Practicing the Presence of God

The Practice of the Presence of God

We often make heavy weather of finding God. Speaking as if he plays hide and seek with us, or he has rules about where or how we can meet him.

Here is a gem of a book that tells how a simple man in the seventeenth century gave up looking for help in books or spiritual practices and decided to explore God’s presence for himself. His heart’s desire was to give himself wholly to God and so he “began to live as if there was none but he and I in the world.” (page 31)

He felt that having a proper heart towards God would transform every act of “common business” into a medium for God’s love.  It is not what we do that matters but who we are as we do it.

The result was a long and challenging journey of transformation of himself from the inside out. He struggled with feeling unworthy and yet pressed on the explore the nature of God

I consider myself as the most wretched of men, full of sores and corruption, and who has committed all sorts of crimes against his King. Touched with a sensible regret, I confess to Him all my wickedness. I ask for forgiveness. I abandon myself in His hands that He may do what He pleases with me from chastising me, embraces me with love, makes me eat at His table, serves me with His own hands, gives me the key of His treasures; He converses and delights Himself with me incessantly, in a thousand and a thousand ways, and treats me in all respects as his favourite. (page 36)

Long before concepts like Mindfulness or de-cluttering became fashionable, Brother Lawrence followed his instinct and lived out a simple, uncluttered life. He read the bible and took the risk that it was true.  He acted on what he read. Learning was painful. He spent years disciplining his heart and mind to yield to God’s presence. He struggled, as we all do, with wandering thoughts.

The daily grind for Brother Lawrence was to serve in the kitchen of a Carmelite Priory in Paris. Despite his lowly position, his character was deeply attractive to those he met. His profound peace and wisdom brought people to seek his spiritual counsel.

In the end he described his life as one of “inexpressible sweetness” in the bosom of God (page 37).

What a great example of someone who followed the author of life to make the most of his life! We can learn a lot from him.

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