One of the profoundest promises in all of Scripture (and, thus, all of history) is, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Mt. 28:20). We cheat ourselves each moment we let pass without cashing in on those words. Every fear, every task, every mystery and turning corner, every long stretch of seemingly endless road under a burdensome sun, each trial and joy and calling and confrontation, all of life should be filtered through the lens of that divine treasure of a promise.
And it is especially held out to the disciple-makers, whether ordained servants of Word, order, and sacrament, or lay apprentices to the Master. Anyone committed to the work of disciple-making—in its myriad ordered and spontaneous incarnations—will find a palpable fulfillment of that precious promise, nothing less than the abiding presence of the Master himself.
“Do my work,” he says. “Live the life that I am making you to live. Do the work that I am equipping you to do. Step into the story that we are writing together. You will have enough—power, provision, peace—you will have all you need, because I am with you. Through struggles and doubts and wins and losses and the sheer pain of the mundane, I am with you. In the dark night of the soul and the new mercies of the morning, I wake and walk with you.
“When you fix yourself to your own formation as a true disciple, forsaking all else, and when you sacrifice yourself for the loving good of another’s growth into my likeness, that’s when you will find me most keenly present. Fill yourself and empty yourself and there I am, empowering you, catching you, restoring you, running ahead of you and urging you on, giving my life for you, raising you.
“But even when you give up, fall down, or just decide to hide until the day is done, you are mine and I am yours. Until the sun finally sets forever on this present, desperate age, and the dawn of the new in ribbons of pink and orange finally turns to the full light of day and you see face to face, even so, I am with you.”
That is surely a big enough promise to live into for all of our days. All humble thanks to our loving Lord, for his promise and, especially, for his presence. May we grow to be as present to him as he is to us.