16 November 2007

Practicing the Presence of God - pt 3

He said we ought to quicken and enliven our faith. It was lamentable we had so little. Instead of taking faith for the rule of their conduct, men amused themselves with trivial devotions which changed daily. He said that faith was sufficient to bring us to a high degree of perfection. We ought to give ourselves up to God with regard both to things temporal and spiritual and seek our satisfaction only in the fulfilling of His will. Whether God led us by suffering or by consolation all would be equal to a soul truly resigned.

I think that the first half of this quote only makes sense - practically speaking - when we pay a lot of attention to the second half. How did Brother Lawrence think we should enliven our faith? By giving ourselves up to his leading every second of the day... whatever the consequences.

I'd like to wander off-track and highlight this 'consequences' idea for a minute, because I think it's important. Sometimes bad things can happen to us as a result of following God's will. The path of love for others isn't always easy - as shown by the lives of Jesus and his apostles. Not that something bad happening necessarily proves that we've been following God's will! I've noticed a 'follow God and he'll protect you from all harm' theory springing up amongst newer christians, and I think it's a little misguided - it's missing a word. God will protect us from spiritual harm. Our souls can rest in Him. Our bodies... may take a few beatings.

Back to the point... how do we give ourselves up to God's leading? I think the answer is in that continual conversation with God. When we recognise that we're faced with an option, we can ask God what he thinks.

Will we get a direct answer, though? Well, I'm not sure. This is one area in which Christians seem to differ - a lot. Some, like me, hear God fairly clearly as a thought which is somehow recognisable as God. Some (again, like me) feel an urging in a particular direction when they ask. Some see a bible verse that day, or the day after. Some are given a 'word from God' from another Christian. Some don't seem to hear, see or feel anything at all.

If there's no direct answer, there are still two basic principles - love God, love your neighbour. My general advice is simple. If one of the options goes against either of those principles, discard it. If one of the options seems to follow those principles better than the others, take it.


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