Last Sunday, I received a nice, homemade Father’s Day picture from my grandchildren. It portrayed each of them as little monkeys clinging to a vine. Above the drawing was the following sentiment: “We love hangin’ with you, Papaw!”
While I could easily focus on the appropriateness of comparing those kids to wild monkeys at certain times, instead let me comment on the caption accompanying the picture. I hope it’s true.
It’s nice when your kids or grandkids simply like to be around you. It reveals that their devotion to you isn’t just about the presents you give them, the special places you take them, or the activities you do with them. If they enjoy just hanging out with you in a variety of settings and situations because of who you are, that’s gratifying evidence of a close, loving relationship.
Do we love to hang out with our Heavenly Father? Certainly we appreciate all that He does for us — providing for our needs, helping us through tough times, protecting us from various dangers, and preparing a wonderful home in heaven for us.
But is our relationship with Him based on more than just what He does for us and the promises of the special place to which He’s going to take us when this life is over? Do we enjoy simply spending time with God?
I like the way the psalmist expressed it: “in Your presence is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11). He found joy in just being with God.
In another psalm it declares, “How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God” (Psalm 84:1-2). The tabernacle and courts of the Lord represented places where God had especially promised to be present. This person was expressing a deep desire in his heart to have fellowship with God.
As we consider this concept, we should realize that in one sense, we are never outside of God’s presence. He is the omnipresent Spirit who is there wherever we find ourselves. We could not escape His presence even if we wanted to do so.
But we should also have a desire in our hearts just to hang out with God at times, in the sense of being aware of His presence and fellowshipping with Him as we share our hearts with Him and listen for what He might want to say to us.
For example, do we look forward to going to church in order to meet God, to worship Him, and to hear His message for us?
Of course God’s presence isn’t limited to a modern-day tabernacle. While public worship is beneficial as a special opportunity to be in God’s presence with other believers, we can meet with Him at other times in the privacy of our own homes, or wherever we are in the solitude of our own hearts and souls.
Do we look forward to reading our Bibles and discovering what God may want to say to us today? Do we enjoy spending time in prayer, talking things over with God as we might do with a close friend?
Or do we see church attendance, Bible reading, and prayer as burdensome acts which we dread?
Let’s try to appreciate God more for who He is, not just for what He does for us. Recognize how much He loves you and enjoy His presence as you go through your day. Let’s seek to find joy in just hanging out with our Father who cares so much for us. The desire to do so is a sign of the loving, close relationship we should be having with Him.
The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.