...if we are to practice God's presence truly, our hearts must be emptied of everything else. We cannot have the presence of God and an ambition for fame or money. We cannot have the presence of God and a love of luxury, or success, or prestige. Our desire must be first and foremost for Him, with these other things taking the places He has allowed them to have in our lives. He cannot possess our hearts unless first He has emptied out the part that is already filled by someone or something else. ...this is not a dry, negative, hard thing. It is not the end of pleasure, but its true beginning. For there is no life more delightful or satisfying than one spent in continual conversation with God, as anyone who has experienced it will testify. But let me add a warning: don't set out to practice the presence of God in order to obtain these joys and pleasures. It is God we seek, not delights or satisfactions. We long to be with Him because we love Him, not because He hands out good things to those who are nearest to Him.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Pastor Ken Wytsma of Antioch (in Bend, Oregon) is doing an expositional series on 1 Peter. Yesterday, focusing on the first verses of chapter 2, he preached on our desires. The Lord must be wanting to drive a message home to me, because after hearing that sermon I came across this passage from David Winter's Closer Than a Brother (a modern paraphrase of Brother Lawrence's Practicing the Presence of God)...