Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Cultivating the Presence of God

Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.”

One morning as I was reading Psalm 32 and meditating on this verse, I felt the Lord’s prodding – be God-oriented instead of merely being activity-oriented and result-oriented. What do I mean by ‘God-oriented’? I believe it is to ensure we are not being overwhelmed by our daily to-do list and pace of life to the extent that we overlook our encounters with God in the small minutes of our daily life.

In ‘The Practice of the Presence of God’, Brother Lawrence said, “I make it my business to rest in His holy presence which I keep myself by a habitual, silent and secret conversation with God. This often causes me joys and raptures inwardly.” He desired a lifestyle where he intentionally and consciously cultivated a deeper awareness of God’s activity in his lives. This, for anyone, is an excellent desire to cultivate and so I asked our glorious Lord to help me live this out in 2016.

It involves habitually building in small pauses and breaks in the daily routines to turn and re-tune the heart back to God. Before we pick up the phone, we breathe a prayer to the Lord to help us listen. As concerns pop up, we place those concerns in God’s hands before moving on to handle them. As we fulfil our daily tasks and responsibilities, we talk it over with God and dedicate each task to Him before we begin and after we complete it. When interruptions happen, we ask Jesus for grace to be like him because he always had time for people who questioned and interrupted him. We can set our mobile devices to alert us several times throughout the day so that we intentionally pay attention to God and live in his presence. It may be just as short as five minutes for reading a short Psalm, praying or even simply revelling in his goodness. I am sure you will have other suggestions to lay alongside these practices.

Ultimately, the desire to develop this awareness of Christ’s presence is to see God grow spiritual fruit in our lives. The fruit could be keeping company with Jesus through the day, receiving each daily moment as God-given. It could be learning a new lifestyle of letting go of our need to control, to compete. Instead we grow in awareness of our constant need of God. We learn to rest in his presence so that we see him even in those situations which needlessly sap our energy, irritate and anger us. We will reap the promise of Ps 32:8 that he will instruct us of the direction we ought to go as we orient our lives with Christ at the centre. I am very sure God will grow even more fruit other than these as we continue to intentionally set time aside regular time for him daily.

However, it is important that we remember that the spiritual discipline is about personal relationship. It is not just an activity embedded with ritual and strategy. It arises out of a love for God that desires to live in a deeper union with Christ. Ultimately, it is about our life being a love letter to Christ, an expression that we love him and desire to remain wired to him alone throughout the day.

May our glorious Lord Jesus be your great reward in 2016 as you remain in him and may you see the fruit of his tender care as you walk with him.

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