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Posts Tagged ‘Practicing God’s Presence’

(reblogged from 10-24-13)

“Mail’s here early today!” called Lorna, as she entered the kitchen.

Oh, that was good news. Living far from home in Quito, Ecuador made letters a very precious commodity.

“Terrific!” I responded, and dashed upstairs to get my keys.

Lorna and her husband, Elbert, served as missionaries with HCJB. I was a short-termer, living with them for the four months of my assignment as a preschool and kindergarten teacher.

 

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The compound was only a brief walk from the house. Once there, it was just a matter of unlocking the gate, heading down the main walkway a short distance, up a few steps, and into the post office alcove where all our mailboxes were located.

I jogged the whole way there and back, excited to read my mail. But no sooner did I return home than my head started to pound, nausea engulfed me, and all I wanted to do was lie down. Never mind those coveted letters!

My problem was not a sudden onset of the flu, but mild hypoxia–oxygen deprivation. Quito is located 10,000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains.

My experience (as well as those of countless others) proves: we humans require oxygen—lots of it.

Even folks who live near sea level can suffer from lack of oxygen, because they’ve become accustomed to shallow breathing. Their bodies never receive enough oxygenated air, causing them to feel short of breath and anxious.

On the other hand, research has proven that deep breathing helps us manage stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and even spark brain growth. By not taking slow, deep breaths now and again, we deprive ourselves of these benefits.

M-m-m. Reminds me of Ecclesiastes 2:10-11, where King Solomon lamented the results of shallow living: chasing after wealth, accomplishments, and pleasure. In the end, nothing gave him lasting satisfaction and fulfillment.

Shallow living brings on symptoms in the spirit, similar to oxygen deprivation in the mind and body: heartache, fatigue with life, nausea from repetitive, meaningless activity, and shortness of temper.

In contrast to Solomon’s lament in Ecclesiastes is Paul’s praise to God for the power and strength of deep living:

“Oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength” (Ephesians 1:19, MSG)!

Deep living happens when we breathe in God’s strength with a prayer, his wisdom and encouragement with a scripture, his joy with a song.

Deep living happens when we practice his presence as automatically as we breathe.

And how do we do that, “practice his presence?”

By pausing frequently throughout each day, to turn our attention to God.

I might say such things as:

  • Thank You, Lord, for this new day. Work through me to accomplish your purpose.
  • I love you, Heavenly Father. Thank you for filling my heart with peace and joy every time I turn my attention to you.
  • Thank you for your power at work in me as I complete this task.
  • The wonders of your creation–graceful tree branches dancing in the breeze, lyrical songs of the mockingbirds, delicious aromas of pine and orange blossoms–They make my heart sing with praise!
  • Oh, Lord, I shouldn’t have spoken to Mary like that. Forgive me, I pray. Help me to think before I speak. And yes, I will apologize to her.

Refreshing. Energizing. Purifying. Like a deep breath of oxygen.

Shallow breathing causes a lesser quality of life. So does shallow living.

Deep breathing fosters strength of mind and body. Deep living does that and more.

Deep living radically transforms the spirit.

Let’s breathe/live deep!

* * * * * * * * * *

What deep living habits help you practice the presence of God?

(photo credit: http://www.wikipedia.com)

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Behind our new home stand many large trees that border a small creek. As the sun goes down, fireflies rise from the grass and slowly soar higher and higher until the trees appear decorated for Christmas. Hundreds of glimmering lights sparkle against the deep dark of night.

 

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God’s creative handiwork, right in our own backyard.  

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On the Fourth of July our family attended the local Independence Day parade. While waiting for the festivities to begin, a young boy seated next to us chatted with me every now and then.

One time he commented, “Wow! There’s not even one cloud in the sk___ …Wait a minute. There’s a little one over there.”

We both studied the wisp of vapor for a moment. “It’s disappearing already,” he added.

Together we witnessed the last visible curl evaporate away.   My attention returned to people-watching.

But the boy suddenly cried out, “There it is again!”

Sure enough, the water droplets had regathered themselves.

It was then I noticed a phenomenon that I’d missed before. In the area of that little cloud was a faint veil of fog, barely visible. Millions, perhaps billions of water droplets were suspended there all along.

The boy and I only noticed them when they drew together in a dense gathering.

Watching the cloud reform, the boy exclaimed, “Cool!”  Cool indeed.

 

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God’s ingenious engineering of the elements, right above the street.

*     *   *     *     *

After dinner recently Steve said, “I’ll do the dishes.”

Now lots of husbands probably do the dishes now and then. But do they also do the cooking? My Steve does! He actually enjoys it, and almost always takes care of the cleanup, too. (Sorry, he’s not for sale.)

 

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God’s love expressed to me through my loving husband, right there in our kitchen.  

*     *     *     *     *

Our toddler granddaughter loves the swings at the park. “Weeee!” she squeals with each push.  For her it’s a new, exciting delight.

Actually, Elena’s days are filled with new discoveries: the ping-sound of a metal post when struck with a stick, the mystery of bubbles that disappear with a touch, the slow, spiral dance of a dropped feather.

Her eyes sparkle; her smiles and laughter indicate intense pleasure.

 

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God’s gift of joy on display right in our own family.  

*     *     *     *     *  

And paying attention to all of these manifestations makes me more aware of his presence.

And awareness of his presence changes my heart.

Stress gives way to peace, tedium gives way to joy, striving gives way to contentment, fear gives way to consolation.

And surely God must smile when we live aware and celebrate his gracious provision.

*     *     *     *     *

I praise you, Father, for reminding me of your active, loving presence throughout each day, everywhere I go — even at a parade.  Thank you for ministering to my needs, assuaging my fears, comforting my hurts, and giving me joy.  What a gracious God you are!

 

(Photo credits:  www.billemory.com; http://www.spacious-passion.org; http://www.generationnext.com; www. projectnursery.com.)

 

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