Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” (Psalm 16:1-2)
Presence is a really big deal at the Dunton house. In fact, it would be extremely rare for you to come over to our house and for us all not to be in the same room. For some people, love finds its most valuable expression in gifts or words of affirmation, but in our house, to love is to be present.
When my wife, Joanna, and I first got married, it seemed like whenever I would want to unwind after a long day of work, Joanna always would want to snuggle up to me on the couch or sit really close and just talk. Some days, I would protest with what I’m sure was a truck load of snark. But on those days, she would very sweetly and simply respond with, “I missed you today, and I just want to be near you.”
She even instituted a nightly ritual called “stare time” that we now do every single night before we go to bed. What cracks me up about “stare time” is that some nights we will sit next to each other reading or watching TV for several hours and not say one word to each other, but as soon as our heads hit the pillow, she looks at me and suddenly wants to wade into the waters of deep and intimate conversation. This used to bug the mess out of me, but it’s now the best part of my day.
One of my daughter’s favorite phrases right now is “Daddy, I go with you.” It doesn’t matter what the activity is. It can be having a tea party, sitting with me in my office as I work, or simply walking with me to the mailbox. For her, it’s not about the activity. It’s about the proximity. It’s about presence.
David & God
King David understood presence. I don’t think you receive the title “Man after God’s Own Heart” without some understanding of the benefit of being in the presence of the Lord.
David faced some of the most troubling times, some of the darkest nights and some of the most painful circumstances, yet his consistent profession was that the nearness of God was all he needed to navigate this life. He was convinced the time with his God was the “meaning of life” and in it was the “fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11). Of this we can be sure, in spite of the many missteps taken by this blemished king, David was convinced there was nothing more precious in heaven and on earth than the presence of God.
I recently was reading in Psalm 16—one of David’s many—and was absolutely overwhelmed by the presence of the Lord. I lifted up my voice in praise. I wept tears of joy before him. I marveled at his faithfulness in my life and also in the life of his church. I also found myself completely blown away by his profession in verse 2: “I have no good apart from you.”
This is no small statement. David was a king, for crying out loud! He literally had every treasure, every pleasure, every relationship imaginable at the snap of his fingers. Yet in the face of all this world had to offer, his response was “compared to God, everything else is worthless!”
“Count everything as loss”
The Apostle Paul put it another way in Philippians 3:8: “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ ….”
David and Paul both came to the same conclusion. If they had the Lord, they had everything they would ever need.
My prayer for today is that the church would cease to be known as anything other than people of his presence. That our leaders would be infinitely more concerned with their proximity to the Lord than with the success of their programs. That just as they said of Peter and John in Acts 4, when people encounter us, they would be utterly astonished and recognize we have been with Jesus.
That our hearts would overflow with this anthem: “God if I have you, I have everything.”
Jason Dunton is the contemporary worship arts pastor at First Baptist Church in Bryan, Texas, where he lives and loves with his wife, Joanna, daughter, Penelope, and English bulldog, Grubby.