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Friday, February 17, 2012

Pursuing ceaseless

Several times I've shared about this beautiful little book Practicing His Presence.  It is a compilation of letters and journal entries from Frank Laubach and Brother Lawrence about their "experiment of filling every minute with the thought of God".   The funny thing is that they did not know each other.  Brother Lawrence died in 1691 and Frank Laubach in 1970.   The similarities are uncanny though.  The descriptions of feeling, struggling to keep their minds attentive and how easily, at first, they are distracted.  Then the triumphant descriptions when they describe their successes......all so similar.

About ten years ago, I began a similar journey....without ever having heard about either of these men or this book.    I was a young wife and mother, struggling.....questioning my life decisions and desperately lonely.  At the time, knowing that I alone could not fix my marriage or cause my husband to grow in faith....I determined I had one viable option in my control.   The Lord would be my husband, my companion.

"For the Lord your maker is your husband, 
the Lord of hosts is His name;
 and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
 the God of the whole earth He is called.
For the Lord has called you
like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit,
like a wife of youth when she is cast off,
says your God.
For a brief moment I deserted you,
but with great compassion I will gather you."
~ Isaiah 54:5-7 

If the Lord was my spouse then, as in any relationship, I needed to converse with Him.   Develop our relationship to be more than random, blurted requests.   If He, being good and perfect, was my spouse then He would want to hear what was on my heart.....instead of the silence of "He knows, so why tell."  There is joy in someone you love wanting to share things with you.  So I began talking.  About anything and everything and I asked questions and sometimes I just kept silent but still holding a total awareness of His presence.   It was difficult at first and I failed miserably more often than not in the beginning.  Eventually it became easier...after months and months of effort.

At some point I discussed this relationship effort with someone at our church and I was introduced to the above book.   I was awestruck by the descriptions....the successes and the failures.....while the composition of the explanation was more articulate, more mature than I could have described at the time....it blew my mind that I was reading someone else's words, that could have been documenting my experience.   It was my mountain top.

Reaching the top of anything usually means there is no place to go but down.  Personal tragedy struck in the death of my mother almost 8 years ago and while at first I clung to Him, somehow......my grasp was loosened and I fell to the valley, where I stayed for near two years.   Now I see so much more clearly how He allows things to grow and stretch us.   There are times where we need to be taught the tough stuff of walking on our own.

I have spent the last 6 years looking back at that mountain top while trying to climb the next.   More times than I can count He has reminded me that I cannot move forward successfully while looking backward.  That is what has caused me to stumble and fall over and over again.  Had I just left it behind, stopped looking back, I would have been able to focus on Him, right in front of me, instructing me in how to climb.  Instead I operated out of my own will and confidence and missed the foot holds and the firm ledges to grasp.

Recently, as I am re-reading through this book of Practicing...I began to wonder.  "Should I be recording my experience of rekindling the intimacy of this relationship with You?  Is it ours alone to share or, like these men, would it somehow be beneficial - to someone, anyone - for me to share this journey in a more public fashion?"  This was my very real question earlier this week.   I shared it with my husband who wisely did not try to answer but encouraged me to keep asking.   Yesterday, while I waited in the car for Dude to be released from school, I once again picked up the book and was met with the answer......"October 12, 1930  How I wish, wish, wish that a dozen or more persons who are trying to hold God endlessly in mind would all write their experiences so that each would know what the other was finding as a result!  The results, I think, would astound the world.  At least the results of my own effort are astounding to me." 
and
"September 28, 1931   When one has struck some wonderful blessing that all mankind has a right to know about, no custom or false modesty should prevent him from telling it, even though it may mean the unbarring of his soul to the public gaze."


I tipped my head back against the headrest, smiling and said "Okay, I'll do it.".....and sighed that sigh that comes when you know that giving in to His wishes are so much easier than sitting in your insecurities and coming up with excuses as to why you really shouldn't do this.   Surrender to the One who knows infinitely more, that is infinitely more satisfying.

So here is your introduction.....your foretaste to future sharing of this experience.  

If this experience is so similar between 3 people who have not been alive during the same span of time...how is this not what we were truly meant for?  Is this not the relationship we were meant to have with our creator? When Jesus told us to "Abide in Me."  "By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit ans so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has love Me so have I loved you. Abide in My love." In John 15.....isn't this what He was talking about?  Abiding, staying with Him at all times and in all circumstances.  Is this not what He did?   The model that He set for us?    To be Christ like.....means to be like Christ.  To do as He did.  So if He, being fully human and fully divine but denouncing that privilege to show us what an abiding relationship with God was meant to be.....isn't this the ultimate pursuit?

"What I want to prove is that the thing can be done by all people under all conditions, but I have not proven it yet.  This much I do see - what an incredibly high thing Jesus did."  Frank Laubach June 1, 1930.

Taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
~ Ps. 34:8

Blessings of ceaseless sharing of your heart with He alone who can hold it without harm, 
the Mrs.

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