A few years ago, if I had heard someone describe him or herself as “woke” I would have been tempted to correct their grammar. I don’t have a t-shirt admitting “I’m silently correcting your grammar,” but I do it. Yes, I do know what it means, but I’m still a bit puzzled by the whole concept, mostly because it seems to be a way to look down on those who don’t share the same opinions.
I would rather describe myself as awake. C.S. Lewis, in Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer, said, “We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito. And the incognito is not always hard to penetrate. The real labour is to remember, to attend. In fact, to come awake. Still more, to remain awake.”
This is what practicing God’s presence is – being awake, aware, cognizant – of him, who he is, how he is working and creating, his love and how he wants us to participate with him in loving others. I often pray God will keep me aware of him as I go through my day because I know how easy it is to become distracted and let my eyes stray from gazing at my Savior. Brother Lawrence practiced his presence when he peeled potatoes. For me, washing dishes has become my time to come back from distractions and focus on God.
Being awake to our incognito God is, to me, a much better way to go through life, with eyes and heart completely open to the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Treasure hunting for gems of grace is a little like prospecting for gold, but without the trip to a river or gold mine. It’s not difficult, as it seems the moment I start looking, God reveals what he wants me to find.
A gem he gave me last week is one I have seen before, but he reminded me just to make sure I get it. We are never alone. He is always with us in everything we do. The added gem is that even our “decision” to follow Christ, both initially and daily, is something we do with him, in him and as a participation in his life. He calls us to himself, but he doesn’t leave us on our own. Knowing this really takes off the pressure.
All of life is participation in his life – in him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28, NIV). Everything we are, think, do and say are in him and with him. For all of us independent westerners, this may take some getting used to, but we don’t have to worry about that either. Jesus is our constant companion in every step and through every challenge.
Last time I mentioned a quotation about being exited beyond imagination, waiting for what God would do in the coming day. I think about that every morning, waking up with the prayer, what do you want to show me today, Lord? But I realized as the week went on that God wasn’t just dropping exciting things in my lap. I guess I was hoping, but I forgot that’s not how he does things.
Participating in life with Jesus is more like a treasure hunt. I grab his hand, listen carefully and keep my eyes open to the hints and clues he drops. But I do have to look and listen. Getting distracted, which is all too easy, probably causes me to miss a lot. Reading the Bible, praying, meditating and keeping myself focused on Jesus, all help me keep up with him.
I just re-read Brother Lawrence’s Practicing the Presence of God and I’ve been trying to remember to practice his presence throughout the day. I think of Brother Lawrence having an intimate conversation with God while peeling potatoes and my routine tasks become adventures rather than mundane chores. And when you’re on an adventure with him, you never know what might happen.
I don’t know about you, but around here, every day seems pretty much the same as the one before. It’s like someone said, maybe we should bring back underwear embroidered with the days of the week, so we know what day it is. I don’t have undies like that, but we have established a routine of having the same meals each week: Taco Tuesday, Fish Wednesday and Pizza Thursday. It gives us a routine and something to look forward to. My husband makes most of our lunches, but I’m in charge on pizza day. We all love my sourdough crust.
It can be difficult to keep time with God from feeling the same every day too. It’s important to try to keep it fresh, continuing to learn, grow and know God better every day. This quotation from Bill Volkman (in the book, Spiritual Disciplines Companion by Jan Johnson) gave me a shot in the arm so to speak: “The longer I walk in faith and acknowledge my beloved Spouse by waiting on Him in silence, the more I ‘hear’ Him and sense His leading in the details of everyday life. Now, instead of agonizing over every situation, I rest in Him, aware of his involvement in the myriad of daily decisions, and excited beyond imagination about each new day as it unfolds.”
“Excited beyond imagination” – what a way to begin each day. I must admit, I rarely feel that excited, but thinking about who God is, how he interacts with us and his desire for union and communion with us, truly is something to be energized and enthusiastic about. It’s more exciting even than homemade sourdough crust pizza.
Loneliness has always been a problem in our society. We don’t have the networks of family and friends people had even in the last century. And now with social media and cell phones seemingly growing out of people’s arms, we have even fewer personal connections and more loneliness. The stay-at-home orders haven’t helped either, though some have been trying to connect more online.
If you’ve been reading my blog over the past few weeks, you may remember what Jan Johnson said in one of the sessions of the Trusting God retreat. She said it’s never just me and the pipe, meaning whatever we’re facing, we’re not alone. Jesus is always there to help. I don’t recall anyone mentioning loneliness when attendees chimed in with their situations, but it certainly should have made the list.
Christian Kettler, in an interview on gci.org, talked about the vicarious humanity of Christ and how we don’t take it seriously enough. In his humanity, he has taken on our despair, our doubt and our anxiety. When Jesus prayed on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Kettler says he was praying on our behalf, taking our despair to the Father and in doing so, healing it. Kettler says, “We are not alone in that despair. We are not alone in our aloneness. We may still be lonely, but we’re not lonely alone. Jesus is lonely with us.”
How encouraging to anyone who has ever felt alone or lonely (I’m pretty sure that includes all of us), to know we aren’t lonely alone. Knowing this means we don’t ever have to feel lonely again.
P.S. This is my 500th post! Thanks to everyone who’s been reading and supporting me these past several years. Love and blessings to all!