In the 1960's, our school day would often begin with Bible reading and prayer, and yes, this was the public school. But even before the Bible reading or prayer, the teacher would begin the day with roll call.
Without looking up from the list of names, the teacher would call out the first child's name. The student's response was usually, "Here." This would be repeated over and over as the names were called out in alphabetical order. Then the unthinkable would happen...the pattern would be broken when a child would respond, "Present."
Seeing that my name was near the end of the list, Beverly Smith. I now had a HUGH decision to make. Would I be "here" or "present?"
"Here" was simple, uncomplicated, but being "present" made a power-statement to both the teacher and the class. I am all in and ready to work. Bring on the spelling words, oral reading and fractions. Because I'm present!
As my nine-year-old mind continued mulling over my choices, suddenly I heard my name called, "Beverly Smith."
I panicked. My eyes were the size of saucers. My options ran through my mind at lightening speed, but I was unable to speak a single word.
The teacher glanced up over his reading glasses. He looked directly at me and said, "Here." Directing his focus back on the attendance list, he checks the box next to my name and continued calling roll.
NO! I screamed in my mind. I'm not here. I'm present! But the moment had pasted. The die was cast. On that day, I was here. I daydreamed about what might had been, if only I had been present!
The Here vs. Present dilemma can be seen in many aspects of life. In relationships, on the job, even in our spiritual lives. I understand only to well what it means to be Here vs. Present. In my heart, I want to be present--available and all in, but sometimes my actions answer with a loud, "Here!"
I don't hold any grudge against that teacher who said I was "Here" 51 years ago. I know people are human and capable of misjudging the actions of other, but not Jesus. In Psalm 139:7-10 the Word gives us this promise.
"Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me." (NKJV)
I'm extremely thankful when it was me who called the attendance role so many years ago, I called this name, "Jesus!" And His response was without hesitation, "Present, now and forever!"