Saturday, September 05, 2009

Practice of the Presence...

I'm currently reading "The Practice of the Presence of God," written by Brother Lawrence in the 15th century. It's crushing me.

It is just so hard to practically be aware of God's presence throughout the entire day. Seriously, try it; especially in our culture, I dare you. It seems we've gotten very good, and I the chief of all, at compartmentalizing God. We have "quiet times" and "prayer times" and then we go on throughout our day with little recognition of the reality of MT 28:20 that says "...I am with you whereever you go."

I do this so much that in thinking on it now I almost literally sick to my stomach. My thought is "ok, I've finished my time with Jesus, and I've finished my faithful acts (supporting raising stuff) today, so now I can enjoy myself! What's on tv?! What football games are on, or are coming up? How is my fantasy football team?" God takes the sidelines and Bart's pleasures take the forefront. It breaks my heart. Oh wretched man than I am, who can save me!? Where can I find hope?

I give my life to lesser things; sports, movies and the like. These things are not bad, but they are undoubtedly lesser. The presence of and intimacy with God in all things is a much more noble pursuit. I think you can enjoy God in the midst of sport, and I think you can enjoy God in the midst of games or movies or just about anything; but I just haven't figured out a healthy way to do it. I don't watch football, for example, and enjoy it with the Lord; I watch football and movies because they entertain, because I can shut off my mind and watch. I enjoy the neurological and emotional impulses those things bring. Really, to be completely honest, is it any different that simple self-gratification? Can entertainment of this sort be any different than a drug addict getting his "fix?" Help please, if you have wisdom on the topic. Share with me some insight into how you enjoy Christ in and during sport or television or video games or movies. I could use it.

And how do you not feel as though you are compartmentalizing God? When is entertainment "healthy" for you, and not just self-pleasure bringing?

My problem is we've gotten very good at justifying things. "I enjoy God's creation when I golf" or "I enjoy redemptive stories in movies because it makes me think of Jesus" or "I love reading because it sharpens my mind/imagination/knowledge/whatever which allows me to more fully grasp and love God." Those are very real things and I admittedly feel the same about all of them. But is it very different from "I just love golf" and "I love movies" and "I love books?" Do we just do whatever we like and then twist God into it? Is that really death to self? Is that denying all and embracing our cross to follow Jesus? I find this tension difficult.

Can you help? Do you have any advice or wisdom to offer?

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