Friday, January 16, 2015
Learn to find God in the frenzy
No one knows what Brother Lawrence looked like – but Christians across a broad range of traditions and spiritualities are familiar with his sayings from The Practice of the Presence of God (free on Kindle in the UK store).
Romans 8:14 NIV
Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God
YESTERDAY’S star guest Brother Lawrence, the lay brother who was a servant in the priory kitchen, did have actual conversations with God – while he was cooking, or scrubbing pots. (I do most of the washing up in our family, and I see this duty much more positively now.)
He said this: “I make it my business to persevere in His holy presence, wherein I keep myself by a simple attention and general fond regard to God, which I may call an ACTUAL PRESENCE of God… a habitual, silent and secret conversation with God, which often causes me joys and raptures inwardly… so great that sometimes… I am forced to moderate them and prevent their appearance to others.”
This is a bit more than finding a place of unusual peace where the noise of anxious thoughts is somehow stilled, or sensing God’s presence in a worship setting, or even a person being used in an extraordinary way to bring God’s presence. This is God, who is personal, interacting in the way that we do. We are made in His image. We talk and chat and share interests and hang out together – where did we inherit those traits from?
In our everyday relationships, people who know each other, care about each other and are engaged in common enterprises with each other, do a bit more than wave or nod – they speak to one another. And this is how God speaks to us – not just in a majestic down-from-the-pulpit kind of way, but intimately and personally, just as it is appropriate for us.
Preachers sometimes say complicated things but in my experience God does’t. He often speaks in disarmingly everyday terms (maybe He has nothing to prove?) and it can be on the level of “How are you doing?” Bear in mind, though, that “Fine, just fine…” might not be a satisfactory answer!
A bit like BBC News 24, God may keep repeating the same bulletin. At the moment I am talking to Him about something which for me involves exploration and movement. As a change-bringer, I do have a personal need of a certain level of ongoing change. But God is saying to me essentially: “Wait!” This word is being confirmed in what I am hearing through others as well. They express it in their own words but I’m getting the same message. So I am not about to go through a temporary traffic light, even if it seems to be stuck on red.
You don’t need to scrub pots or even recycle the teabags – just give God space in your life. The point is you can offer, and He can find, that space in the places that might look the most crowded. Religion says you ought to change gear, dress differently, do different things in a special place. That can be good sometimes as long as there is no “ought” about it. But God doesn’t need a special time and place and He is always as near as you let Him be.