Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Practicing His Presence

Most books I don't put in the realm of life changing. Maybe week altering or habit tweaking, but not life changing.

This one is . . . life changing.

The Practice of the Presence of God

Innocently, I opened the book and began to read. I always have a book by my bedside and had recently skimmed Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda, and this was the next on my list, simple as that. But, this book would be no easy reading. Not that the writing or vocabulary presents a challenge, but the challenge of its message leads where I don't even know if I can go, not without a lot of supernatural intervention.

Brother Lawrence lived nearly 400 years ago and walked closely in God's footprints. The insight that he gained through that humble, holy walk came together after his death as a book entitled The Practice of the Presence of God. Over the years people have published, and republished, arranged, and rearranged his teachings, to the benefit of countless Christians.

The particular edition that I have includes letters from a missionary to the Philippines, Frank Laubach. Laubach shares transparently the challenge of living in God's presence, how mind altering the awareness of God is, and the difference between a day lived in His presence and a day lived for himself.

I put down the book after reading just a few pages, because I realized how much my selfish self wanted control of most of my day still. Giving in to God means not letting emotions run away with me, ever. It means not wasting time on triviality. It means loving constantly, praying unceasingly, and giving endless thanks.

It took a couple days to prepare myself for this level of devotion, and I realize it will continue as a life long journey toward a walk more close to Him. I always want to follow Him, but have not made it a practice to pause throughout the day to come back to that. While I may think about Him and His Word often, this book has challenged me to make it more consistent.

He started with every fifteen minutes. Four times an hour he practiced returning mentally to the presence of God, renewing his mind. Amazing how far your mind can travel in fifteen minutes.

After a few days, I still often step further from the path than I would like to admit. I still forget to even reset my thinking every fifteen minutes. This is not a habit or practice that clicks overnight, but I must continue on.

Each step in obedience to Him, each thought, each word, each moment spent, each breath given in worship and faithfulness to Him and His call to follow.

Not for the strong, but for the sinners saved by grace; not for the quiters, but for those ready to die to self; not for the victors, but for the downtrodden ready to try a higher path. I still don't feel ready for this challenge either, but it's not mine to claim, it's His. His presence.

Ready to relinquish control? You might find this book at your library, and most likely at your Christian book store. Or, to read this life changing book you can find it free online at Project Gutenburg. If you need an even easier route to this treasure, you can listen to the audio book free online as well.


Courtney said...

I have the brother Laurence book and a book by Laubach (Letters by a Modern Mystic). I am encouraged by your post to read these. I tend to fall in the category of "thinking about God a lot throughout the day" but not in the frequent intimacy these books detail.

5intow said...

Good point, Courtney, that there is that difference as well between thinking about God and "practicing his presence." Those letters from Laubach would be at least part of the ones included in the book that I have.

I can't say I thought much before about my physical actions in relation to my obedience to Christ. What does He want me to type? Who does He want me to hug? Where does He want me to look? It has really started to change the way I think.