Wednesday, January 30, 2013

26 January 1930

Already...already I have not fulfilled my resolution to post about God's minute by minute presence on the same day as Frank Laubach did in 1930. This should have been posted on January 26 and here it is the 30th already. However, Laubach's 1/26 entry  includes this comment: "I am feeling God in each movement, by an act of will -- willing that He shall direct these fingers that now strike this typewriter -- willing that He shall pour through my steps as I walk -- willing that He shall direct my words as I speak, and my very jaws as I eat!" Therefore, following God's directions moment by moment is more important that deciding that I should match up my days of writing with Laubach's.

Oh, if only I had had such a high and lofty reason for not writing. I confess on the 26th, I was just trying to get through the day with two grandchildren, one sick husband, a visiting daughter, and her two guests, all staying in my house that is under renovation due to broken water pipes. You will want to give me the benefit of the doubt, yes? You will hope that throughout that day I practiced the words of Laubach's boyhood hymn:

     Moment by moment, I'm kept in His love;
     Moment by moment, I've life from above;
     Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine;
     Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.

Well, yes, but it wasn't anything conscious on my part. I was kept in His love; I did have life from above, I am His: I just can't say that I consciously looked to Jesus moment by moment.

Yet, I sense something in this second (third? fourth?) reading of this entry -- God highlighting Laubach's two burning passions and particularly the second passion: "to respond to God as a violin responds to the bow of the master." Violins do not think, "Oh, now, see how the master is drawing the letter C across my strings; now he is plucking me so I must make this sound." No, the violin responds the way it was always meant to respond to a Master Musician because of the hands of a Master Craftsman. My analogy of course breaks down because we are indeed created to think and give glory to Him. Still, I am discovering days when His presence is so all-encompassing that we have no need of words. I look back and find that I have responded to His presence in a way that pleases Him (no, not 24/7, but the signs of His presence in my life, the signs of His mind within me, the signs of His living and breathing in me, are there). And, I hang onto the hope that He who started a good work will indeed bring it to completion.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Minute By Minute

Familiarity breeds contempt, so the ancient proverb states. However, I have learned that proverbs are not meant as sure promises or guarantees. They often are true, but not always. Familiarity with God has not bred contempt; although, who can truly say she is "familiar" with God and His ways.

His ways include "coincidences" such as finishing up a study in James, turning to Laubach's January 20th entry and discovering God is speaking the same words to me in two different texts. God has done this enough times, I would think such happenings would become mundane; instead, I am nudged into attention.

The English teacher in me is already happy with the attention I have been paying to James as he writes: "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greetings (chairein - Joy to you!). Count it all joy (charan), my brethren when you might fall into various temptations..." Look at that wonderful sentence flow! The first sentence ends with joy, and he picks up the linking word of joy at the beginning of the next sentence. A+ James!

The challenge (and coincidence) happens when I actually stop to consider the content: Joy at the possibility of temptations? Beth Moore writes in her Mercy Triumphs study of James, " we have a better plan? Let's do what the first word...says: let's 'consider' our options. What are my other plans, and how do they pan out? Sometimes our root issue is that we don't want to be forced into anything. We need to know we really do have options. Let's think through three. Identify your most pressing personal trial right now....Now, consider the fruit of each of the three. What do you believe the five-year ramifications would be for each of those courses of action?...Food for thought, isn't it? While counting our trials joys because of the treasures they can bring may be the hard choice in the beginning, most of us would have to admit that the other options don't pan out as well (46).

Laubach writes, "But this year I have started out trying to live all my waking moments in conscious listening to the inner voice, asking without ceasing, 'What, Father, do you desire said? What, Father, do you desire done this minute?' It is clear that this is exactly what Jesus was doing all day every day. But it is not what His followers have been doing in very large numbers"(20 January 1930).

If I fill my mind with worries about all the temptations I will face today, how I will deal with them, how I will probably fail and have to clean up some mess, as I try to figure out all the scenarios, i realize i have a different option: i can obey GOD step by step: What, Father, do you desire said? What, Father, do you desire done this minute? And, i (little 'i') can let HIM deal with the rest. When that happens, my day begins and ends with joy.

Friday, January 04, 2013

An Exploratory Expedition of a New World

Frank Laubach writes of his "Game with Minutes": "[It] is a rather lighthearted name...Many of us have found it to be enormously helpful. It is a new name for something as old as Enoch, who 'walked with God.' It is a way of living which nearly everybody knows and nearly everybody has ignored. Students will at once recognize it as a fresh approach to Brother Lawrence's 'Practicing the Presence of God.'"

"We call this a 'game' because it is a delightful experience and an exhilarating spiritual exercise; but we soon discover that it is far more than a game. Perhaps a better name for it would be 'an exploratory expedition,' because it opens out into what seems at first like a beautiful garden; then the garden widens into a country; and at last we realize that we are exploring a new world. This may sound like poetry, but it is not overstating what experience has shown us. Some people have compared it to getting out of a dark prison and beginning to LIVE. We still see the same world, yet it is not the same, for it has a new glorious color and a far deeper meaning. Thank God, this adventure is free for everybody, rich or poor, wise or ignorant, famous or unknown, with a good past or a bad--'Whosoever will, may come.' The greatest thing in the world is for everybody!" (Loc 704)

Dallas Willard writes also of this new world in the prelude to his book Renovation of the Heart: "When we open ourselves to the writings of the New Testament, when we absorb our minds and hearts in one of the Gospels, for example, or in letters such as Ephesians or 1 Peter, the overwhelming impression that comes upon us is that we are looking into another world and another life."(italics mine)

"It is a divine world and a divine life. It is life in the 'kingdom of the heavens.' Yet is a world and a life that ordinary people have entered and are entering even now. It is a world that seems open to us and beckons us to enter. We feel its call.

"The amazing promises to those who give their life to this new world through their confidence in Jesus leap out at us from the page.

"For example, we read Jesus' own words, that those who give themselves to him will receive a 'living water,' the Spirit of God Himself, that will keep them from ever again being thirsty -- being driven and ruled by unsatisfied desires -- and that this 'water' will become a well or spring of such water 'gushing up to eternal life' (John 4:14, PAR). Indeed, it will even become 'rivers of living water' flowing from the center of the believer's life to a thirsty world (John 7:38)" (p 9, loc 135).

A new world open to all, but few of us walk through that door. How strange as I wrote that last sentence I thought of a Kafka parable "Before the Law." Glancing at the story now (after many years have past since I first read it), I see that it is a longer and more complex story than my memory recalled. Without a closer look, I'm still going to write that it occurs to me that many of us stay out of this new world because of doorkeepers in our minds. For Laubach's friends, turning one's mind toward God one second of every minute of the day simply could not be done. According to Willard, we read the Gospels and the doorkeepers tell us "that the life [we] see there is so unlike what [we] know from [our] own experience" that we "neglect," "avoid," and/or "fail to immerse" ourselves in the words of Jesus.

What if, one by one, we start living as the free women and men of God that we are, and we take steps to walk through that door? Doorkeepers are employees of one with a greater authority. Doorkeepers must stand aside and let the residents enter. The One in authority has invited us into His kingdom. Why are we standing outside?

Thursday, January 03, 2013

3 January 2013

As I want to be able to respond to other readings, I have decided to only post on Frank Laubach's Letters of a Modern Mystic on the dates included in his book. However, I have a problem. I'm not sure what I want to say today. So, I will start with Laubach's opening words:

"To be able to look backward and say, 'This, this has been the finest year of  my life' -- that is glorious! But anticipation! To be able to look ahead and say, 'The present year can and shall be better!' -- that is more glorious!

"If we said such things about our achievements, we would be consummate egotists. But if we are speaking of God's kindness, and we speak truly, we are but grateful. And this is what I do witness. I have done nothing but open windows -- God has done all the rest. There have been few if any conspicuous achievements. There has been a succession of marvelous experiences of the friendship of God."

I know now what I will share. Today, I stopped every time I didn't know what I should do next. I said, "I'm lost. I am overwhelmed with so much to do." And, I waited. When the impression of the next step came, I took it. And, I have found that much has been accomplished. Even the writing of this particular post. I felt pressured by time constraints. Yet, I said, "God, if you intend me to finish this today, then it will be finished. If you do not, then I will go my way in peace knowing that you have chosen my path."