In recent weeks I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be practicing the discipline of Presence. And I’ve been doing so because in today’s world, with everything that clamours for our attention, not to mention the effects of sin, it is easy to get distracted from the thing(s) that matter most. Namely, relationship. Relationship with God and others. It requires discipline to stay focused, to stay attentive, to stay present, and it also requires intentionality on our part.
I have spent the past five days away at my trailer camping. Camping has been a love since my late teens and has happened nearly every year since I graduated from high school (that was way back in 1987!). There’s something about nature that is soothing and restorative to my soul. The fresh air, the sound of birds singing (I’m sure they’re singing praises!), the way the leaves rustle when the wind blows through, the crackling sound from a great campfire, the ability to ride my bike or take long walks, the space to breathe and read my Bible and attend to the noise within my soul – all of these experiences are precious to me. Everyone is different, but for me, camping has always been restorative.
Now back to this idea or discipline of Practicing Presence. Maybe you’re wondering what it is. Here’s a brief description (if you’re at Simon House Ladies Retreat in September, I’ll be sharing more about it there): “It is a way we keep our soul awake to God.” It’s about being attentive to the ways in which God is present and active with us, in our world, and in others. It’s a way of loving Jesus, our Lord and Savior, and being attentive to his redeeming work in and among us. The question is never is God at work, it is, rather, where is God at work.
Here are some things I’ve been reminded of this week as my soul has been in a place of being awake to God:
- There is nowhere to hide from God. We “cannot not live our lives in the presence of God.” (Read and reflect on Psalm 139.)
- This side of Heaven, journeying with God is relational, experiential, and transformational. You cannot be in the presence of God and come away unchanged.
- It is critical to our soul’s wellbeing to have rest.
- To be called of God for His purposes is a gift and a grace, we are to steward that responsibility prayerfully, carefully, and wisely. And when we fall short, his love for us never changes and his grace is abundant.
- God loves us, delights in fellowshipping with us, and delights in using others to bless us. I needed to rest these last few days so I spent a lot of time alone, but when I did venture out, I went to my friend Stacey’s campsite. She gave me a facial and it blessed me. God was working through her to minister to me.
Some questions for you to ponder.
- What does it mean for your soul to be awake to God?
- When or where do you feel close to God?
- God, where are you at work?
- What might you need to do this week to Practice Presence with God? Yourself? Others?
May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you, and may you experience God this week in loving and transformational ways.
Note: Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlbert Calhoun is a great resource and is where any quotes above came from.
Here’s a couple photos from my last few days.
Carmen, through teaching, speaking, pastoring, blogging, and podcasting, invests in others so they can lead and live better. She is the founder of LEAD Women Ministries, ordained with the PAOC, an Associate Pastor at Westside Pentecostal Church, holds an MA in Leadership & Management, and she can often be found collaborating with other leaders or organizations on projects where there are outcomes to grow people’s confidence, competence, and character.