His Presence Trumps Everything Else

Practicing His Presence because He alone is always enough

I'm so blessed to be sitting at a beautiful writing desk with a wall of windows to my left overlooking the intercoastal waters of Florida's beautiful Suncoast. Even today's rain is a delightful change from the sunshine of the last five days.

This trip has been a combination of three fun-filled days with my beautiful sisters (in-law/love), Amy and Natalie, and four quiet, reflective days for me. Kind of like a sabbatical after 26 years of parenting, 15 years of homeschooling, 10 years of caring for my grandma, and numerous other life adventures.

So how does one plan for such a stretch of time alone? That was the big question.

For months it has seemed I've struggled with wanting to do a zillion things all at once. So many things to learn, to do, to accomplish. I've always had a voracious appetite for more knowledge (just ask my kids who think I'm the "Question Queen").  Only God knows the true motives of my quest for more. The Bible says, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9).

So, as I was planning my time away, I was concerned that I would come up with a giant to-do list (and too much stuff to pack!). To combat this tendency, I only packed three books and three devotionals. Though to be honest, my Kindle does have a hundred or so books on it. And then there's the laptop and the wide, open internet!

But God has been kind and merciful, and I felt, even before I left, that He wanted me to focus on the one needful thing--HIM. More specifically, His Presence. (Yes, it DOES take a lot of practice, Andrew Murray!).

One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple. —Psalm 27:4

I'm wanting to practice His Presence because that is where my true life comes from. That's where I find the grace and strength and wisdom that I need to both BE who He wants me to be and DO what He wants me to do.

It's through the overflow of His Presence I am healed, restored, set free, and enabled to reach a broken world--one person at a time--with the very same Presence that I so desperately need. I'm realizing how much time I spend dancing around His Presence as I try to manage my life and maneuver my days. 

One of my favorite devotionals is 31 Days of Praise by Ruth Myers. On Day 29 she writes, "Thank you today...that I can let go of the whole burden of my life and service...of my marriage, children, and all my relationships (past, present, and future), of my inadequacies and my self-dependence, and rest on Your presence working in me and through the Holy Spirit...I can go forth praising and at rest...ceasing from the burden of trying to manage myself without Your wisdom and power."

I love this prayer and I pray it often--even when it's not Day 29.

This morning I woke up to a gorgeous sunrise and listened to Fernando Ortega's beautiful rendition of "Give Me Jesus." And my heart sang along. "In the morning when I rise, in the morning when I rise, in the morning when I rise, give me Jesus. You can have all this world, but give me Jesus."

Yes, I want to be willing to give up all this world, with it's wisdom and wealth, it's freedom and formulas, it's significance and status, and cling to Jesus. I'm asking for wisdom to sort through my books and goals and to-do's and ask, "Will this help me focus on Jesus?" Will it help me to give up on myself and to let Jesus make me the person I already am through His death and resurrection? Will it help me practice the presence of God or will it encourage me in my tendency to practicing the presence of self?

That is why the real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look out for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day... —C.S. Lewis

I pray that more and more we will be able to seek after the One True Thing, the Pearl of Great Price--Jesus. And stop trying to fill our days and our minds and our hearts with false substitutes and cheap imitations.

How about you? Do you know Him or do you know about Him?