The Dude Abides
Ever heard someone use the phrase “God showed up?” Usually it’s uttered after a powerful worship service. After the singing and the preaching, someone says, “Wow. God was there. Did you feel that?” I know I’ve said it before. But it’s one of those sayings that isn’t accurate. The longer I follow Jesus I realize that He is with me and he’s not leaving. He’s not the type that comes late to a party or “shows up” when he feels like it. He abides.
I think what most of us mean when we say “God showed up” is that we’ve become aware of His presence. It’s not that all of a sudden God appeared. He was already there. Instead, what we’re saying is that we showed up. We opened our eyes and saw him; we opened our ears and heard him; we felt Him because we were present.
Have you ever had a moment like that, a moment where you became aware of His presence? I’m not talking about some kind of weird, out-of-body mystical experience. But just on an ordinary day, in plain and ordinary way, you experienced God? In that moment you thought to yourself: “Yeah, God is with me.”
We were at summer camp last year and during one of the final nights there was an incredibly powerful time of worship. It was amazing. The band stopped leading the songs but no one left the chapel area. High School students kept singing and it forced the band to go into another set of songs. It was an amazing thing to witness as a pastor.
One student of mine was touched by this whole thing. He was overwhelmed with emotion and he really couldn’t put into words what he felt. He wandered off to the side and sat down against the wall. After sometime I walked over and knelt beside him. I asked him about what he was thinking and feeling. He looked up at me with damp eyes and said, “I don’t know; I feel a presence.”
I knew what he meant. “Feeling” God is like that–it’s an understanding that we are in His presence. We are not alone. We are not forsaken. We are very much in the center of Him; in the center of our God who is near. The Scriptures tell us to be still and know that He is God. It’s not about God showing up; it’s about us being open to His presence.
There is a scene at the end of the movie The Big Lebowski where Jeff Bridges’ character says, “The Dude Abides.” And then the narrator in the film says he takes comfort in that. It’s a weird, but incredibly poignant ending to the film. (Cathleen Falsani has written in great detail about this and also what she calls the gospel according to the Cohen Brothers. Check out her blog titled The Dude Abides.)
I kept thinking that God is like that. He is the Dude that Abides. The presence we can’t escape. The One who is near. How sweet are those moments when we become aware of this. How refreshing it is to know He is here with us now.
I’ve often wondered if life is a journey of awareness. The more we live, the more aware we become of that Abiding Dude, Jesus. It’s like what Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins once said: “I didn’t find Jesus. He’s been there the whole time.”
God is always with us.
He is the Presence.
Sometimes I need to remind myself of that.
Sometimes I need to remind myself that Jesus is the Dude that abides.