Sunday, March 20, 2005

Practicing the Presence of God Today

One taste of His presence and people will hunger for more. I'm talking about the real presence of God with all the peace, joy, and love that is encompassed therein. If you have experienced His presence then you know just what I mean.

Christians have the privilege of knowing that very presence in our lives. Everyday.

However, minutes, hours, and days can slip away with His presence going unnoticed and unacknowledged by us. Recognition of Him is not automatic. We need to practice such awareness, develop our sensitivity. It is possible for someone to stand right next to you and never be noticed. That is just what happens with His presence in our lives.

We know that He has promised to always be with us and to never leave us. How is it that we fail so often to recognize His daily presence?

I have found a need to "practice" my awareness, to create a habit of communing with Him throughout the day. Not to sense Him just now and then, but while doing the laundry, practicing songs with the kids, talking with my husband, etc. In order to grow in this, I borrowed a seemingly trite little strategy from a woman I greatly admire; Nancy Campbell recommended using a kitchen timer - that's right, a kitchen timer - to remember His presence. Sounds a bit silly, I know. But it was just the ticket for me.

Every 15 minutes the timer is set to go off - a reminder to stop and realize His presence. At the bell, you immediately move into praise, turning your focus from the daily grind to His greatness. In a matter of days, you have become accustomed to seeing that greatness in your vision at all times. A bit more utilization of this exercise will allow you to cement this practice into your paradigm of daily living.

As we began using this method in our home, the kids got right into it. "Mom, the timer is ringing!" "Okay," I would call back, "everyone, stop whatever you're doing, think about Him, and praise Him!" These few minutes were soon known as our "Hallelujah time!"

I must share a very amusing, yet profound situation that I encountered as I set about using this discipline. I was a busy mother with several children at home. It had been an especially tiring week. One of the many trying events of the past few days had been my lost battle with a stubborn window shade; with a less than gentle tug, I had pulled it completely off the rod. It lay crumpled on the floor for most of the week before I could get around to repairing it (true confessions here!) Finally I managed to get to it. I placed the repaired shade back in the hardware and pulled it halfway down. "Ah! Perfect! Finally something in the house is in place . . ."

Ten minutes later I returned to the room to find it laying in a heap on the floor, completely off the rod once more! A daughter had already had an unsuccessful contest with the shade. And Mom was not happy. I was about to cry when suddenly I heard the bell.

"Mom, the timer is ringing!"

Hesitation. Sigh.

"Okay everyone, stop whatever you're doing, think about Him, and praise Him."

I found myself face to face with God's plan for us: to know His love in every situation. This window shade episode had become a profound lesson in practicing His presence. Knowing He is there and His love is real no matter what we may encounter brings strength, grace, peace, and help. He is our all in all, always, in everything, immediately - "a very present help". I was truly rejoicing in seeing His love through that broken shade! What a wonderful lesson it had afforded me!

Until we practice His presence in our lives on a "day in and day out" basis, we are no different looking than the guy next door. Instead, we could have the fragrance of the Lord's presence upon us at all times. But if we haven't acknowledged it, they won't either. Once we do, it leaks out all over.

I have worn the same fragrance for several years now - Patchouli. I love it. People have come to recognize it and tend to link me to it. Not long ago, I was visiting a friend for the afternoon. Shortly after I had gone, her husband returned home. He walked in the house and promptly asked his wife if I had been there recently. "I thought so," he said. "I could smell Patchouli."

As Christians, we need to be saturated in the Lord's presence. Then we can carry the fragrance of our Lord to the world around us. His presence in our lives should be evident to all onlookers. May they taste and see that the Lord is good. Perhaps once they do, they will hunger for more and more.

So whatever it takes to get you in the habit of practicing His presence - go for it. May His praise be always upon our lips and a sense of His presence always in our hearts. Even if it takes a kitchen timer to prime the pump!


Blogger Deb said...

What a wonderful illustration! I am going to do that. Wonder what would happen if I did it at work, too? (I once had a pedometer with a little timer built in. That could work.)

Thank you for sharing your wisdom here with us all. I have always anticipated reading your weblog ... and I like your setup here.

8:39 AM  
Blogger Darlene Sinclair said...

A good thought from Nancy Campbell passed on to you by me...
As far as the setup - glad to hear it works for now. I haven't begun to do much with the site. This is definitely not the season for my creativity to flow here. Perhaps when musicals and weddings are done!! :)

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