Practicing the Presence

1 Kings 19:11-13

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

I often search and long to know the presence of God, but the truth is that God’s presence is always with me, but it may be unveiled in different ways. Elijah was told to go to Mount Horeb for the LORD would appear to him there. Three events happened before the LORD spoke: a wind, an earthquake, and a fire. But when the gentle whisper came, Elijah immediately knew it was the LORD.

We live in a fast-paced world. Our day planners fill up with back to back meetings or appointments after work we rush to and from activities. It is a struggle to be still with the presence of God.

Sometimes it takes a loud, chaotic event to get our attention to the gentle whisper.

St. Francis De Sales writes: “Several times during the day, … ask yourself for a moment if you have your soul in your hands or if some passion or fit of anxiety has robbed you of it. … Quietly bring your soul back to the presence of God, subjecting all your affections and desires to the obedience and direction of his divine will.”

Something that keeps coming up through this study of practicing the presence is “rest” slowing down and obedience. In the book, Benedict’s Way, there was an observation of the word obedience in chapter 26. The word comes from the Latin root – to listen. Rest, listening, quiet, gentle, this leads us to a place of love and yielding to God’s way, and through that, God meets us and appears to us.

Adele Calhoun writes, in her book Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, “We all live our lives in the presence of God. In fact, we cannot not live our lives in the presence of God.” … “Practicing the presence is a way of living into a deeper awareness of God’s activity in our lives. Through many small pauses we begin a habit of turning our heart toward God. Through these acts of attention, we express our intention to live in union with Christ. Before we pick up the phone we might say, “Lord I am here. Help me listen.”

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