SWEETLY divine in the most human of ways — the writings of Brother Lawrence (1614–1691). Such do these writings occur as direct from the courts of God that a reader will readily be caught up in a firestorm of much delight for learning The Practice of the Presence of God.
“God often permits that we should suffer a little in order to purify our souls and oblige us to continue with Him… Take courage, offer Him your pains incessantly, and pray to Him for strength to endure them.”
Oh divine plot that resonates within,
That sense within that we’re in a spin,
Help me, Lord, to now attain,
Knowledge of how wonderful
It’s to lose to gain.
“Often permits…” as in the Joban account, God does not bring this suffering about, but the evil that wishes to test our righteousness (that we say we have in Jesus’ name) is given scope to test, because God has faith in us; in our ability to overcome through the power in his name. And because this is how God thwarts the enemy; the Lord knows we only grow in patiently enduring the cauldron in making of us a crucible.
“Suffer a little…” as compared with the Christ man; that man suffered more than we could ever contemplate in truth or more fully imagine. Our suffering seems so much for us, and God knows it is; that it tips us over into dependence on him, if our pride can be capitulated. Pride is the biggest problem in suffering, for suffering in humility is the bridge to growth.
“To purify our souls…” for further allegiance to, and going on with, God. Here is a transaction for you: consider purity of heart as a direct correlation to the practice of the Presence of God. We cannot come very close to God, in the reality of his Spirit, if we haven’t been daily cleansed and renewed. The great test of purity of soul is to see the truth; as Brother Lawrence puts is, “I would willingly ask of God a part of your sufferings, but that I know my weakness — which is so great that if He left me one moment to myself, I should be the most wretched man alive.”
Purity of heart is to know our weakness, and our propensity of harm without God.
It’s a most paradoxical value. When we think of ourselves least, where God is most, and all others are most worthy of our love, we’re blessed with purity of heart.
“Continue with Him…” into the glory of his Presence, more and more. Brother Lawrence wants to testify to the fact of his faith: he can no longer be in any ways lost, for his faith is indelible to the truth: God is good, and he never leaves us nor forsakes us.
Even when life is horrible, there is much cause for joy. And only the one and only true God — through Jesus Christ — can do that in our hearts.
Experience it once, believe it to be true of our experience, and we see it ever more.
We cannot let go of him who has sought us and bought us and wrought us.
“Take courage… and pray” for this is our duty night and day. God will not fail to show us his shimmering esteem when we truly give our all to him in prayer.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.