the time and knows and sees all?
If somebody would have been able to clearly explain to you when you were a teenager that that time would one day come -- c'mon, admit it, you'd have probably thrown up on the spot! I mean, as tense and nervous as you were then, the idea of sitting with someone in silence, the idea of being known that way -- that would have COMPLETELY freaked you out.
When you are dating, or when you are first married, you see old couples walking down the street holding hands and not saying a word. And you think, "I wonder what's wrong with them." You assume there's something wrong with their relationship. But as you get older, you start to understand that what's really happening is something far deeper, far more significant than what you could ever have previously realized. You begin to understand that they have moved away from talk and activity as the foundation for their relationship (Why won't you talk to me? What are we going to DO tonight?), and they have established a foundation that is far more joyful, comfortable, and fulfilling, based on simple presence. Unpretentious, comfortable, peaceful, presence.
I was counseling a woman one time who angrily explained to me, "My husband called me out of the kitchen to come into the living room last week, and I dropped what I was doing and went in there, and when I got there he didn't say a word to me. He just kept on watching the game." She's thinking, "What a pig - he'd prefer football over me. He knows I don't like football." But he's thinking, "This is the life. A moment ago I only had football, but now I have her AND football. Things are perfect now." But rather than sitting with him, just being in his presence (and letting him be in hers), she wanted to sit and talk. And somehow the time together didn't count to her unless they were talking. Talking is fine, and talking is really important, but talking is only valuable when it conveys presence.
I like women. I have always gotten along well with women. I enjoy women because they are usually very good conversationalists, and they are usually pretty aware of how they're feeling about something and good at expressing it. (No insult there, fellas). So what I'm about to say, I say as a pretty big fan of women in general, and in light of the many strengths women have when it comes to relationships. But I think sometimes men tend to understand more about how important this facet of simple presence is in relationships. Women definitely value presence, but often for them presence is established by talking. Men, on the other hand, tend to be less verbal (less interested in talking), and enjoy companionship -- being with, without always having to talk to. Men want simple presence from their wives as much as women want conversation from their husbands. Women, do you know your husband probably wants to just sit in your presence - for you to BE WITH him? It almost sounds royal, until you realize how boring it can be for you.