The Practice Of God's Presence
Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy Presence? — Ps 139:7
If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me. — Ps 139:9-10
The story of the monk who constantly used this phrase is well known to most people. It was in the sixteenth century, one winter’s day, as Brother Lawrence was walking in the forest, he found himself standing beneath a tree stripped of its foliage. The thought suddenly flashed on him that before very long that same tree would be covered with the leaves and glory of spring. “Then God must be here,” said he to himself, and his whole being became awed and filled with the thought of God. That impression remained with him for the rest of his life, and he said that he was more deeply impressed with the actual sense of God’s Presence in the kitchen, when he was preparing the food for his brother monks, than when he was kneeling before the Sacrament.
It is a blessed experience when the soul lives in this awareness of God; when we live, and move, and have our being in Him; whether we take the wings of the morning, and go with the sun in its passage to the western sea, or descend into the valley of the shadow of death. Let us read this Psalm again, remembering that our Lord said, “Lo, I am with you all the days, even to the end of the age.”
The habit of practising God’s Presence is specially acquired when we accustom ourselves to draw on the Divine resources. We can recall two outstanding illustrations—one given by Abraham’s faithful servant, and the other by Nehemiah. In the one case, the traveller lifted up his heart to God for direction as to the choice of a wife for his master’s son; and the other tells us that between the king’s question as to the reason for his sadness, and his reply, he flashed a cry to God for a suitable answer, and it was given him. Why do not we, in every moment of uncertainty and perplexity, when the tempter draws near, instantly claim the equivalent of God’s gracious help?
Gracious Spirit, wilt Thou so enable us by Thy grace, that we may live in the fear of God all the day long; may the difficulties and temptations of our daily experience have the effect of leading us to take each step in the consciousness of the Presence of God. Amen.