Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:2
December 12, 2017
I’m kind of enjoying writing in this style of “Practicing His Presence.” I can look back and read these entries and see how my journey is going. Lately I haven’t been doing very well, at least spiritually speaking. I’ve been having a great time in the natural and doing very well. I just haven’t had that closeness with God that I had a couple of weeks ago.
When I say that, I don’t want you to picture that I’ve had some sort of euphoric experience. All I’m talking about is this conscious awareness of His nearness. It is so peaceful and the result is perfect contentment. I don’t worry, get really upset, or even in a hurry. What I definitely don’t do is wish for time to go by, and unfortunately, I’ve been doing a good bit of that with Christmas break approaching. I’m wondering this morning what is going on with me. Lately, I seem to only have this perfect clarity and this sense of His nearness in these really early hours of the morning while the majority of the world around me sleeps.
I think God is teaching me that the best life this world offers, without Him, is unfulfilling. I could have told you that for the past 15 or 20 years. But, there is a difference in knowing about something and having that personal experience. It’s like the difference in sympathizing and empathizing. If I’m sympathizing, I can imagine, but if I’m empathizing, I’ve been there and I know from experience. I’m kind of like George Bailey; I get focused so much on the smaller, temporary, mundane cares of this life, and don’t see that it really is a wonderful life.
Still, I get kind of frustrated that I’m not consistently able to do this simple act of bringing God to my mind. Yet, I read Hebrews 2:2 this morning and He sheds light on a huge part of my problem. Here I am thinking I should be able to focus my mind on Him wherever I am and whenever I want. I see those I’s, and that glaring “me” in the last sentence. There is still this element of religion in me that wants to do good enough on my own to earn God’s trust, favor, and even His Presence.
This brings me this morning to a beautiful place of repentance and realization: I don’t have to author my own salvation. In fact, I couldn’t even if I wanted to. Therefore, with God’s help, I will return to simplicity today. I will take the focus off of me and simply walk with Him as far into this day as I can. No wishing the time away, no trying to enjoy temporary pleasures apart from Him, and certainly no trying to do this life on my own without the awareness of His Presence.
Last week I wrote about walking with God. I learned last week that I have a problem of walking fast. It is such an unfortunate habit. Only God knows how many times I’ve walked in front of my wife going into places. Why didn’t I slow down and just enjoy being with her? Now I see myself doing the same thing with God. I’m walking at a pace to get stuff done instead of walking at a pace to enjoy Him along side of me regardless of my task at hand. It’s amazing how much more productive I am at the slower pace with that awareness of Him right there with me.
I’m thinking I would like to walk and spiritually pull weeds today. I’ve regressed in the parable of the sower that Jesus taught. Here He speaks of me right now: Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. (Luke 8:14) I have been given a great seed that will produce a harvest of His Presence, not just for me, but for all I come in contact with. The last thing I want is for the cares, riches, and pleasures of this life to choke Him out.
Lord, grant me the grace to live simply. I hate when I get lost in the cares, riches, and pleasures of this world. Unfortunately, it takes me an awful long time to realize that I hate it. My one desire right now is to really worship you with my entire life. Some parts I do really well with, other parts need a lot of work. As I walk with you today, when the cares of this life drown you out, help me imagine that worldly care as a weed in my mind and help me to pull it, roots and all. Give me a clean garden to grow this seed of your presence. I give you back the pen of my salvation. I’m sorry for taking it from you. I trust that you will do everything necessary in my life to prepare me to enjoy you for the rest of my days here on earth, and in heaven forever and ever.