I’d read his little book before, seeking his “spiritual secret,” his “method” of living close to God.
What he outlined seemed so simple. Yet “trying it,” I’d failed miserably, and so figured he must have just been some special kind of saint.
But last fall, when I picked up our tattered copy of The Practice of the Presence of God, suddenly several “little things” beamed forth as “key” — details that evidently flitted right past me before.
Context is important — and I now believe the context of Brother Lawrence’s life played large part in bringing forth his “practice’s” sweet and glorious fruit.
So these days, when afternoons grow hot and I grow sluggish, I hope to take (iced) tea with not only my dear Lord, but Brother Lawrence’s book as well, and pay close attention to details previously disregarded.
One each day. Only. To ponder its effect on the man’s life and relationship with God. Then maybe share here my thoughts and responses — something like weekly?
Today, how he saw trees …..
We don’t always miss “the forest” by considering individual trees. Brother Lawrence looked at just one tree — closely — and thereby “got” the message of the forest.
One day, at age 18 (early 1600’s), he gazed at the everyday… and grasped the everlasting.
It was a time of deadness. A vista of bare limbs, gray and stark, were all the hardwood forest had to offer human eyes. And his spiritual vision was still dim. Inside he felt dead like the trees looked. And he was.
But he had known spring’s wonder. And as he gazed upon bare branches, the thought of them in warming time began to warm his heart. He testified that…
“… seeing a tree stripped of leaves, and considering that within a little time the leaves would be renewed, and after that the flowers and fruit appear,
“he received a high view of the providence and power of God, which has never since been effaced from his soul.
“…This view had perfectly set him loose from the world, and kindled in him such a love for God that he could not tell whether it had increased during the… years he had lived since.”
This was not how I’d remembered it. My vague recollections mumbled something about him seeing a leaf turning over. And from there my mind skipped away, supposing he’d just given extra weight to some quirky experience.
But He was far from thinking of turning over the new leaf of some better habit. His thoughts were knowingly or unknowingly sunk deep into Colossians’ mysterious concept of the old man is dead, long live new life in Christ — about life replacing deadness, to grow vibrant and glowing and flowering and fruitful.
So, truths to consider now:
A heart’s conversion and spiritual growth is a work of God (John 3:5-8; Col 1:9-13; 2:13-15).
Brother Lawrence’s active role in this pivotal happening was…
beholding “a tree stripped of leaves”
pondering the renewal of coming spring.
Things he received (passive) — and from where but from God?…
“a high view of the providence and power of God”.
getting “perfectly set… loose from the world,”
“and [getting] kindled in him such a love for God”
So, if I want to be able to relate more closely with God, don’t I need to look to and petition Him? Don’t I need His help?
Seems like that’s Step One: Look to Him. And ask.
Today’s post continues a thought thread on “dressing” for Christ-living — of abiding, wrapped up in Him. Previous posts following the theme:
SO MANY REASONS FOR MY HEART TO PRAISE HIM
(Continuing the Count)
From Isaiah 61:
212 – Because He heals the brokenhearted
213 – Because He proclaims liberty to the captives, and the opening of all kinds of prisons to those who are bound
214 – Because He has brought about the acceptable year of His favor
215 – Because He will bring about His Day of Vengeance
216 – Because He provides comfort for all who mourn in Zion
217 – Because He gives beauty to replace ashes
218 – Because He gives the oil of joy for mourning
219 – Because He gives the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness
220 – Because He does all this so that His own may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified!
221 – Because He replaces shame with double honor
222 – Because He replaces confusion with rejoicing
223 – Because He loves justice
224 – Because He hates robbery for burnt offering
225 – Because He will direct the work of His own in truth
226 – Because He makes and keeps an everlasting covenant
227 – Because He clothes His own in garments of salvation
228 – Because He covers His own with a robe of righteousness
229 – Because He adorns them as a bride is adorned with her jewels
230 – Because as the earth brings forth its bud, as the garden makes the things sown in it to spring forth, so the LORD God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.