Have you heard people pray asking God to "show up" in a time of need?
Or, after a difficult circumstance, have you heard someone express gratitude and surprise that God "showed up" in a big way?
I think we have it wrong. God doesn't show up. According to scripture, God is with us always, never leaves or forsakes us, knows our need before we ask, and desires to give good gifts to his children.
If we believe we need to beg God to be present of if we're surprised when we become aware of his loving action, I propose that we may believe some not-quite-true things about God. Perhaps these sound familiar:
As we prepare for worship together, we don't need to ask God to come to his people or to fill the sanctuary with his Presence. He is already present; we are the ones who are absent. We come scattered, frazzled, distracted. A call to worship is not, "Come, Spirit, fill this place." But, "Spirit, we have come. Collect our distracted minds and hearts that we might be present to You who is already present to us."
Our personal prayer is not "Show up in my need, Lord." But, "Thank you that you are present to me even when I am distracted and afraid. You know my need for healing and rescue. Help me to turn toward you to receive from your already outstretched hands that which you desire to give me."
The healing movement is not an external one: "Come, Lord Jesus, Come."
Rather, the healing is an internal awareness and surrender to the One who is already present and is enabling my awareness and my surrender: "Here's my heart, Oh Lord."
Some may feel that this is simply semantics. Asking God to come and show up when we are the absent ones is not a big deal. These are just the words we've given to the beginning of corporate worship or private prayer. However, I believe it is more than semantics. Out of the heart, the mouth speaks. What we say is a window to what we believe.
Consider: Do you believe that God─Father, Son and Spirit─ is present to his children? Is He present to you? If so, turn toward Him and receive His good gifts.