Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the LORD is in this place — and I did not know it!’”
If you’re new to these devotions, I should say that my usual approach is to examine closely a passage of Scripture, drawing out from the text wisdom concerning the difference God makes in our life and leadership. This week, however, I’m doing something a little different. My devotions are based on Genesis 28:16, a passage in which Jacob recognizes God’s unexpected presence. But I’m drawing wisdom from a classic Christian book, The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. I believe we have much to learn from our mature brothers and sisters in Christ. I know I do.
Brother Lawrence, who worked in the kitchen of a monastery for decades, learned to be conscious of God’s presence at all times. How did he do this? In yesterday’s devotion, I noted that the beginning for Lawrence was “diligently imploring God” for the ability to remain in communication with him throughout the day. In other words, we learn to be attentive to God at all times, not merely by our own efforts, but through God’s grace at work in us.
Yet, just because something happens by grace, this does not mean our efforts don’t matter. In 1 Corinthians 15, for example, Paul explains that his apostolic ministry is a result of God’s grace at work in him. Yet, he adds, “I worked harder than any of [the other apostles] — though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Cor 15:10).
In a similar vein, here’s how Brother Lawrence explains how our awareness of God’s presence grows in us: “In short, by often repeating these acts of consciously focusing on and communing with God, this practice becomes continuous. Eventually, the presence of God becomes natural to us” (excerpt from the “First Letter”). So, as God’s grace helps us, we repeatedly focus on God throughout the day and commune with him. We redirect our minds and hearts to the Lord as a grace-filled exercise of will. In time, we become so accustomed to fellowship with God that it is “natural to us.”
So what might help us remember to focus on God during the day? I know people who use physical reminders to point to the Lord. So, every time they see a particular painting on their wall, for example, they think of God. I know others who are in a community where people regularly remind each other of God’s presence.
I’m trying an experiment of a different kind. I have set several reminders in my phone, so that at certain hours of the day I’ll receive the message “God is here.” I’m hoping that this simple reminder will open my heart to a deeper and more consistent awareness of God’s presence. Maybe you will want to join me in this experiment.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
What helps you to remember God’s presence in your life and work?
Can you think of something simple you could add to your life so that you might grow in a consistent awareness of God’s presence in your work?
Gracious God, how we thank you that you are with us always. Thank you for your Spirit who dwells in us and among us as your people. Thank you for the countless times you have made yourself known to us.
Help us, Lord, to grow in our awareness of you. By your grace, may we practice your presence until we become consistently aware of you. Help us especially in settings where we are apt to forget you.
May all we do this day glorify you and draw us closer to you.