Friday, January 31, 2014

Meeting God in Ordinary Time: The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence

A classic of spiritual formation, appreciated by Protestants and Catholics alike, Brother Lawrence’s little volume on practicing God’s presence all day long is a gem. Recently I went through it again and wrote down some quotes.

Heart and Mind Fully Focused on God
“I still believe that all spiritual life consists of practicing God’s presence, and that anyone who practices it correctly will soon attain spiritual fulfillment. To accomplish this, it is necessary for the heart to be emptied of everything that would offend God. He wants to possess your heart completely. Before any work can be done in your soul, God must be totally in control. There is no sweeter manner of living in the world than continuous communion with God.” (p 29)

“I honestly cannot understand how people who claim to love the Lord can be content without practicing His presence. My preference is to retire with Him to the deepest part of my soul as often as possible. When I am with Him there, nothing frightens me.” (p 31)

Punctuating the Day with Glances toward God
“In the beginning of this practice, it would not be wrong to offer short phrases that are inspired by love, such as “Lord, I am all Yours,” or “Lord, use me according to your will.” (p 70)

“During your meals or during any daily duty, lift your heart up to Him, because even the least little remembrance will please Him. You don’t have to pray out loud; He’s nearer than you can imagine.” (p 33)

God Gently Calls Us Back When We Are Distracted
“My day-to-day life consists of giving God my simple, loving attention. If I’m distracted, He calls me back in tones that are supernaturally beautiful. If you think of me, remember the grace with which God has blessed me, rather than my typically human ineptitude. My prayers consist of a simple continuation of this same exercise. Some-times I imagine that I’m a piece of stone, waiting for the sculptor. When I give myself to God in this way, He begins sculpting my soul into the perfect image of His beloved Son. At other times, I feel my whole mind and heart being raised up into God’s presence, as if, without effort, they had always belonged there.” (p 38)

What a wonderful reminder this is to commune with God all day!

© 2013 Glenn E. Myers

Saturday, January 18, 2014

God of the Thundercloud!

Public Domain

He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind.
-Psalm 18:10

This past week a blizzard raged across the Midwest. As I had my devotions that morning in a comfortable room, I became present to the moment. First, I was filled with thankful for a warm house—and a short one-mile commute to work. Then I asked myself questions to become even more aware of my surroundings and present to the moment: What do I see? What do I hear? The second question led to a overwhelming time of reflection.

What do I hear?
I hear driving wind outside—a blizzard of wind and snow is pounding the Midwest. Hearing the snow and sleet pelt the windows, Scripture came pouring into my mind:

He hurls down his hail like pebbles. Who can withstand his icy blast?
-Psalm 147:17

Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O Lord my God, You are very great;
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
Covering Yourself with light as with a cloak,
Stretching out heaven like a tent curtain.
He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters;
He makes the clouds His chariot;
He walks upon the wings of the wind;
He makes the winds His messengers,
Flaming fire His ministers.
-Psalm 104:1-4 NASB

I began to reflect on the Lord’s awesome power. Here is what I wrote in my journal:

Our God is a God of power and terrible might! Who can stand before you, O Lord?
O God of power and might, go before me and lead the way. O Wild One, rule my life as you reign with splendor in the earth! Let me not try to domesticate you and circumscribe you, O Lord, in my petty understanding of you. Rather, let my limited image of you be shattered by your majesty, your pounding waves and blasting wind. Let me know you—and worship you—in your power and strength, glory and holiness!

Awesome God
That morning I was caught up by the awesomeness of our God. Coloring my whole day, these reflections have remained with me all week. Let me close with the words of Psalm 29:5-9:

The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
     the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon….
The voice of the LORD strikes with flashes of lightning.
The voice of the LORD shakes the desert;
     the LORD shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
The voice of the LORD twists the oaks
     and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple all cry, "Glory!"

© 2013 Glenn E. Myers

Monday, January 6, 2014

Epiphany: Lessons from the Magi

Carver Park, MN

“When [the Magi] saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. They opening their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.” –Matthew 2:10-11

Epiphany is the celebration of Christ’s appearing to the whole world. Celebrated on January 6, this day in the church calendar remembers Jesus’ being revealed to the Magi from the East. Not only the nation of Israel, but now all peoples had the savior revealed to them.

The Magi are a wonderful model of people with a heart after God.

Attentive to the Light

The Magi were attentive. Not only were their physical eyes open, but, even more, the eyes of their hearts were open to God. For the Magi, the star was clearly present in the night sky, but they would have missed it had they been busy and preoccupied with other things. Only because they were attentive did they see the sign God had provided.

How can we, like the Magi, recognize the indicators of God’s breaking into our lives? If we are so busy that we are spinning in circles, we will be inattentive to what the Lord is weaving in the events of our lives. Only if we continually bring our focus back to him—attentive to big and little manifestations of his love and presence—will we see the light that God has for us.

Actively Seeking God
Further, the Magi made the effort to seek God. They needed to leave Persia, or wherever in the East they lived, to take a long journey following the light they had been given. They also inquired in Jerusalem. While God took the initiative of revealing the star to them, they needed to respond by seeking him. Only then were they supernaturally led and supernaturally protected as God warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.

The beginning of a new year is a wonderful opportunity for us to seek God afresh in our lives. Whether we are wanting to know God for the first time in our lives—or whether we have walked with him for many decades—we all need fresh seasons of pursuing the Lord, waiting on him, and listening to his voice.

Worshiping Christ the Lord
Finally, the Magi worshiped Jesus. They humbled themselves and bowed down before him in worship. In addition, they brought valuable gifts to him—gifts worthy of a king.

Here again the Magi set a clear example for us. This season of Epiphany—and this new year—are opportunities to worship the Lord at a new and deeper level. Worship requires that we humble ourselves before him, and one very meaningful way to do that is to literally bow or kneel or prostrate ourselves in prayer and worship. Our time of worship before him can be in silent adoration; it can be softly in song; it can be pouring our heart out to him in prayer.

Likewise, we can bring him gifts. These offerings include our time and talent, gifts of money and resources, sacrifices of love and service. Whatever we have to present to our King, let it be the very best that we have!

© 2014 Glenn E. Myers