Invisible Presence

Okay, don’t let this creep you out! For the last decade, I have been returning to a town that was once my home. Every spring and autumn, I seek intentional seclusion and solitude so that I can think constructively about the future, about the needs of our church, and to create a skeleton of plans. I do that for the church and I do that for my own soul. It’s a refreshing discipline, but it’s strange to be invisible.

You see, I left that town many years ago. I have grayed since then, grown a goatee, and been absent for so long, people don’t expect to see me, so they don’t. Since it’s intentional solitude, I slip in and slip out of restaurants, the library, the coffee joint. I meet two friends all week for a short conversation, but other than that, I’m alone and invisible.  If someone makes eye contact, I always identify myself–I’m not antisocial or avoiding people.  They just rarely do.  (I can’t help but smile when they do, but people rarely make eye contact any more and I don’t barge into their lives.)

Today, I watched a young man whom I had baptized many years ago. He was on break from his work, slipped through the coffee shop, oblivious that I was watching. I saw a couple whose troubled marriage I had sought to help. They met for lunch, and their frequent smiles were an encouragement to me.

I was present but invisible because no one expected me.  No one expected to be encouraged, greeted, or joined by me.  Through the years, I have ended my invisibility with people, choosing those surprising moments to bless, affirm, and catch up.  Every trip here reminds me that Jesus is always with us, ready to be included in our decisions, conversations, frustrations, needs, questions, fears, and doubts.  But we are oblivious to his presence because we don’t EXPECT it.

What if we did?  What if we expected his presence all day long and kept the “conversation” going with him between meetings, between tasks?  I find it so comforting to know Jesus is near, even though He’s invisible, and I find myself picking up the conversation with Him related to whatever I’m doing.

Will you “expect” Him in your day today?