I poured out my heart to him as we walked along the beach.
It was a season in my life when I traveled quite often for my job. I was blessed to have the sales territories of Florida, Washington, Oregon, and Colorado. I would always be sure to visit beaches and mountains as I traveled. The thought of being refreshed in the surroundings of beaches or mountains is what often pushed me out of my comfort zone for a business trip.
You see, I’m a homebody. I like to be safe at home in my own bed. I’ve never liked reading maps and figuring out new territories, traffic jams, and highways. But the thought of sitting on a beach after the work was done helped me to get on the next flight and into the next rental car. And my heart longed all week for that moment of stepping onto the beach when the work was done.
So there I was, walking on a quiet beach at sunset with my friend, Jesus. I was so caught up in the conversation that I was smiling and even moving my lips as I talked to him. I thought it was just us but then I looked over and saw a couple sitting in the sand watching me, smiling. I was a little embarrassed but I soon realized that they weren’t laughing at me. They seemed to be watching me and genuinely happy for me in what I was doing. It was almost as if they could see Jesus right there with me.
The moment has come to mind often in the past fifteen years since it happened. I’m reminded of it again as I consider the fourth of Brother Lawrence’s six ways necessary to develop the spiritual life in The Practice of the Presence of God. In case you missed my last four posts, they are linked below:
The First Way (Finding constant pleasure in His divine company)
The Second Way (Conversing with God in little ways while we do our work)
The Third Way (Do everything with great care)
Here is Brother Lawrence’s fourth way to practice the presence of God…
“We should stop for a few minutes – as often as possible – to praise God from the depths of our hearts, to enjoy Him there in secret. Since you believe that God is always with you, no matter what you may be doing, why shouldn’t you stop for awhile to adore Him, to praise Him, to petition Him, to offer Him your heart, and to thank Him?”
I treasure that moment with Jesus, but I also wish I would’ve realized back then that that moment didn’t have to wait until after my last appointment on the Friday of my business trip when I stepped onto the white powdery sand.
Don’t get me wrong, I remember praying my way through those trips. Asking for God’s protection and blessing in the strange cities I’d go to. Those prayers were often about me and for me. My longing would be for me to have realized the sweetness of adoring Jesus through prayer and praise as I endured the challenges of traveling.
So that moment on the beach is a reminder to me of how I long to be in all of life. In the challenges and in the blessings. I want to adore Jesus. Yes, I want to petition him, but I also want to thank and praise and adore.
He’s not just my shepherd, but He is my good shepherd.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23).
In the presence of all that might get in between us and Jesus, there is feast set before us. A feast that is waiting to be enjoyed and shared with him.
Our cups overflow with spiritual blessings, even when we don’t notice it.
I’m encouraging myself this week to remember that, at any moment, I can enjoy a feast of spiritual blessings with my good friend and shepherd.
“What could please God more than for us to leave the cares of the world temporarily in order to worship him in our spirits? These momentary retreats serve to free us from our selfishness, which can only exist in the world. In short, we cannot show God our loyalty to Him more than by renouncing our worldly selves as much as a thousand times a day to enjoy even a single moment with Him.
This doesn’t mean you must leave the duties of the world forever; that would be impossible. Let prudence be your guide. But I do believe that it is a common mistake of spirit-filled persons not to leave the cares of the world from time to time to praise God in their spirits and to rest in the peace of His divine presence for a few moments” (Brother Lawrence).
This is not on my radar every second of every day, but I’m praying for more of an awareness and more of a willingness to stop for a moment to do this. The more I do it, the more it becomes more natural to do it. I also believe that it blesses the Lord, and blesses us at the same time.
Fleeting thoughts about Jesus are no more expensive of our time than fleeting thoughts of fear, worry, or haste.
What about you? Do you find it easy to sacrifice a moment of praise?
Here are final two ways I’ll be covering the practice of the presence of God in the next weeks:
Adoring God in faith (next week!)
Carefully examining ourselves
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Linking up this week with these encouraging blogs: