God’s Presence and Our Present-ness

Worship is the strategy by which we interrupt our preoccupation with ourselves and attend to the presence of God.”
— Eugene Peterson

I’ve been thinking a lot about the presence of God. If I look back on my life, especially at times of powerful congregational worship, I can honestly say that there are moments when It felt like God was more present than He was at other times. Why is that? Does God sometimes choose to be somewhere at one time and yet not at others? Is there something that we do as worshipers that encourages God to show up more or less in a place? 

I used to believe that if I was a good enough worship leader and could get a congregation to do and say the right things, that we could convince God that what was happening down here was worth His time. 

But something I’ve been forced to think about is the fact that The Holy Spirit is with us always. He doesn’t leave us when we sin, and He doesn’t become “more present” when we read our Bible’s a lot. What if leading worship isn’t really about bringing God’s presence to us, but rather about bringing our present-ness to God? 

In a culture where I find it difficult to focus on anything for very long (like on this post), where my attention is constantly being pulled in different directions, one of the most valuable things I can offer is my attention, the choice to be present.  

I find that being present to God is one of the most life-altering things I can do, because God is always working, always moving, always breathing. The life changing power of His presence in my life is not dependent upon whether or not He shows up. It’s about whether or not I do. If God is already with us, then the power of His presence becomes effective and life-changing when we acknowledge that He’s there. This is why I think Paul talks about worship as being a “living sacrifice”. Anything can be an act of worship when we acknowledge that God is there. 

God has given us Himself, The Holy Spirit, as a gift. There isn’t anything we can do to earn it or make it better. As worshipers, maybe it would do us a lot of good to check ourselves when we begin to believe (as I often do) that the things we do bring God’s presence to us. Maybe we could challenge ourselves to understand that He is already here, and it is our job to be present to Him. The degree to which we choose to be present to God will be the degree to which worship changes our hearts to be more like His. 

Lane Greenleaf-Perez

Lane grew up in Southern California and graduated from Vanguard University in 2013, where he met his wife, Jayna. They are currently living in Beaverton, Oregon, where they lead worship for their local church. They welcomed their first child, William, in October 2016. He loves the local church and has plans to attend seminary to earn his Master's of Divinity.