This summer I read a book that has easily become one of my top five.
Soul Keeping, by John Ortberg, has stirred up stuff in me like few books ever have. Its premise is that I’ve been given only one soul, Jesus said it’s worth more than the whole world and I MUST watch over and care for it with great intentionality.
I’ve underlined almost the entire book, but there’s one quote that’s really stuck with me:
“How many moments of my life today can I fill with conscious awareness of and surrender to God’s presence?”
How many times in my day am I aware of His presence?
Because truthfully, God’s invitation is everywhere. He invites us to be with Him. He urges us to abide with Him. To walk in the light and stay near Him, right beside Him, covered and surrounded by His presence.
Because He knows that when we are with Him, we experience a really simple and beautiful outcome: JOY.
“In Your presence there is fullness of joy.” Psalm 16:11
Who doesn’t want more joy?
So often, though, we give our joy away. We give it away when our world spins. When to-do lists get bigger. When everyone wants something. When circumstances flip upside down.
We give away our joy and we hang on to what our eyes can see and respond in a way our hearts have come to know – responses of fear and impatience and anger, because they just seem to feel better in the moment. Fear, impatience and anger become our soothing blankets as we stay stuck in the awful (yet known) problems of life.
Because if we’re honest, known problems are easier than trying to reclaim joy.
It’s easier to keep complaining about it all than to seek His face. It’s easier to just keep reacting the same way, responding the same way, to stay stuck in the cycle of screwup, shame and repentance, than to open up a heart and allow God to truly change it from the inside out.
But what if we decided that known and same aren’t working anymore?
What if we decided we want to do this whole thing differently?
What if we took Jesus up on His relentless invitation to be with Him, be in His presence, and actually experienced His joy?
Oh, that sounds so great in theory. How in the world do I make that a reality?
Because habits are hard to break, aren’t they? The way we respond so often becomes a pattern, and when that pattern is negative, full of worry or frustration, that becomes our habit.
I hate that.
Attitudes will take hold or words will pour out of me, exposing that I’m not at all aware of His presence in that moment.
Today, however, what if I lived differently?
What if I lived aware of His presence?
Today, as your day builds…or circumstances move…or you’re tempted to fear, or complain…
…what if today you decided to stand up to some of those known and same responses and instead, whispered some of these…then said them louder:
God, YOU are with me.
Holy Spirit, I completely trust that You are working in this.
Lord, I set my eyes directly on You.
Holy Spirit, you are welcome here.
God, in Your presence there is fullness of joy.
In Your presence is fullness of JOY.
Above all else, God wants you with Him. So much good comes right in that place of being with Him in the middle of the beautiful mess of your every day life. God relentlessly pursues you, offering you an invitation to return to Him and be with Him.
Take Him up on it.
Let us become more aware of Your Presence, let us experience the glory of Your goodness…
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