Monday, May 3, 2010

Ónen i-Estel Edain.Ú-chebin Estel anim

It's been a week since I began the process of attempting to "practice His presence" - to think of Him in every moment, consider Him in every thought, action, decision, feeling, and motive. I finished the book this week, and I can speak without hyperbole when I say that it completely changed my life. I've read many books that lit fires under me and greatly affected my view on and walk with the Lord, but none have had the profound effect on me that this one did. It was like all of the questions I'd been struggling through, all of the fears, all of the shortcomings, all of the struggles were all accounted for and beautifully revealed through the lines of each page. By far the biggest thing it did was give me confidence in my faith.

I am a person who far too easily loses confidence in my place with God, because I have felt like such a wretched failure to Him until recent years. I spent so much time running away from Him on purpose. I spent so much time lost, so much time in a grasp of Satan that causes me to shudder in fear and shame when I recall it. I never want to go back to that place. I pray so often for the Lord to never let me forget the way it felt during that time. I swore that I would never turn my back on Him again. As a result, I am very hard on myself where my time and relationship with Him are concerned. I launch into a state of guilt and sadness when I miss a quiet time, fail to do my bible study homework for a day, and especially when I see shadows of old demons lurking within my thoughts and actions. Things became especially hard for me as my work picked up throughout the year. I have such a passion for my kids that I throw myself into them in a way that commands my time, my mind, and my labor. I have felt many times throughout the school year that I have been somehow sacrificing God's time for my kids' time or visa-versa. I know this not to be true, because I know that my work with my kids IS His work, but I still felt as though I was not being as faithful as I should be when I would come home exhausted at 9:00 or 10:00 at night, knowing 3:30 am was just around the corner and choose to pray as I fell asleep instead of meditate, or forgo a night of study homework. I would always beat myself up for it the next day - wake up begging His forgiveness, seeking a way to find Him again - grabbing for Him in desperation, fearing I would fall all the way away if I let go even the slightest bit. It's become quite obvious to me that I don't fully trust myself yet. I grew especially distressed when I came to a state in my prayer life where during meditation, my mind would wander severely. I would even sometimes be praying aloud when it would drift, and I would soon realize I had stopped talking. Oh, I was so ashamed of myself! I kept begging God not to lose faith in me as I was in myself, to search my soul and know that I still longed for Him, to re-focus me. I would think of Him all day, but it was always in thoughts like, "Oh, He's so disappointed in me. I must make time for Him tonight. Why could I not speak to Him? Oh, Lord, I'm so sorry!" I was just crying out constantly in my head. I didn't even feel connected at Bible study...or so I thought.

As my previous post explained, that's where this book comes into play. God had reverberated words throughout my soul during that time in the Dust of the Rabbi, even though it has taken until now for the sound to reach my ears. He then placed Practicing His Presence in my hands, and the words I have heard from Him through it bring tears to my eyes every time I think on them.

First, He removed my guilt by allowing me to see FULLY that my work IS His work and that as long as I am going about every second of my work out of love and devotion to Him, as long as I am practicing His presence in every minute - I am as connected to Him as if I had just spent hours in prayer. It was explained in the book this way: "My set times of prayer are not different from other times of the day. Although I do retire to pray (because it is the direction of my superior,) I do not need such retirement nor do I ask for it because my greatest business does not divert me from God." Please don't misunderstand. None of this is to say that quiet time with Him is somehow unnecessary. It was just such a comfort to me to know that on the days when His work gets the very last breath of my spirit, and I perchance to miss my opportunity with Him, I need not destroy myself with guilt over it, because I can be confident in the fact that we were together in prayer in every moment.

Secondly, the issue of my wandering mind was specifically addressed. In fact, there was an entire chapter on it called, "Recalling the Wandering Mind." AHHH! How can you not LOVE His ways?!?! The chapter gave specific ways to avoid this issue but more so offered the all-important caveat to not let yourself be "troubled or disquieted" by the occurrence. I see now the benefit of practicing His presence in this case as well, as the more your mind becomes accustomed to recalling the Lord, the more your mind is likely to wander there than elsewhere. =)

God even saw fit to answer a question for me in this book that has literally plagued my mind and spirit for as long as I can recall. I struggle so much with trusting myself that I often don't trust my discernment. As I listen, especially during times of decision making, I often second guess WHO I am hearing. Is it God? Is it me? Is it Satan? I have gotten so much advice on the topic over the years and had begun to try and adopt the truth that where ever the peace was, God was. My problem was that my lack of confidence shook my foundation enough that I never found true peace in any decision. Here is what He had for me on this topic: "We are not always sure whether we have guessed His answer correctly...It is really not necessary to be sure that our answer is right, for the answer is not the great thing - He is! God is infinitely more important than His advice or His gifts. Indeed, He, Himself is the greatest gift...we ought to make a great difference between acts of understanding and those of His will. Actions we take in response to our own mental understanding are of comparatively little value. Actions we take in response to the deep impressions of our heart are of all value. Our only business is to love and delight ourselves in God, and the shortest way to God is by continual exercise of love and doing all things for His sake, never stopping to question why or how." Wow! That's all I can say! Amen!

Lastly and most incredibly, this book has allowed me to come to a place where I am no longer destroyed by my shortcomings. Praise Him for that! This experience is one of great difficulty. I knew it would be a constant struggle, something I would fail at throughout its beginning, and I have certainly failed many times a day thus far. I have found what a waste it is to spend time grovelling over such things, though. God knows we are human. He knows we are helplessly flawed. I have thus adopted a simple line of prayer from Brother Lawrence. "God, I know that I have failed, and I shall never do otherwise if you leave me to myself. Stay with me now." In His presence, there IS NO FAILURE!!

I'm going to keep this up. I truly want this to become a way of being for me. The experience thus far has been incredible, and I have felt days of peace and connections to Him I never imagined were possible. Everything is so clear, and it's true, when you're working out of love and devotion to Him in EVERY THOUGHT, everything goes as He has planned and thus goes perfectly. I have had a week of the best days I can recall in a long while. I have not had a full successful day, hour, nor even series of minutes perfectly in His presence yet, but the results have been beautiful nonetheless.

Our God is AMAZING!! He has saved my life again. My favorite truth about Him will always be that He not only saves us from evil - He just as often saves us from ourselves.


One last thing before I depart for the night. I know I'm hopelessly long-winded. Sorry! I just had to share this.

I was so enamored by a statement Marty made on Sunday. He spoke to he fact that we are God's POEM! As a person who adores writing poetry, I thought I would end this post by sharing one of my original ones. This poem is the one I actually wrote to perform at the Poetry Slam we had for our freshmen this year, but I thought it would be appropriate for tonight, as I truly saw that once again the written word revealed so much more to me than that which is spoken. That's just what this poem is about. =)

"The Pen is Mightier than the Sword" by Linsey McCoun

Some old strokes on a page.
Chivalrous in essence, form, and practice.
Noble is the hand whose sharpened pen dubs lines like knights in the grand corridors of lined pages.
For, yes it is true what they say:
The word is alive.
Courageous, just, and merciful - the written word sits on the throne of authorial authority.
Timelessly it rules over the articulation of thought, the flowing of feeling, the knowledge of right and good -

But woe to those who express self with speech!
Guard well your words, my brothers, for when pens are sheathed, the spoken word springs forth as a double edged sword from the mouths of baser, less inspired men.
They sharpen their tongues and aim their words like deadly arrows.

It is only the shield of the page that holds them at bay.

Reckless words pierce fast and deep, but armed with those that have been carefully written - no weapon forged against you will prevail.

Never has a poem sacrificed it's poet, but those who wield the spoken sword can surely die upon it.

So, taste not the poison that lingers on lips. Instead, drink from the fountain that flows from fingertips.

Stay silent. Listen.
Let the written word reveal to you all that is hidden.
For even our savior spoke only to say, "For it is written."

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