AUGUST 8, 2012
MINISTRY OF PRESENCE
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you. (Philippians 1:3, NASB)
Many of you who read the Links Daily Devotional are involved in a local Links Fellowship or similar Bible study.
After seven years, I am finally beginning to understand a Links Fellowship. Links Players has always advanced this idea
of bringing men and women together using the common ground of golf. From there, we set out to grow in our faith together. Finally, I am understanding these blessings from experience.
The blessing is not that we are all Bible scholars blowing each other away with intellectual truth. Sometimes that does
happen, but our smarts have almost nothing to do with it. Rather, we are able to impact and encourage one another because we care, we listen, and we get involved in the lives of others. Bottom line: we
allow others to know us.
The late priest and author Henri Nouwen described so well what this ministry is about in his book, ¡Gracias!:
More and more, the desire grows in me to simply walk around, greet people, enter their
homes, sit on their door steps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them. It is a privilege to have the time to practice this simple ministry of presence.
Still, it is not as simple as it seems. My own desire to be useful, to do something significant, or
to be a part of some impressive project is so strong that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups, and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets. It is difficult not to
have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause, and not to feel that you are working directly for social progress.
But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and
drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but you truly love them.
Now let me share with you a note I received from one of the men who is so involved in a Links Fellowship that I attend.
His name is Ernie, and he said, “After the Bible study this morning, I went back to my office and reflected on the things I heard and saw. We talk a lot about golf, basketball, football, and of
course I talk about racquetball. But what I am doing is watching body language and really listening to what my brothers have to say. For it is from there that the edge of my sword gets sharpened. As I
look into Randy’s eyes, I see the love of God. As I watch and learn from Gene and hear about his love for (his dear aging friends) Ben and Barbara, I see God’s compassion in action. As I see
the excitement on Jason’s face as he talks about his kids or notice Jeff’s smile which lights up the room, I know about God’s love for us in a very real way. I see Brady light up when
he mentions his new bride. And who could ever miss the love that Johnny has for his lovely bride and friend. This all helps me as I follow Jesus. I remain in awe when I think of where I was before God
Noticing the simple way God changes others through the constant rhythms of life changes me. Yes, I learn about the
truth of Scripture, but more importantly I learn about living life well to the glory of God. It all simply is made available as we practice the ministry of presence—being there for each other as
God is there for us.
August 8, 2012
Copyright 2012 Links Players International
The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.