this is what it usually feels like when I attempt to practice His presence..be encouraged when you read below that Brother Lawrence struggled with this same thing…
Yesterday. Sunday afternoon. I have been trying to take every opportunity when Maggie is at home to “be present” with her – I asked her if she wanted me to read aloud to her – she curled up next to me on my bed while I read aloud “Northanger Abbey” by Jane Austen. During a particularly long description of the heroine’s thoughts in one scene, she sighed and fell asleep, her head on my shoulder. I wasn’t about to move – these times are too rare now. I reached as far as I could to my side and was able to find my nightstand – and took the top book, which was the only one I could reach. And this little book was it. “Drats! That’s not what I was hoping for – why didn’t I have something jucier to read?” – I had skimmed through the beginning previously and felt that this guy wasn’t even in my league, from what others who were around him said about him. Maybe the book was a classic because so many wished they could emulate this kind of thing – I liked the part that talked about how happy he was doing dishes all the time – but it seemed unrealistic for my low level of maturity. Since I now was a captive audience by virtue of Maggie’s head, I decided to go to the back section of the book – his letters – this is where I find people are more real, vs. when others are praising them to the sky. And…well, once again I marvel at the Father’s tender care of me – for there was manna here that was rich and completely satisfying. I pulled out 16 principles from 15 letters of his – worth thinking on, really.
Principle #1: It was not easy to get to this place. It was not quick to get to this place. It was in fact, PAINFULLY DIFFICULT.
Principle #2: His mind DID wander, but when it did he didn’t trouble himself about it.
“I worshiped Him the oftenest that I could…I found no small pain in this exercise, and yet I continued it, …without troubling or disquieting myself when my mind had wandered…” (p.31,2)
Principle #3: After 30 years he still does this imperfectly.
“Such has been my common practice (for 30 years), and though I have done it very imperfectly, yet I have found great advantages by it.” (p.36)
Principle #4: Even after all these years, he never stopped feeling he was the worst – the very worst of men…He simply confessed, and confessed, and abandoned himself to “the King”
“I consider myself as the most wretched of men, full of sores and corruption…with a sensible regret, I confess to Him all…I ask for His forgiveness, I abandon myself into His Hands” (p.36)
Principle #5: He, by faith, then CHOSE to view the King as then embracing him with LOVE. THIS is what he meditated on – THIS was his secret! Not how much he meditated, but on WHAT and WHO he meditated on.
“The King… very far from chastising me, embraces me with love, makes me eat at his table…converses and delights Himself with me incessantly, in a thousand and one ways, and treats me in all respects as His favorite. It is thus I consider myself from time to time in His presence.”. (p. 36,7) (note to self: this is not pride – pride is saying, “O, He couldn’t feel that way about me, I don’t deserve it, blah blah blah”. Pride says, “O, you must earn His favor.” Humility says, “O my, I have His favor, though I am so wretched!”
Principle #6: He didn’t expect God to instantly answer requests he made, NOR did he judge God’s love for him by whether He responded or not. He recognized God would come in HIS own time.
“He will come in His own time, and when you least expect it. Hope in Him more than ever..” (p.39)
The next is one of the MOST IMPORTANT PRINCIPLES FOR ME:
Principle #7: Even a little remembrance of God is very acceptable to God – again, it’s not the amount of time or how many times a day, it’s WHAT and WHO that matters.
“A little remembrance of God, one act of inward worship, though upon a march, and a sword in hand, are prayers, which however short, are very acceptable to God; and far from lessening a soldier’s courage in occasions of danger, they best serve to fortify it.”( p.40)
(I like this word picture – I can picture marching along, and suddenly I am aware I am marching into serious danger. Instead of my normal frantic looking around to see when God will show up, I simply believe He is there, and I salute Him as He passes me by, and goes to take the front command post.)
O.K., I’ll finish later – family movie night calls…