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Today’s Truth

You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever (Psalm 16:11 NLT).

Friend to Friend

I could feel myself leaning forward in my seat as I watched the mock counseling session unfold before me. How long would my classmate, who was acting as the counselor, hold the space and remain silent while my other classmate, who was the client, vulnerably processed her struggle?

She waited and waited, not saying a word but leaning into the confession.

This was no longer a demonstration in a class full of observing students but rather a real moment of vulnerability from a young woman who felt stuck and overwhelmed. She was ready for help. Her willingness invited the authentic connection with her “pretend” counselor, who held the space with tenderness and empathy. A breakthrough was happening . . . and then the timer buzzed announcing the end of the five-minute session. Yes, only five minutes!

With a deep sigh, our professor graciously acknowledged and applauded the work – both the deep work of the classmate willing to get real before all of us and the careful work of the classmate who responded to confession with the perfect amount of silence and an insightful probing question to get beneath the surface.

It was a beautiful lesson about the power of silence – a lesson I was struggling to learn. So I asked my professor, “How do you know when to say something and when to keep quiet?” His response was so simple yet so profound.

“As long as it takes. This is the ministry of presence. This is what the Lord does for us.”

Immediately, I thought of Immanuel, which means, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).  I thought of all the ways God reveals His presence in my life – from the calming peace that comes in the middle of chaos to the overflowing joy when there is a simple resolution to a problem. Isn’t this what the Psalmist describes of God when he declared, “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever” (Psalm 16:11 NLT).

Imagine what would happen if we lived with the confidence of the Psalmist, fully knowing and sensing the presence of God while finding pleasure simply from being with Him. Would we be able to let go of the worry, striving, and stress as we trust in the One who is with us, leading and guiding us, because we would know Him in such a real and tangible way?

We find life’s greatest pleasures in the presence of God.

Yet, the gift of God’s presence will be missed if we don’t hold space, as my counselor-in-training classmate did for our fellow student. She waited quietly, purposefully, intently as the words and tears poured forth. She didn’t rush in to fix the struggle or get quickly through the uncomfortable vulnerability. In so many ways, she portrayed God . . . with us.

Yes, God is with us.

Immanuel.

Moment by moment.

Not rushing but waiting.

Maybe probing, but patiently.

He is with us, working in His presence. But are we paying attention to Him? Looking for Him?

What would happen if we shifted our focus from connecting with God to get what we want from Him and rather seek the gift of His presence, knowing that is exactly what we need? Imagine the transformation that would take place, not only in us but also in what He wants to accomplish through us as ambassadors of His ministry of presence.

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, thank You for this gift of Your presence that we find by faith in Jesus Christ. Thank You for calling us into the ministry of presence with You and with each other. May we learn how to experience Your presence, holding space for our hearts to heal, minds to be transformed, and lives to be utterly changed for Your glory.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn 

What does God’s ministry of presence look and feel like for you?
What does God’s ministry of presence to others look and feel like to you?
What would it look like for you to hold space for someone else to process what he or she is going through rather than rushing in to fix the problem?

More from the Girlfriends

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© 2022 by Elisa Pulliam. All rights reserved.

9 Responses to “The Ministry of Presence”

  1. B says:

    “What would it look like for you to hold space for someone else to process what he or she is going through rather than rushing in to fix the problem?”

    This is so important. We must allow people to process their situation and sometimes just offer our presence.

  2. Frightened says:

    I don’t have the words to describe my emotions and feelings. I just learned my nephew is in the police academy. Only one word truly hit me. TERROR. What if someone tries to murder him? I’m truly overwhelmed by fear. Right now being a cop is like going to war. His wife said, he is fighting for his country. I just wish he would find another profession.

    I really know its a calling from God in todays world to be a police officer. I just don’t know how to process this. Please pray for my nephew.

    Thank you

    • GiGs says:

      Trust God at His Word. 2 Timothy 1:7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. God created everything by the power of His Word. He is sovereignly in control of all things. Luke 12:25-26 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? You cannot change anything by worrying. Spend your energy praying and ask God to give you peace as you place your faith and trust in His sovereign plan for your family. Blessings.

  3. Dennia says:

    Hi, Elisa and thanks for your words of counseling about counseling. 😊 My situation is on a different “plane” than live interaction as I am a kind of unofficial chaplain to women online. The principle of not rushing to state a solution and calling “Next!” to another lady who is waiting in line, so to speak, with a problem, I find still applies. I still need to “listen” carefully. I need to stop and breathe a prayer that God will give me wisdom as well as insight in replying in a loving manner. I take my responsibility seriously just as though I were sitting across the table from someone who came to me wanting to share her pain or concerns and needing a listening ear. I also find that this ministry is as fulfilling and rewarding as being in the same role in the “real world.”

    You also mention how we can switch roles when coming to God and letting him be the listener while we feel free to share with him our struggles, pain, relationships, or anything that concerns us, and how we can be “in his presence.” This I need to have more of. I’m afraid that I’m somewhat afraid of being with God, to be perfectly honest. Something bothers me and I have to work through it when I approach him, even though I know better, that I’m forgiven and loved very, very much. Yes, I know I’m forgiven but I also know, or suspect that I’m holding back from full commitment; I mean, there’s always—always! something more I could (or should?) do for His kingdom! Right? There’s always something in my life that maybe the Lord doesn’t approve of. Is this because of my strict Bible-based upbringing? It was strict but not confining; not like that. It’s just…well, good Christians just don’t do this or that. I’m rambling now, but maybe some of you ladies know what I mean. If you’d like, you can pray for me or chat with me.

    Well, to all of you, I send my prayer for you and yours to have a blessed day. 🌺 Dennia Lynne

  4. Dennia (again) says:

    I don’t know if many will see this, but here goes anyway. Would you believe (you probably would knowing you know how God works) that this very day I saw on my Facebook memories an article that I wrote and posted a year ago called The Key? And in this article I found I had answered my own heart’s cry that whole year ago? The KEY to wanting to be with God and breaking down any barriers that you feel are between you and Him is simply…He loves you! Oh, how he loves you! He wants you to come to him more than you know! It’s that simple. Nothing stands between us and our Lord when we realize that we have the Key always in hand, and it’s knowing we are loved…so so much!

  5. Lisa Pulliam says:

    B, thanks for taking the time to share how this devotional spoke to you!

  6. Lisa Pulliam says:

    You are such a caring and loving aunt to be concerned about the safety of your nephew. I can tell you are equally committed to the Lord in your ability to recognize that your nephew is responding to a call that God is placing on his life. I imagine the fear you feel for his life is overwhelming, even though you know in your mind that God is trustworthy . . . if you are like me, we know that loving God and trusting Him does not mean a life without heartache, suffering, loss, and pain.

    One of the ways that I’ve been able to deal with fear is by not trying to fight against it or make it go away. It has helped to actually think of the ways the Lord would provide for me and carry me through — if what I imagine to be the worst-case scenario would come true.

    They say that fear is “false evidence appearing real” but just yesterday as I was talking to the Lord about this, I had another thought.

    Fear is actually “Felt Emotions [seeking] Attunement [and] Regulation.”

    Your feelings are valid. There is good reason to be scared of your nephew becoming a police officer and fearing for his life. But rather than carrying that fear alone, you did such a brave and healthy thing by sharing your heart with us. You were attuned to how you were feeling and now you are connecting with us who can carry you through this by prayer.

    Who else can you connect with in person and experience the necessary gift of co-regulation? We’re not meant to go through life alone. And when we are struggling to feel the presence of God, we can lean into His people to find that comfort our heart, mind, body, and soul needs.

  7. Lisa Pulliam says:

    Dennia, your humble confession is beautiful. I am sure many leaders, counselors, and women of God resonate with how you feel. I know I’ve been there!

    I think you’re on to something when you ask, “Is this because of my strict Bible-based upbringing? It was strict but not confining; not like that. It’s just…well, good Christians just don’t do this or that . . .”

    We all have a lens through which we view God, others, and ourselves. That’s been shaped by our upbringing. To some degree, adopting those views likely served us well . . . until they don’t. Maybe the Lord is challenging you to explore a fresh view of who He is by inviting you deeper into His presence simply as you are?

  8. Carol says:

    Dennia…..
    I understand you all too well.
    Being from a strict Christian home, was also, for me, a huge stumbling block to come back to my faith.
    Too many years of not feeling good enough for God to love me. That thinking is just plain wrong!
    God is Love. He also, very much loves us!
    You just except God’s forgiveness, it’s a free gift. Please read Paul’s explanation in Romans 6. All the good works are great but, you don’t earn your way into heaven.
    Jesus just wants us to “abide” in Him; because He is our vine. As long as you spend time in the scriptures and in prayer, He will always, be there for you. You are human. Mistakes will happen; just remember to ask for forgiveness and continue to move forward in His footsteps.
    Blessings and love for you, on your journey with Christ.

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"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well…" 1 Thessalonians 2:8