Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Stepping Away from Busyness and Efficiency

While many of us want to live in the moment—and be present to God’s presence—our whole approach to life militates against such presence. Without a deep change inside, living in the "now" will always be just a romantic dream for us.

Busyness and efficiency are two of the false gods of contemporary culture. Socrates warned: Beware of the barrenness of a busy life. Our society today, however, has ignored that caution. In our attempt to have it all, we keep going faster and faster. The problem is that we run past more than we catch up to. In our greediness for life and experience, we actually miss out on so much of life.

Contemporary Christians have unwittingly fallen into the worship of the same false gods. No different than unbelievers around us, we pursue busyness and efficiency. It is not that hard work is wrong. However, when the hectic pace with which we approach our work consumes our every waking hour and distracts our thoughts, we are no long focused on God. If we hope to experience God to the fullest—and to be available to God in a profound way—we must step away from our pathetic activism.

How often we approach our daily work with stress and distraction. We blame our lack of time with God on our busy schedule, and we accuse our responsibilities for hindering our spiritual maturity.

However, “it is not your work that hinders you” from spiritual growth, asserts the great preacher, Johannes Tauler, “but rather the disordered way in which you work that hinders you. You fail to keep God clearly in your love, in your longing and in your heart. Thus you are scattered and distorted within, and God is not completely intrinsic to you. Truly, what hinders you is not your work or anything other than yourself.” [1]

We assume that it all depends on us, and that we need to work harder and longer to get everything done. However, Scripture tells that the fruitfulness of our labor depends on the Lord and that he gives us peace and rest:

Unless the Lord builds the house,
  its builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
  the watchmen stand guard in vain.
In vain you rise early and stay up late,
  toiling for the food you eat—
  for he grants sleep to those he loves. (Ps 127:1-2)

Let us cast our cares on the Lord all day long as we approach our work and responsibilities, and let us truly enter God’s rest!

1. Johannes Tauler Predigten: Vollständige Ausgabe, edited by Georg Hofmann (Freiburg: Herder, 1961), sermon 5, pp. 35-36. All translations from German are my own.

© 2012 Glenn E. Myers

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Present Obedience Opens Unseen Doors

Seldom do we see the significance of the present moment. From our perspective the daily tasks of life often seem mundane. Yet God is present, and he is at work. How often he is forging perseverance in our hearts! How often the Lord is building character in our lives and testing us, to see if we will truly obey him!

When we follow God’s leading, he then builds upon our often-hidden obedience of today as he works out his plans for tomorrow. We do not know what those plans may be. Often we have a guess, and sometimes he gives us a glimpse of what is ahead. Nevertheless, none of us really knows what God is planning. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,” says the Lord in Isaiah 55, “So are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts."

When we are faithful in little things, God opens bigger opportunities and greater responsibilities.

Jean-Pierre de Caussade describes it: “We must therefore allow each moment to be the cause of the next; the reason for what precedes being revealed in what follows, so that everything is linked firmly and solidly together in a divine chain of events. The world of ideas, imagination, argument no longer nourishes and sustains souls. They no longer see or know where they are going, no long depend on an effort of will to overcome the fatigue or endure the hardship of the journey. Everything happens in a profound sense of their own helplessness.” [1]

God is present in our least task. He is there far more than we realize in our loving service to others, especially in our least-favorite task! Faithfulness unnoticed by human eyes flings wide open the doors to God’s plans for my future.

[1] Jean-Pierre de Caussade, The Sacrament of the Present Moment, trans. Kitty Muggeridge (San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 1989), p. 21.

© 2012 Glenn E. Myers

Friday, May 4, 2012

God's Presence Permeating Everyday Life

You have graced the sky with the light
  of your glory, O Lord,
And breathed your goodness
  into all that surrounds me.
You have enveloped all of creation with your
  uncreated Beauty, O God,
And crowned the year with your bounty,
  meeting my every need!

Please open my eyes today, O Lord,
  to the wonder of your works all around me.
May I see your fingerprints on the events
  of my everyday life.
Let me appreciate your goodness and your care for me,
  cloaked in the garb of the mundane.
And may I spy your divine presence
  permeating the rhythm of my daily life!

Today my heart will exult in your brilliance,
  permeating the events that seem so small.
My mouth will declare your praises,
  for you pervade the space that surrounds me.
My whole being will bless you all day long, O Lord,
  for your presence fills the heavens and the earth!