God does so much more than “show up”

I have seen a particular phraseology going around recently that bothers me:

“God really showed up.” “Pray that God shows up in a big way.” “I hope God shows up for this event.”

If you have said or written this, please don’t take offense or think I am fussing at you. I can’t remember for sure where I have seen it. I’m speaking in generalities because I am starting to see this more and more and I want people to realize what it sounds like.

It bothers me for a few reasons.

1. God does not “show up.” He is omnipresent. (See Psalm 139:5-12, Jeremiah 23:23-24.)

2. Making our plans and then hoping God “shows up” is going about things backwardly. We should be seeking His guidance beforehand and all along the way.

3. The phrase “show up” seems to indicate the person wasn’t really expected, or at least his attendance was iffy. “I invited Tom, but I am not sure he’ll show up.”

4. The phrase also seems to indicate the person showing up took the invitation casually and just decided to “show up” — maybe on a whim, maybe because he couldn’t find any better options.

I think I know what people mean when they want God to “show up”:

“I hope God really blesses this event/situation in such a way that people see it was something only He could do.”

“I want God’s presence to be manifested in a way that touches people’s hearts and draws them to Him.”

“I pray God’s power will be evident.”

Why not say it that way? It’s more accurate, more reverential, and more glorifying to God.

Here are some Scriptural examples of those desires:

“Help me, O LORD my God: O save me according to thy mercy: That they may know that this is thy hand; that thou, LORD, hast done it.” Psalm 109:26-27.

“O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.” Psalm 63:1-2.

“This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.” John 2:11.

“Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” John 9:3.

“And [Moses] said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.” Exodus 33:18.

“That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever.” Joshua 4:24.

“And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.” I Kings 18:36-37.

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13 thoughts on “God does so much more than “show up”

  1. I’ve heard that phrase most of my life, and you’ve made some good points. I think it might be a more southern thing, because you hear it there in relation to a church service going from a “normal” one to one where people are giving testimonies and praising God, shouting, that kind of thing (in my experience). Since those kinds of services are not very common in most areas (Canadians would have a heart attack! LOL), I think you would hear that phrase more often in the South. When you think about it, it doesn’t make sense to say that God showed up at that kind of service and not in your “regular” service – kind of tells on you, don’t think?! 🙂

  2. My grandparents and parents have taken issue with the same phrase and with the overuse of the word awesome. Thanks for saying what needed to be said…and yet giving people “the out” by understanding what they were “meaning” to say! I love that you are sweet but honest!

    • Barbara — I must say I don’t remember ever hearing that phrase, but i reacted to reading it on your blog just as you reacted to it. We are the ones who do or don’t “show up”. God is always present. If we can’t see him, we’re not looking correctly.

  3. Very good post, Barbara. So well thought-out and then put to words.
    I feel much the same way about the word “phenomenal”. It is sooo overused. It seems to have taken the place of “awesome”. I almost cringe when I hear someone use it.
    Maybe it’s just me? :-/

  4. There’s a song that we sing and one of the lines in it is: “He may not be there when you want Him to but He’ll be there right on time…” I know that He’s there ALL the time but I understand exactly, and identify with, what the song is saying. I’ve heard the phrase “show up” used as well and have often thought it was more than just a bit in apt. In terms of services and God “showing up” I think it’s more a matter of what we put into it- are we really worshipping from our hearts or just going through the motions? God’s there but are we?

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    • I gave some suggestions above. My point (or one point at least) was that God is omnipresent — He is everywhere all the time and doesn’t just “show up” every now and then.

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