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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Practice His Presence

Sometimes the busy seasons of life can leave us feeling frazzled and overwhelmed. This week our team is getting ready for our District Women’s Directors Seminar and General Council in Phoenix. This is such a busy time in our office—it seems we have 1,000 details to tie up. And I have needed to remind myself several times to “practice the presence of God.”

Let me explain…

When I was about 27 years old, someone gave me a copy of the book, The Practice of the Presence of God. It describes the journey of Brother Lawrence, a Frenchman who served as a cook in a 17th century monastery. His desire was to live every moment with an overwhelming awareness of God’s presence.

This may sound strange, but I consider Brother Lawrence to be a mentor. (Don’t worry, I don’t see or hear him! I’ve just learned so much from his writings.) His life challenges me to enjoy a closer relationship with God—one more intimate than I ever thought possible.

I’m sure I don’t yet understand the depth of this reality—living continually aware of God’s presence. But the little I have learned has completely transformed my life.

When I’m not living aware of God, my flesh wants to react and respond in ways that are anything but pleasing to Him. I easily become distracted, frustrated, fearful, and overwhelmed with the responsibilities and cares of life. And my words and behavior are always disappointing.

However, if I make every effort to be aware of God’s presence, my responses are completely different. When I am aware of Him, I can rely on Him for whatever I need in each moment—whether it is wisdom, insight, strength, love, or patience.

It may seem like an overwhelming assignment, to be consciously aware of God’s presence in our busy, distracted lives. But I have learned from Brother Lawrence that you can have an ongoing “secret conversation of the soul” with God in the busiest moments.

Listen to what was said about this mentor of mine:

“As Brother Lawrence had found such an advantage in walking in the presence of God, it was natural for him to recommend it earnestly to others; but his example was a stronger inducement than any arguments he could propose. His very countenance was edifying, such a sweet and calm devotion appearing in it as could not but affect the beholders. And it was observed that in the greatest busyness in the kitchen he still preserved his recollection and heavenly mindedness. He was never hasty nor loitering, but did each thing in its season, with an even, uninterrupted composure and tranquility of spirit. ‘The time of busyness,’ said he, ‘does not with me differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and chatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees in prayer.’”[i]

The first time I read The Practice of the Presence of God, I was young mother of two very active little boys. I discovered that I could wipe runny noses, referee disputes, and make peanut butter sandwiches for the Lord. It completely changed how I approached my day—I wanted to do everything with excellence. And I grew to depend on Him more every day. It was so exciting to realize that He was right there to give me everything I needed to be a mom.

This truth is for us all—no matter what our day demands, we can grow to enjoy God’s presence and possess the inner tranquility He offers.

[i] Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God (Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour and Company, Inc., 1993, 37-38.

1 comment:

  1. i needed to see and read this today. i need this book. everything you wrote spoke to where i want to be. i'm living in a hectic time of my life. i have circumstances around me i can't control and yet even still i allow them to affect me. thanks for sharing this. if for no one else.....it was for me. :) love you kerry.