The Monday Test
If there ever was a practical test to see if I was abiding in and pursuing God’s presence, it would be evaluating my Mondays. Mondays for me generally signify extended meetings, lengthy inbox clearing, voicemail returns from the weekend, and outlining plans for the week. If there is a day of the week I’m tempted to work mechanistically, it’s Monday. If there is a day of the week I’m more prone to feeling numb to what’s going on around me at work, it’s Monday.
Knowing my Monday inclination over the years, I’ve tried several things to counter it. Without wasting your time on various gimmicks (as entertainining as they might sound), here’s what I’ve come to understand: anything outside of pursuing God’s presence will be short-lived or leave you feeling more frustrated in the end. Psychological mind games apart from the abiding work of God are a joke. Trying to focus on being happy only lasts so long. Pursuing God in the midst of all circumstances, fun and trivial, is the only thing that sustains.
Practicing His Presence
Now I know “pursuing God’s presence” can sound like an ethereal thought at times, so I think we must understand two basic truths: 1) God exists and His presence is real and 2) God is pursuable at all times and in all places. I addressed the first point in the last post providing a Scriptural basis for understanding God’s presence (Ps. 139; Ps.. 140; Ps. 16), so I want to turn our attention to the second. Being able to access God as a believer in Jesus is a profound truth that Paul makes clear in Ephesians 3:12: “we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.” Through faith we have access to God. Wow! Not only can we approach God, but we can approach Him in confidence. The weight of this truth must not be underestimated, especially for the full time student, employee, or stay-at-home mom.
On the Job, Yet in His Presence
If there is fullness of joy in God’s presence (Ps. 16:11), there’s no doubt I want to be in His presence in the daily routine of life. We talked last week about a simple practice exemplified by Brother Lawrence: spending time with God before work to meet with Him and allow Him to reorient our hearts. If there’s anything that will prepare us and train us to abide in His presence throughout the workday, it’s meeting with Him before we step foot into the classroom, office, or kitchen.
However, what do we do once this is a bedrock in our morning routine? The life of our friend, Brother Lawrence, provides great insight, yet again:
[Speaking of Brother Lawrence] When he began, he said to God with a filial trust, “O my God, since Thou art with me, and I must now, in obedience to Thy commands, apply my mind to these outward things, grant me the grace to continue in Thy Presence; and prosper me with Thy assistance. Receive all my works, and possess all my affections.” As he proceeded in his work, he continued his familiar conversation with his Maker, imploring His grace, and offering Him all his actions.
What was Brother Lawrence’s secret to pursuing His presence in the kitchen? His conversation with God never stopped. Lawrence was not burdened by the thought of ongoing prayer. Instead, He viewed prayer an opportunity to hear, learn, and obey God at a deeper level. He learned to commune with God in the most menial of times. The following passage is even more revealing:
It was observed, that even in the busiest times in the kitchen, Brother Lawrence still preserved his recollection and heavenly-mindedness. He was never hasty nor loitering, but did each thing in its turn with an even, uninterrupted composure and tranquility of spirit. “The time of work,” said he, “does not with me differ from the time of prayer. In the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great a tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the Blessed Supper.”
Wow. I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced this before! Papers flying across the room, e-mails showing up in my inbox almost unrestrainedly, people asking more of me than I can offer, discipleship appointements back-to-back, and then to think in that moment, “This is so peaceful. It’s almost as if I’m taking communion on Sunday.” Nope, never thought that before. However, I’m not discouraged. In fact, I’m encouraged! It sounds like Brother Lawrence tapped into a life of Psalm 16:11, living in the fullness of joy in God’s presence. In it all, there is hope. And He’s accessible.
Read Part 1 here.