By Kristin Clouse
This week I have been reading Brother Lawrence’s writings and I have found myself once again challenged. This challenge is one of those that goes to your core, to the core of who I am, what I believe, and has challenged me to do some deep introspective work within myself.
In Practicing His Presence we read “I cannot imagine how a Christian can live a satisfied Christian experience without the practice of being in the presence of Christ. For my part, I keep myself retired with Him in the center of my soul as much as I can. While I am with Him I fear nothing.” (69)
Retired with Christ.
Is that what I am doing?
Is God truly the center of my soul?
It’s interesting that this word retired means that one has given up their work and completed, ended their service time of that work and going in to another season, time in their life. So to be retired with Christ that must mean that I must give up, freely, my works, my striving, and be at complete rest, seclusion of my heart, solely given to Christ. Is that what I am doing?
Another passage a few pages before this one stated: “If a Christian is to truly practice the presence of his Lord, and do so properly, then the heart of that Christian must be empty of all else. All. Why? Because God wills to possess that heart, and He wills to be the only possessor of that heart, and the only possession in that heart. He cannot be the only possessor of your heart unless it is empty of all else. He cannot put what He desires into a heart unless that heart has been left vacant for Him alone to refill it.” (66)
What’s interesting as I read this last night and then came back this morning, I read something completely different. Although at first thought I could say that it was a mistake of what I read, a twisting of a word, but really I believe it was God speaking to me. Where it says that “He wills to be the only possessor of that heart” I read “He wills to be the only processor of that heart”.
A twist of words, yes, could be in part that I came home sick from work, but nonetheless let’s look at that for a moment. If God is the only processor of our heart, that means all things, thoughts, experiences, past and present, go through God, then life would be viewed very differently. God is now our filter or so that is what He should be. He is the center of our soul and all goes through Him. If that were true then I would respond very differently.
This twist of words led me to look deeper into myself and ask this very question “If God was the processor of all that I experience, see, think, hear, believe, and feel, how different would I be?”
Just thinking on that one question, one concept of God being my processor, changes me. This would mean that my experiences, good and bad in life, would no longer dictate how I react in situations. God would lead me to healthy responses. Insecurities would not be triggered, fear would be gone, past hurts would not be there, just God leading me in what I say and do.
Lord, I so want to be at that place.
I believe that Brother Lawrence has the keys to getting to that place and it is found in his writings. As I spend more and more time with Christ, as He becomes the sole possessor of my heart, as Christ fills my soul as I am retired with Him, I am changed.
What once was so important no longer matters.
What once held me, past memories begin to fade.
New love and passion fills my heart and I become bound to Christ and no longer bound to my past. Christ is now my present and I am filled with His presence. It is then that Christ becomes our processor.
Whenever we go back to the old ways of processing experiences and information that is a red flag that we have moved away from Christ being our center. It’s as if we stepped out of that place and into the old. What is vital at that point is that we move back toward Christ, not focusing on the circumstances that led us away, but only on Christ. We may need to pull ourselves aside to do this, for some it may take but a moment, however we do it, that is the key. Being in Christ’s presence moment by moment is what is vital to our healthy living and spiritual growth.
Now I do realize that Brother Lawrence was a monk that lived in a different time period and he did not have the busyness of life around us like we do, however let’s not make that our excuse and disregard his writings.
In the midst of our busy lives we can practice God’s presence moment by moment. This is something that I have been working on for the past year. I have been inspired by Brother Lawrence and Frank Laubach’s writings on this subject and I highly recommend their books.
This takes only a moment, but it does take many moments to do this. Throughout your day make time to acknowledge God. Now Frank Laubach’s challenge to himself was to acknowledge God every minute and that may be something that Christ challenges you to do as well. However, I am always aware that we do something in bite sizes so that we don’t throw the whole concept out because we get discouraged and may not live up to the challenge.
I challenge you to do this.
Pick a time, such as on the hour, a quarter after the hour, on the half hour, you get the idea. Now for some you may need to set an alarm, a reminder, and for others you may choose to not do that. Regardless of what your reminder is, every hour at that time stop and take a moment to acknowledge God.
This may come in the form of giving Him thanks, of telling Him you love him, or maybe basking in His presence without saying a word. Beth Moore shares how God challenged her to say “I love you too” and as I have done that I have been overwhelmed at times with God’s presence that has come over me like a wave of love.
However you do it, do this every hour. Now you may be like me, Frank Laubach shares this as well in his writings, and have days of utter failure.
That’s okay, keep trying. Don’t give up.
The more you do it, the more you become aware of God’s presence, practicing His presence and it becomes a habit. Remember the word practicing is in this. When we practice we have good days and not so good days. The point is to keep trying, keep pressing in and you will find a growth in your relationship with Christ.
So today my thoughts are on being retired with Christ and that He become my processor so that He can possess my heart.
The blog “Retired with Christ” first appeared on www.healingforoursoulgarden.com.
Kristin’s story is one of redemption, healing and restoration. As a child and teen she experienced sexual abuse and then she turned to drugs and alcohol to cope. As a young adult Kristin had a life changing encounter with Jesus, her Savior, and her life was forever changed. The moment Kristin accepted Jesus into her life, God began to lead her on an adventurous journey toward healing and restoration. Using creative arts as a tool, God brought Kristin back to life and led her into a deep relationship with Him, often calling her to sit at his feet. It was here He restored her through love and taught her what true intimacy really is. Kristin is a licensed counselor who is passionate about seeing women find freedom, healing and restoration in their own lives. She is a writer, counselor, speaker, teacher, mentor and leader to women. She is a storyteller and uses allegorical examples to impart life, freedom, and healing to many. She speaks on a variety of topics including teachings from her writing Healing for Our Soul Garden, which is about the restoration and healing process from sexual abuse, as well as leading and teaching women to grow in a deeper relationship with God. She is available to share according to your needs at your focused retreat, conference or workshop.
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