Sometimes, practicing the presence seems a little like digging holes…

Sometimes my practicing the presence seems a little like digging holes along the river looking for living water… let me explain.

In the Exodus account, God gave Moses the power to perform miracles and signs so that the Egyptians would know that He was Lord, the One True God. After turning his staff into a snake, Moses touched the Nile River and turned it into blood along with all of the water in Egypt. Everything in the river died and smelled.

Then, in Exodus 6,  the Egyptians dug holes along the river in search of living water. I am struck by this imagery.  I can imagine the heat and the stench as the Egyptians dig holes into the parched earth with parched souls, hoping to find living water. They were digging beside a gruesome sight of blood and flies which was once their source of life, industry and wealth. Egypt was nothing without its water source, the Nile.

The answer for the Egyptians was simple… acknowledge that the Lord was the one true God and release the children of Israel to worship Him. I think that our answer is also simple… there is a River of Life that runs through each of us… we can tap into it at any time. Too often, we find ourselves right beside the Source of Living water… but because of our own spiritual hardness or the complexities of life… we dig holes along the river longing to quench our spiritual thirst. Jesus said in John 7:38, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

Perhaps the practice of inward gazing at the Source of Water within us rather than struggling to dig holes outside of the water source would bring the spiritual refreshment that we long for. This requires practice and patience… seeing through the layers of our humanity to behold the divine that has been birthed, by the grace of God, within us. There is something beautiful to behold within each of us.

A. W.  Tozer writes, ” Many have found the secret of which I speak and, without giving much thought to what is going on within them, constantly practice this habit of inwardly gazing upon God. They know that something inside their hearts sees God. Even when they are compelled to withdraw their conscious attention in order to engage in earthly affairs there is within them a secret communion always going on.”

O, Lord, may I have the grace to slow my frantic digging and gaze upon the One who has taken up residence within me; the River of Life. Amen.

It takes some effort to frame our days…

Like Jacob… we can take the time to re-frame our days. Just has he stopped before moving into Egypt to honor God and offer himself to God, we too can take time to do that.

There are many ways to frame our days that have been passed down throughout the history of Christianity. Morning and Evening prayers, the Examen, the Daily Office, the practice of centering prayer are just a few.

I find it helpful to begin my day with reading scripture and then move into a time of centering prayer. I find that it re-frames my entire day. I tend to see things that happen throughout the day with spirit eyes… which is a good thing. I find that if I begin the day centered in God’s presence I have a much better chance of staying centered!

I was never good at praying out loud for any length of time growing up. Read more

What frames your day?

What frames our days? Is it coffee, alarms, our appointments, exercise, children, work? What motivates us to get out of bed and begin our day… expectations of others? Obligations, classes? Sermons?

There are many things that pull at my day and try to become the centering narrative for everything that I do. This past week, I bought a Kinnect for my Xbox… because I want to be in better shape and lose weight! I went out and bought a great game, “The Biggest Loser” to help me along. It was fun at first… making sure I played the game everyday so it wouldn’t scold me. Losing weight and working out… all very worthy causes for my day. Though I have been successful, feel very good about myself and am definitely a little lighter, I am mindful that this will only last for a time. It is not enough of a reason to get out of bed a little earlier each day… and it is not the story I want to tell with my life. It can be a fun part of my life… but not what frames my life.

We, as seekers of God, claim that our days are to be framed by the one who loves us and seeks us. It is a good and comforting thing to know… but does this powerful truth lay claim to us each day. Does it determine how we live this moment, this day? Read more

Why settle for yesterday’s manna when there is a feast today?

Recently I have been amazed at the provision of God, to meet me in times of prayer, to “tweet” me messages of encouragement when needed  and inspire me when I am feeling dry. At the same time, I am also aware that I must cultivate an awareness of this provision and an attitude of thanksgiving. God invites me to a rhythm that fosters an awareness of his provision each day.

When I arrived at work today, I met a friend who shared with me that she had been praying for our trip with our son… that we would sense God’s presence with us. I was amazed! The very thing she prayed for, we experienced in our many God tweets during our visit to the university. My heart was warmed as she shared with me the words and frequency of her prayers for our family. More manna! More to feast on!

I am reminded of how God provided manna for the children of Israel  as they wondered about the wilderness. The interesting thing about the manna is that they could only gather enough for one day. If they gathered more than what they needed, it was rotten the next morning. Sometimes, I think we spend too much time dwelling on the past or thinking about the future and miss the fresh manna for the day. Read more

God is tweeting everywhere

For those of you who are not familiar with one of the leaders in Social media and communication, Twitter is a network of persons who give a short status update in less than 140 characters. The goal is to share information, feed and point your twitter community to things that you find beneficial. The status updates are called “tweets”. I, for one, am fairly new to Twitter, but after a year or so of my husband telling me I should try it, I finally gave in. I will confess that I am enjoying following, connecting and learning from persons in my Twitter community.

A week or so ago, as I spent time with God in the morning, I heard God say, “I am tweeting everywhere”. Well, my first reaction was that I must be overly involved in this social networking stuff that it has made it this far into my prayer time. But, after reflecting on the idea, I must agree… God is tweeting everywhere.

The Bible is full of God tweets… just think about Daniel and the writing on the wall! Or some of our favorite verses in Psalms such as “the heavens are telling the glories of God” or my favorite in Romans chapter 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

God is the Master tweeter! He surrounds us with updates pointing us to Him, His activity in the world. The problem is, we are too often too busy to notice or even ponder what they mean. As my own spiritual awareness grew from this concept, I began to reverence these heavenly tweets by simply naming them as I saw them and giving thanks to God.

This past weekend, we took our son for a college visit. He planned to try out for a full scholarship on one of the worship teams there. We decided to leave early so that He would be sure to get on the audition list since it was a first come first serve basis. When we arrived, early, we found ourselves in a line longer than any ride at Disney. There were an overwhelming 2,000 people there registering for the weekend.

My son and I took our place in the long line while Harry went to find the nearest restroom. We noticed that he was gone a really long time. We thought he might have gotten lost or something. When he returned we asked him what happened… he said that the first bathroom was  being cleaned and he needed to find another one. Wouldn’t you know, that the other one was right by the table to sign up for the worship team auditions! The spots were being taken quickly and he was able to secure our son a time slot… God is tweeting everywhere we said to each other with a smile.

After his long awaited audition, we chatted with our son on the way out to the car about how it went. He seemed unsure … we tried to encourage him because, of course, we are his parents! Just before we made it to the car, a young lady stopped us in the parking lot and said that she was part of one of the teams and had sat in on our son’s audition! She went on to say what a great job he did and what a good musician he was! Wow… another God tweet.

Our weekend with our son was full of God tweets… it is not that God was saying that our son would definitely get into this program or get that scholarship. God was just simply reminding us that he was with us in the journey.

Our lives are indeed full of God tweets, God saying to us, hey, I am with you. As we become aware of God’s encouragement to us, God’s pointing us, and God’s presence all around us, we realize that God is closer than we think! Thanks be to God!

sometimes it is just hard to see

Sometimes it is hard for me to see this God reality… especially when I am keenly aware of the war and violence that is currently happening in Egypt. Or, when I am aware of the suffering and unexplained tragedies and illnesses that my church community experiences. Violence, crime, murder is very present in my living room when I watch the morning news… I do wonder, where is this God reality? How can I see? Sometimes it is not as tragic as that… sometimes it is as simple as my own self-consciousness and inhibitions that keep me from seeing the God sightings.

And yet, God is patient with me. He leaves me little signs… hints of his presence all around.

Blogging about Elisha’s  prayer to see beyond the present circumstances into the reality of God’s presence   kind of stayed with me the rest of the day. Shortly after posting that entry, I had lunch with a group of some of our church members who live in a retirement community. We reminisced about a lot of things. How we have experienced God’s presence when we can’t sleep, ways that we can be more playful, change… especially changes that involve the telephone and technology and change that involves their bodies… some good changes and some hard changes. We acknowledged that sometimes it is hard to look beyond our circumstances to see how God is in that too.

One of the group members who is currently under hospice care and is thinking about the changes she is experiencing spoke up, “It is hard for me to think about the future… when I close my eyes… I don’t see anything.” A moment of sacred silence slipped by and there I was with Elisha’s prayer. I told her that I would pray Elisha’s prayer for her, that God would open her eyes to see the spiritual places beyond her circumstances… just as he had done for Jacob and the ladder from heaven in an ordinary field… just as he had done for Elisha’s servant who even though he was surrounded by an army and possible death, God opened his eyes to see the heavenly chariots of fire that were present as well. Our eyes met for a second… and I knew by the softening in her eyes that it is was a good thing to pray for… A quiet nod of acceptance. It is hard sometimes to see the heavenly in our all too real earthly bodies… this is a thing that only God can do.

“O God, quicken to life every power within me, that I may lay hold on eternal things. Open my eyes that I may see; give me acute spiritual perception; enable me to taste Thee and know that Thou art good. Make heaven more real to me than any earthly thing has ever been. Amen” A.W. Tozer -The Pursuit of God

Help my eyes to see

Another cup of coffee and another invitation from God today… I am beginning to see beyond circumstances and recognize just how hard God works at getting through to this overly intellectual, worrisome head of mine! Today’s reading of A.W. Tozer sparked more thoughts on last weeks post, “Are there ladders in your life“. Tozer writes, “The soul has eyes with which to see and ears with which to hear. Feeble they may be from long disuse, but by the life-giving touch of Christ alive now and capable of sharpest sight and most sensitive hearing.”

Tozer speaks to what we as a culture and society have accepted as reality. Things that are concrete, that we can touch, are for that very reason are perceived as reality. However, he challenges us to see that the spiritual realm, the things of God, are just as real. Our ability to perceive them is also as real. The problem is that most of us are out of shape or too cynical… Read more

Are there ladders in you life?

I woke up at my usual time to meet God this morning, with a hot cup of coffee in my favorite mug and the bathrobe my mom gave me for Christmas a couple of years back. I found myself in the story of Jacob’s Ladder… I instantly found myself humming the tune of a childhood Chorus “We are climbing Jacob’s Ladder”… soldiers of the cross…hmm… I am not sure I really like the idea of singing about soldiers these days as I am aware of the war and unrest that my brothers and sisters are experiencing around the world. Read more

Coincidental or could this really be God?

“Coincidental , or could this really be God?” I asked myself as I stared in disbelief at my Dove Candy wrapper. Just yesterday, God gave me a profound invitation to play with Him during my time of centering prayer. I saw us playing on the beach, making snow angels and skipping… I felt so carefree and lighthearted in the vision. As soon as the prayer time was over, it occurred to me how difficult the concept of playing was for me.

My childhood was not very playful. My dad died when I was only eleven years old and this tragedy turned my innocent world upside down. As I think back, the last time I remember truly playing was just before he died. Perhaps his death initiated me into the adult world of responsibility too soon.

As I reflected further, I realized that many times, maybe because I am a firstborn, I feel the need to figure everything out ahead of time. Instead of delighting in the day and its surprises, I can become regimented and guarded. Delighting and playing are indeed a stretch for me.

Later on that day, I found myself in a meeting where we were talking about the wonderful things God is doing in our church; a fresh movement of the spirit. I noticed that I along with others felt the need to organize it, theologize about it, anticipate the outcome and plan it. At that moment, I remembered the poem I had written to capture the vision from my prayer. I pulled it out along with a piece of Dove Chocolate. I ruminated over the invitation to delight in this new thing God was doing… to be playful. At that point I glanced down to read what my Dove Chocolate Wrapper had to say on the inside… “Forget  the rules and play by your heart” Coincidence, maybe, but the child inside of me that is learning how to play thinks it may just be God.

sync your heart with God’s heart

Dwelling in the presence of God just makes us more open to the God surprises in each day. It moves us from an analytical, theological and intellectual approach  to a more experiential place where we can encounter God’s activity around us.

In Genesis 18, Abraham receives his guests in a traditional yet authentic way. He bows low to the ground not to worship them but to express his genuine receptivity to unexpected guests. His greeting says I receive you, I value you, and I respect you. We don’t really know if he recognized initially that they were indeed messengers from heaven.

I often wonder how many God encounters in my life I have all together missed due to my lack of dwelling in the presence of God. Read more