I write this in the warm but tired afterglow of my eldest daughter’s wedding. As father of the bride it was my ceremonial duty to walk my daughter down the aisle. At the end of the day it was my practical duty to oversee the clear-up of the reception venue. In between times it was my joy to tell her how wonderful she is, and my choice to deal with an unfortunate misunderstanding with the venue management. All in all, it was my delight and my duty to be there, to be there in an active and supportive way, but it was her event and it was wonderful.
God repeatedly promises to ‘be there’ for us. From Genesis to Revelation, the promise is repeated, “I will be with you”. Indeed, God’s name - Yahweh - (which is sadly airbrushed from most English translations) carries an implicit promise of God’s constant presence. It is no surprise to note Jesus’ parting words to his disciples in Matthew’s gospel: “I will be with you always, to the end of the age."
The idea of God's presence, on its own, could be either a promise or a threat. At times God has been presented as one who is watching us constantly, meticulously recording our every mistake. That is not a reassuring presence and is not a helpful image of God.
Jesus spoke of God as being our loving father - like the father of the bride. He is walks silently beside us when we are nervous; he praises us when we do well; he gently directs us when we are worrying about things; he works discretely behind the scenes to help us out; and he willingly clears up our mess at the end of the day.
In a formal way at the wedding I let my daughter go, to live her life with her lovely husband, equipped with the principles of her upbringing, and reassured that I will be there for her whenever wanted or needed. I suspect God has a similar approach. He doesn’t micro-manage us. He shares his principles with us and then lets us go into our lives, reminding us that he will always be there to share our joys and our struggles whenever wanted or needed.