In Your Presence

I do not know what is happening with me. There is this amazing connection that I am having with God right now.

My dream has always been to see a 24/7/365 kind of relationship with God (You - for I write this blog to You and for You). I remember reading Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence in the early 80's and felt like I had a new role-model. I specifically remember leaving Gill Coliseum on the OSU Campus one night, being tilted over by some strange encounter with Diane's guy friend, Chris. I cried out to You with the desire to not let strange encounters with others derail me from Your precious presence. It became my passion and something in which to strive because "In Your presence is fullness of joy and pleasures forever" (Psalm 16:11). Yet, being the emotional self that I am, it has always been difficult. Those bi-monthly extended times of prayer helped to recalibrate me, but by the end of the sixty days, I was undone again. Oh, to be undone only by God because of His overwhelming presence. That is what I yearned for more than anything.

Later in my journey, I read excerpts from Frank Laubach's (1884-1970) Letters by a Modern Mystic where he resolved: "I would succeed better this year with my experiment of filling every minute full of the thought of God than I succeeded last year. And I added another resolve -- to be as wide open toward people and their need as I am toward God. Window open outward as well as upward." 

Somehow, Frank's effort seemed so realistic with little increments of growth year by year. He also did not live a monastic existence as Brother Lawrence did. His inward and outward growth were simultaneous. I wanted that moment by moment experience of God in the midst of the daily grind of life with "tilting people."

The life change that we made over three years ago (June 16, 2006 was our moment of deliverance from a very unhealthy situation) seems to have contributed to me not going so far into the quicksand that I can't look up. I no longer stare into space at the dinner table. I'm there with my family in everything. There is no "back burner" stress stemming from the "crazy-makers" that permeated my past spiritual environment. I don't have to sludge through mud to get to Your presence anymore. No more quicksand, miry clay. You've set my feet upon a rock and made my footsteps firm (Psalm 40:1-3). The path to Your presence is less obstructed these days.

Even though I did a lot of grieving from 2006-2008, the deaths did more to stabilize me than knock me off Your rock. In October of 2006, Bruce was diagnosed with melanoma. In March 2007, my aunt fell, went into a coma, and died. In May, my cousin was murdered in a drug-related incident. In August, it became apparent that my mom was slipping away, and I cared for her all of November 2007 until she slid into heaven. Then, friends died (Jeanne, Bruce, and Jane) and parents of friends died. Last of all and probably most difficult because of his spiritual state, my brother died a lonely, alcohol-related death on the floor of his mobile home. Although I may not have realized it at the time, I was in deep mourning for over a year because my focus was more outward in the care of my mom and care for my friends who lost their spouse or parent. This didn't tilt me. Something about death puts it all in perspective, and I can concur with Solomon on this one:

"It is better to go to the house of mourning,
than to go to the house of feasting:
for that is the end of all men;
and the living will lay it to his heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter:
for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning;
but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth" (Eccl. 7:2-4)

So, my mourning is over. The fruit of the last three years has been more 24/7/365 than I have ever known in my life. I am 50. I am thankful. I am humbled. I am at peace. I am surrounded by so much love.

I am undone.

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