Listen, Bear Witness
“What does it mean to be present? It means being open and available to others with as much of ourselves as possible, as unguarded as possible.” – Mark Yaconelli, in Contemplative Youth Ministry
We want to be a church that will listen to youth, not just give advice. We want to be Christians who bear witness – and be present – to our kids, not just offer programs and activities. But in our busy lives it is so hard to find time to just be, and to be truly present with another person.
The person of Jesus is the one person in our lives that it is the most safe to just be with. He is infinitely understanding and compassionate. We have his full attention, and he looks upon us with kindness and without condemnation. He is for us, not against us. He is patient with us, he trusts us with his mission, and his presence is always with us.
No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because everything I have learned from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit… (John 15:15-16a, NIV)
Spending time in the presence of Jesus paves the way to experience freedom from anxiety. You may have heard that meditation and contemplation is one of the ways that we can actually rewire our brains. These ancient practices have been around since the start of human history, including the early church, and it is the sort of spiritual practice that can gradually, radically transform our minds. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
We all know what it’s like to be formed by the patterns of this world; we absorb patterns of anxiety, busyness, and striving. During covid especially, we feel the pressure of more demands, and less energy. Yet the freedom promised in Christ – that easy yoke and light burden – is not achieved by doing for God, but by being with God.
We must actively combat anxiety and the busyness which keeps us from God. The way we will reach a place where we can be truly present to others – especially those different from us in age, race, or ability – is if we first learn how to be present to Jesus.
If your mind wanders 1000 times, it’s 1000 opportunities to return to the Father.