It all started with me reading, “Practicing the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence. Feeling a prompting from the Holy Spirit, I picked up this little, unassuming volume and little did I know the impact it would have on my life.
I’m at home a good deal and I find that my focus is so horizontal rather then on Christ. My thought life is constantly consumed with the future or the past, or analyzing the opinions of man, or being fearful of circumstances. As I read Brother Lawrence’s words, I was convicted with the reality of my own life. I was not “worshiping Him the oftenest I could…. keeping my mind in His holy presence and recalling it as often as I found it wandering from Him…”. I was not giving Him every thought, every position of my heart, every fear and every desire.
The conviction of the Lord was so beautifully strong and sweet as I read through this book… it really changed my viewpoint on life. Every second of the day our mind is thinking about something, either thoughts that are Christ oriented, or thoughts that are not. I WANT to “I walk before God simply, in faith, with humility and with love; and I apply myself diligently to do nothing and think nothing which may displease Him…”
I can tell the Holy Spirit I love Him as I clean greasy dishes, or whisper my prayers to Him as I scrub the toilets! I can pour out my fears and frustration as I clean the refrigerator, and give him a smile as I change the trash. He is always there listening…He is even sitting there next to me as I peel cucumbers or chop vegetables.
I can practice patience as I teach my little brother to brush his teeth, and show love as I teach him to read. Faithfulness can be cultivated as I diligently fold laundry or make dinner. Although these simple tasks are expected of me, I can go the extra mile and perform them with extra care and diligence. Kindness can be displayed as I listen and give my siblings my complete attention. Self-control is stewarded as I guard my tongue against angry words of frustration. When I read stories to my little brother I can practice the gentleness of Christ, and even as I sing him to sleep I get the opportunity to speak and pray into his destiny.
“I know that for the right practice of it, the heart must be empty of all other things because God will possess the heart alone. As He cannot possess it alone without emptying it of all besides, so, neither can He act there and do in it what He pleases, unless it be left vacant to Him.”
It is so hard for me to empty myself and let God lead. Sometimes I feel like I can control things better then He can, but when I act in this way my day always ends up in tears of frustration. The amazing thing is that even when I shut myself in my closet and cry, He is there with me…ever caring, ever present, my help in time of need. He gently reminds me that I must cast all my burdens upon Him and let Him gracefully lead me into the paths of righteousness. He’s teaching me to submit, even when I don’t feel like it, and teaching me to smile amidst the pain. How true it is that: “…perseverance produces character; and proven character, hope;” (Romans 4:5).
I am the stone and He is the carver. Although it may be painful as He chisels away my flesh, I must learn to shut my eyes and trust Him, knowing with full confidence that He is creating in me the beauty of Christ. As Brother Lawrence would say, “I desire Him to make His perfect image in my soul and render me entirely like Himself”.
“2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. 9The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”(James 1:2-12)
Oh the joy of sweet surrender or the peace of pure abandonment…