Thursday, 16 September 2010

Challenges for the Working Gal: practising His presence

Everyone knows that teaching is not a ‘proper’ job – we start our day late, finish early and then have all those long holidays... ha ha ha! I’ve had 7 weeks ‘off’ work! Yet I am sure you will not be surprised to hear that I have been busy. My family eat better, the house is cleaner and jobs which have been stacked up for months have finally been done..and of course there has been more time for them.

Yet I am conscious that I have been too busy for God. That, sometimes, ikt is easier to be in touch with God during a busy term than it is throughout the long summer holiday. I know I need to get back to living my life more from the Inside Out – letting my spiritual life come to the fore rather than let my outer life – my thoughts, my emotions, what happens to me – ‘dictate’ my spiritual health. I want to ‘glow’ with God’s presence.

This is REALLY important at work.

Yes, but how can I live more ‘naturally’? ‘Practicing the Presence of God’ by Brother Lawrence seemed like a good place to start.

Br Lawrence had 6 practices which are, in brief:

1. Find joy in God’s company. Talk to him. Yes, but how?
2. Every action is an opportunity for fellowship with God: for being with him. How do we do this?
3. Everything we do should be thoughtful, considerate and disciplined, done to seek God’s approval. How can I remember? How can I stop being too impulsive?
4. We should stop to inwardly worship God in the middle of our busyness, whatever we are doing. Praising, asking, giving of ourselves, thanking... What effect does this have? (Turning our focus on God turns our focus away from ourselves and we become less self-centred)
5. Believe that God is in our hearts and that he sees and knows everything. Know that our Creator is infinitely perfect: what is the implication of this? (God is just, and we owe him justice in all our thoughts, words and actions.)
6. Recognise where we need God: know our weaknesses. We need to turn to God, worship Him humbly, be honest about our weaknesses and ask for His help. Yes, but how? We know we can’t do it alone, but....??

The Holy Spirit helps us. Mark 13:11

Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

I don’t know how you imagine receiving the Holy Spirit. John 20:22 says:
And with that he (Jesus) breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit.” ,and in Acts 1 Jesus gave the apostles instructions through the Holy Spirit.

I had an odd revelation a while back. I’ve never really quite grasped how the Holy Spirit – who is a person, one of three in the Trinity – can be ‘in’ me. If I’ve thought about it, I would have envisaged the Holy Spirit as a little elf or sprite, flitting around my head, whispering good advice. Yet, when I read again recently that the Holy Spirit is a PERSON (yes, I’m a bit slow, need things repeated several times) and that He is JESUS here with me on earth, I now envisage the Holy Spirit as something that I can only describe as like an inner bodysuit. It’s almost as if, in a good way and without ‘taking me over’ the Holy Spirit has landed on me (as you see sometimes in science fiction films where an alien takes over a human’s body!) and then invaded every cell, living in and alongside me as a complete person within me.

And so how can we benefit from Brother Lawrence’s example and advice? He read the Gospels; occupied himself with continued acts of worship and of love, asking God’s help in everything he did. Then he would thank God when he had done it, and confess his shortcomings.

And how did he perceive God’s presence with him? He called it
A simple act or a clear and distinct knowledge of God;
A hazy vision of Him;
A diffuse and loving gaze;
A remembering of God;
A wordless conversation with him;
Confidence in God, the life and peace of the soul...

(from the chapter entitled ‘Concerning the Presence of God’)

Isaiah 57 verse 15 says:

For this is what the high and lofty One says—
he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
"I live in a high and holy place,
but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
and to revive the heart of the contrite.

So my prayer is from Psalm 51:10-12 (NIV)
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

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