One of the names given to Jesus is Immanuel. It means God with us. When He walked this earth He told His disciples that if they had seen Him they had seen the Father. There He was, quite literally, God walking, talking, sleeping, eating, doing miracles with us.
There are days I long for His physical presence. I imagine sitting at His feet, resting my head against His knee and feeling His hand caress my head. Most days, that would be enough. But there are other days I long to hear His voice. I want to lie still, tucked beneath my quilt, and hear Him tell me the things He has on His heart. After all, I talk all the time, and He listens - oh how He listens.
The reality is, both of those things happen all the time. I may not see Him with my physical eyes or feel His touch, but He is here with me. I may not hear His audible voice, but He speaks to me.
I was reminded of this in a movie theater one afternoon several years ago. It was a movie I really wanted to see despite the R rating. I'm a big girl, after all, and can filter out the bad stuff. Besides, my favorite actors were in it. No one else was available to go - so I went by myself.
It was an early afternoon showing, and I literally had the little theater almost to myself. I was surrounded by a sea of empty chairs. I relaxed into my seat as the the lights dimmed and the movie began. It was a good movie. It really was. However the language was really rough. I became increasingly uncomfortable. I looked at the empty seat next to me and imagined Jesus sitting there. After all, He goes everywhere I take Him. He resides in my heart. So there He was, and I felt such sadness sweep over me.
I made a decision that afternoon, to never go anywhere or listen to anything I didn't think Jesus would be comfortable with. I confess, I have messed up a couple of times, but for the most part this knowing He is always with me has shaped my choices.
I don't say this is right for everyone, but for me it is exactly right. My imagination and sensitivity is such that I don't do well storing up certain things in my heart. There are some things there I wish I had never seen or heard. He knows what is best for me. I think He showed up that afternoon to gently get that point across.
Immanuel - God with us.