Every Sunday, for as long as I can recall, there is a man who always walks in just a little after worship has started, takes his place in the same area, pretty much sits in the same chair, and sits alone. He make shake a hand or two, but he faithfully comes in a wee bit late and sits alone to read his bible, listen to the message and take in every word. You can see it on his face. He is there for more than “checking it off his list.” He’s there for one reason – He needs it. He is timidly friendly, humble and never really speaks to groves of people, (maybe 1 or 2), but never fails to do one thing – bless me with the ministry of his presence. Just being there. Because, … he always is. Always is, right there.
You see, my friend and mentor, Nan Thompson, always taught us about “the ministry of your presence.” What that means is this – when we wouldn’t “feel” like going to church, or didn’t “feel like” gathering when our church family would gather together, she would always say something along the lines of:
“But you don’t realize the ministry of your presence. Just being there could be blessing others who are counting on you just to be there. Sitting in your area (or pew), walking through the church halls, being in your chair in life group, or simply being among the family could be (and more than likely is) touching, blessing and ministering to someone who is watching…someone who just “counts” on you being there…someone who always seems to lean over and look to see if “you” are in your place.”
Miss Nan always made sure we understood that just gathering when the family gathers is ministering to people, even if all it is is this – the ministry of your presence.
So, back to the man who always is in his place at our church on Sunday.
Well, this Sunday he walked in, a little late like he does….but this time he wasn’t alone!
This time, he walked in with a short petite woman and was carrying a darlin’ little girl. Looked to be about 6-7 years old, with special needs. She was just beautiful! Curly hair, wearing thick glasses, and had on a precious pink outfit. The woman with him was carrying a little girls church bag that had some “supplies” in it.
But it was that man! His face was glowing! He walked in and instead of slinking down the side of the wall to the outer edge of the row of chairs. He walked proudly in front of a section of people carrying that precious angel in his arms. He took a new place in a new row among a new set of people. He lifted his little girl on his hip a little higher so she could see the choir and the screens and he kept singing while looking up at her. Smiling! You could tell that his man was elated! Full of JOY! The woman beside him kept patting the little girl’s leg as it dangled from his waist and they all just kept smiling!
But as for me….
Standing there with no tissue, just the sleeve of my husband’s shirt, I stood there with Rip watching this entire new scene and I wept and wept and wept. Because of the ministry of this one man’s presence and his JOY in having the companionship of a little girl and a dear caring woman with him, I worshipped like I didn’t expect!
Everyone in the worship center was singing, but all I could do was praise God for what I was seeing! Praising Him with my tears.
I don’t know who they were, … his wife, his daughter, his sister, grandchild, niece. I have no idea. But what I do know is, the ministry of his presence this past Sunday ministered to me so much! I was so touched by what God was doing and had done and it was this – HE orchestrated circumstances so that precious man would be in church with 2 people who loved him and that he obviously deeply loved.
And I will never be able to thank Miss Nan enough for teaching me the truth and the value in … the ministry of our presence. I thought of her the moment the tears began to roll down my face, thanking God for what I was seeing. It was just too wonderful to witness!
This new year, will you consider the ministry of your presence among your faith family?
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching,” Hebrews 10:24-25.