Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Week Twenty-Seven - The Only Person in the World

Beside the Well
               The experience of the Christian is unlike anything this world can offer.  The world screams for our attention.  God gives attention.  The world is crowded and noisy. God singles us out and gives us peace.  The world pulls us every which way.  God invites us to the single, narrow way.  The world presses and stresses.  God gives rest.  The world plunges headlong into turmoil. God orders our steps aright. 
               Bro Lawrence spoke of his soul being lifted up above all earthly matter.  He was at rest with God as His center and constant companion.  His soul was full of joy as he “feels that only God and he are in the world, with Him he holds unbroken converse, asking from Him the supply of all his needs, and finding in His Presence fullness of joy.” (p 77)
               And then he said, “All that passes without concerns the soul no more than a fire of straw, which the more it flares, the sooner burns itself out, and rarely indeed do the cares of this world ever intrude to trouble the peace that is within….” (p 78)
               I, too, have found there are times when it feels like I am the only one in the world God is noticing.  He is speaking privately and singularly to me.  I have his complete attention. But, oh, that my every moment were filled with the experience of this truth.  To see the cares of this life just go up in smoke.  To be constantly aware that God is particularly, individually, and purposefully with me, beside me, and listening to me.  I know this is true in my head, but, oh, to make it a part of my daily practice.  To make it more than head knowledge or even heart knowledge.  To be consistently functioning inside this truth.  To allow God to lift me up into His arms and speak peace to my soul—sweet communion.
               There are some special Scriptures that come to mind as I meditate on this thought.  Acts 17:78 “In him we live and move and have our being.” Philippians 1:21 “for to me, to live is Christ.” Colossians 2:10 “ye are complete in him.”  Isaiah 27:3 “I will water it every moment.“ Psalm 139:18 He thinks of me “more in number than the sand.” Acts 17:27 “he be not far from every one of us.” 
               The challenge I face today is to listen closer to the sound of His voice than the noise of the world around me.

Lawrence, Brother, Practicing the Presence of God and the Spiritual Maxims, Dover Publications, Mineola, New York, 2005.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Week Twenty-Eight - Ruts

Beside the Well
               There I was, resigned to ruts going through the motions of life with the same sad attitude.  Every day was a trudge through the mud with no hope of knocking off the clods clinging to my shoes.  Dishes waited to the washed.  Floors were marked with the trail of trips through the garden.  Scatter pillows lay strewn around the living room.  My to-do list was screaming for my attention leaving me feeling that doing these same things over and over was an exercise in futility.
               I went to my quiet place and turned to my Bible to search for answers.  Why do I feel this way?  How do I get out of this rut?  How do I knock off the things that are weighing me down and making me feel like I have been dragged through the dirt?  If Jesus came to give us life more abundantly, where is that life?  Where is that victorious overcoming?  Where is that peaceful rest?
               Oh, but when God answered me, I was not ready!  I found myself face to face with truth.  I was living life detached from the Vine. My to-do list had become my priority.  The life I was looking for was not found in the things around me, but in a relationship with my Saviour.  God’s word reminded me that attachment is more than a safety net or bungee cord.  It is meant to produce fruit.  It holds promise of answered prayer and glorification of the Father.  And the real cut was—these three precede my attainment of any real joy.  I was looking for temporal fun garnished with laughter and frivolity thinking it would lift me out of the ruts, but the way out was going to be through loving obedience.
               That wasn’t what I wanted to hear.  I wanted Christ to give me relief and make life easy—fun.  I wanted Him to make me happy without requiring anything on my part.  I wanted to be free to laugh and live without these repetitive ruts.  But life is real. 
               And so is He.  The only way to experience lasting joy in life is to grab hold of the Vine.  Through Him, strength and joy will flow.  Fruit will be produced and joy with be a part of my life.  My prayers will be answered and God will be glorified.  The joy I am seeking is found in the eternal—not the temporal.
               “Okay, so I am guilt of doing life as if it all depended on my strength.  I had detached myself from the Vine and the energy and direction it provides.  I hear you, Lord, so how do I start to look at life differently?” 
               He wasn’t far behind with the answer that question.  My sight needed adjusting.  “But thou. O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head” (Psalm 3:3).  “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from when cometh my help (Psalm 121:1).
               While I was looking down and around at all the mess and demands, I was found guilty again.  I was not looking up to where the real help could come.  I was taking the whole burden of life upon myself as if I had to solve all of life’s problems, meet all of life’s demands, and come out with a smile.  That’s not reality. 
               The practice of looking up was something I had learned before, but had failed to continue to practice.  I knew looking around with fear and worry was not obedience.  I needed to look up.  I needed to adjust my eyes above the temporal, horizontal plain.
               Instead of bowing my head in prayer, I can look up with my palms upward and open.  When I do my prayer walk, I can talk with God looking to the skies instead of the weeds along the pavement.  When I awake of a morning I can grab hold of the Vine and look up to Him before I start with my list of things to do, situations to handle, and frets of the day.  As I look up, my spirit is lifted from the drudgery of life into a special place—a place of comfort, assurance and hope.
               Suddenly, the day seems less daunting, hope is restored and I find a new zeal in everything.  Matter of fact, I always find the day goes much smoother and I enjoy my to-do list!  At the end of the day I crawl into bed giving God the glory and rest my head with a joyful and peaceful heart. 

               Maybe you are wandering around in the doldrums.  Grabbing hold of the Vine and adjusting your sights to a higher plain are two techniques worth considering.