We are nearing the end of the Old Testament in our Gospel Project curriculum, and we are getting to the last of the prophets. Each of these prophets was sent to send a message to God’s people of repentance and continual surrender to God.
The Israelites had been captives in Babylon; they were set free and sent back to Jerusalem, one generation at a time, and God’s favor for them was restored. He helped them rebuild the walls around the city to establish safety and security. Once the walls were up, their expectations for what God was going to do for them also increased.
Building our own walls
Doesn’t that cycle sound just like life? We live our own ways, falling into sin and selfish desires, we become captives of our sinful lifestyle and have to be told to repent and surrender to God. Once God opens our eyes to the choices we’ve been making, we surrender and he sets us free.
Living in that freedom, we begin to build walls to hopefully establish some sense of security. The walls may look different for each person; separation from others (you know, so we aren’t tempted by them into a lifestyle of sin), burying ourselves in our work to keep unwanted distractions out, or immersing ourselves in Bible studies to help strengthen the walls we put up. Then we sit back and wait in anticipation for what God will do for us.
Practicing His Presence
When you think of it that way, it makes sense. It’s logical and practical. But something is missing. I am currently reading the book, “Practicing His Presence” by Brother Lawrence and Frank Laubach. The book talks about the personal experience these men have of living daily, hourly, minutely, and even secondly, in the presence of God. Recognizing Him and his presence in their everyday activities and living changed because of it.
When you live intentionally in the presence of God, recognizing and acknowledging His presence in your every move and breath, you become filled by Him. Your life looks different and you live much more intentionally.
“Our sanctification does not depend upon changing our works, but in doing for God’s sake all those things which we commonly do for our own.” (Practicing His Presence, Frank Laubach, pg. 56)
My Cup is Full, Now What?
A friend shared a quote with me recently that I cannot remember word for word, but the gist of it was, we cannot continue to fill ourselves up without being poured out. At some point we need to be willing to pour ourselves out, so that we will have space to be filled again.
This makes me think of living in God’s presence. When you are continually in the presence of God, your cup will be full. Your life should overflow and be poured out on others because of the fullness of Christ in you. When your life overflows to others, those walls that you so carefully built to keep “sin” out, will also fall.
Living poured out requires being in the trenches with those in need.
Living poured out cannot look like separation from others. It cannot be a life sitting behind a desk “getting work done”. Living poured out is taking each of those Bible studies you were involved in and actively and intentionally doing what they have taught, suggested and instructed.
How this changed my prayer time
Oftentimes people ask me to pray for them. They are in the midst of making a big decision or trying to figure out what God is asking them to do next. I’ve been there. I’ve been the one asking for prayer. But I think our mindset is all wrong.
I have learned that our prayers are often that God will show us the way to go or which decision to make so we will follow his plan and be in his will. When really we should be praying that God will show us why NOT to do whatever it is that he is asking or presenting for us. Should I go on this mission trip? Should I donate to this cause or help this person in need?
The question is not whether or not you should do something, it’s “God close this door before I walk through it if it is not what you want for my life.” Live in his presence daily so you are able to pour yourself out until God closes a door. And don’t you know, He will! He has done that many times in my life, and I know He will do that for you as well if that is your prayer.
Filling up on His presence
When we live continually in God’s presence and are filled by him moment by moment, we are then able to pour out to others and see the work of God in us, with us and through us, rather than building up our walls of protection and waiting for God to do his work around us. Be a part of what he is doing! Be filled by him at every moment! “Let it be your business to keep your mind in the presence of the Lord.” (Practicing His Presence, Brother Laurence, pg. 82)