By Marilyn Ehle
â€œâ€¦abide in meâ€¦This is to my Fatherâ€™s glory, that you bear much fruitâ€¦â€?Â (John 15)
â€œI spent all this money on a mission trip and now you tell me to just â€˜beâ€™ with the people?Â No sharing of the Gospel, no handing out Bibles, no giving my testimony?â€?
Such were the questions – some spoken, some uttered only in the frustrated minds – of a group of young adults who traveled halfway around the world to participate in a church-sponsored mission trip. How could oneâ€™s mere presence fulfill the goal of Christâ€™s commission to bring the good news of salvation to all who would hear?
While we are too frequently less than faithful in giving words to our faith, it is also true that we who live in the Western world easily slip into the trap of placing more value on our words than on our actions, or even on our â€œmere presence.â€?
Could this be why we also shy away from wordlessly sitting in the presence of God, listening for whatever whispered words he might choose to utter in solitude and silence? The worlds around us place high value on production, success, activity, and their accompanying sounds. If we are not attentive, how quickly we can be ensnared by that same value system.
During the closing days of the mission trip described above, the participants who had traveled so far to speak the Gospel were amazed to hear the comments of people who had been observing them: â€œWe watched to see how you reacted when the power went off or the well went dry. We saw you praying as you stood under a tree. We felt your hugs. We want to know the God who made you this way.â€?
Jesus, it sounds so simple to just â€œabide,â€? to just rest in you, to block out the noise of the world and the clutter of my mind, but I confess that I often choose activity over solitude, sound over silence because in activity and sound there is some sense of my effort and worth. Help me be more aware of when you want my presence to be your instrument of grace in a dying world.
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