What Does the Presence of God Mean in Our Lives?

In the book Gilead, author Marilynne Robinson has one of her characters pontificate on Matthew 26:26, in the midst of what we call "the last supper", when Jesus was celebrating Passover with his disciples  right before he would be murdered and resurrected.

Here's the verse: "As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, "Take this and eat it, for this is my body."

Robinson draws out this tension where the bread is both blessed AND broken.

At the same time.

When Jesus breaks the bread, it doesn't stop being blessed.

I sometimes repeat that phrase to myself when considering God's presence in my life.

I am blessed AND broken.

God's presence is in my life. He has promised that as I have asked him to fill my heart with his Holy Spirit, he has done it.

But my life still has issues. I'm still a work in progress. Does that mean God isn't really a part of my life? Not at all.

Just because I'm broken doesn't mean I am not also blessed.

God has promised that he is making all things new, but it is a process occurring on God's timeline, not mine.

Prior to the time God brings that promise to fruition, blessed and broken is where I am going to exist.

This is not a new idea. God has always been one to give hope in the midst of devastation and disaster. To give a promise of something better, even when things just pretty much sucked.

After the Garden of Eden, God chose a man named Abram to create a chosen people. God was showing the world, 'I'm not done yet. I can and will make this right.' In fact God even told Abraham (after changing his name) that his purpose was so that the world had an opportunity to be blessed by God even in the midst of the brokenness sin had caused.

When those chosen people, Israel, began their journey to a promised land, God's presence went with them, even after they had greatly sinned against God. God shared his presence as a reminder that they were blessed in the midst of their brokenness.

When they eventually possessed the promised land, God allows his people to build a temple which will signify God's presence with his vastly imperfect people. When the temple is dedicated, God demonstrates his presence is a big way.

In the New Testament, we see that God does not forget his Son after his death on the crucifixion.

The Apostle Peter, who denies even knowing Jesus in the crucial moments of his sham trial, is restored by the same Jesus after his resurrection.

God's presence begins to show up among Gentiles; the off-limits, not-good-enough, definitely-not-God's-people.

Blessed and broken.

God's presence in our lives is pointing us to this redemption, restoration, resurrection. But in the meantime, we are also still broken.

We need to pretend like we have it all together after deciding to follow Jesus. In fact, I think we do a disservice when we try to act that way. We don't worship a God who puts "lipstick on the pig". We worship a God who welcomes home the son or daughter who desperately needs to be accepted and loved despite being a total screw up.

In that moment everything is okay because we are blessed, even as it will take time for us to be healed in our brokenness.