Matthew 1:23 The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel—which means, “God with us.”
John 1:1-2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
God’s with-ness to us and ours to His children has been on my mind a great many years. It started when I counseled young, successful, perfectionist women who never felt they measured up to all God wanted them to do. I used to remind them of the story of Mary and Martha and who had done the better thing (Luke 10:38-42). I told them they were created human beings and not human doings.
God’s ultimate goal for us is to be with us in heaven for eternity—relationship. This state of being is exemplified in His name I am, Who am. Though He has done countless, extraordinary things, nowhere in the Bible is He entitled I do, because, though He may call us to action, the best action starts with relationship.
Then my son was born. My son with autism who is delayed in so many of those things we use to measure success in an individual—including speech. He could never tell me he loved me, and I could not be sure he understood when I told him. The only way I could communicate my love was in my with-ness. Being there for him in good times and in bad.
How do I know this? Because he is the first to show others this state of being in times of need. He’s sought out troubled souls in large gatherings to kiss them for no apparent reason, lighting up their sorrowed faces. He’s come into a different room to look into my eyes, because somehow he knew I was crying. He sits with me when I feel alone, and reminds me to pray when I’m distraught.
One time, when he was about three, after his father had just come home from a trip and we were catching up on all that had happened while he’d been gone, my son slowly scooted my husband closer to me in the kitchen. Then he scooted me closer to my husband. No words. He went back and forth a few times until our bodies met—my husband, still chatting on as he did. Then, he wrapped his arms around both our legs. He knew what we really needed to catch up on—being with.
This is what God ultimately wants from us. It’s what His son gave us while He was here. It is how we demonstrate Godliness to those who do not know God. It doesn’t take words. It takes relationship.
A few months ago, our nation saw a tragedy in a massive shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where twenty children and six adults were murdered. A friend of mine asked me, “What do you say to those who’ve just experienced that kind of loss?” The answer is, “Nothing.” Any words will sound trite—things the hearer already knows or is not ready to hear. James 1:19 tells us to be slow to speak and quick to listen. It’s part of being with, and yet it is one of the hardest things for us to actually do, because it feels like we are doing nothing at all.
I bet you think this message is strange coming from a writer whose ministry is in the use of words. But it’s one of those things that makes me even more attuned to the vulnerability of them. They can be purposeful and life-giving. Yet without relationship to give them credibility, they are just etchings on a page or noise in the air. So, remember, while flexing your skill to be a better “witness” for the Lord, make sure you demonstrate His Love through your With-ness.
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