Tuesday, March 3, 2009
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. ”
I heard some very interesting insights once from a psychologist friend of mine who claimed that you could tell a lot about a couple’s marriage by the way that they share a meal together. It was a little weird to hear him talk about this, but interesting none the less. He said that one of his favorite things to do was to observe people in restaurants. He would watch couples and theorize about how their relationship was going by their body language, by the way the couple looked at one another, by the way they communicated, or didn’t, by the way they sat, by the way the husband talked to the waitress, if they ordered dessert, and so on. My friend said that there was a connection in how two people were present with one another and how intimate their relationship is. I think that there is something to this.
My favorite band growing up was Led Zeppelin. They had an amazing album toward the end of their career that never got as much press as others called Presence. On this album cover, which always fascinated me, was a couple sharing a meal together with their family at what looks to be a fancy restaurant by the seaside at a marina. The family is dressed up, the couple is smiling, everyone has good posture and seems to be comfortable, they are leaning in slightly, and seem to be having a wonderful conversation while waiting on their waiter. This family looks like a model family with the perfect relationship and the picture makes you want to sit through this meal with them and be a part of the utopia. You want to be present with them.
I can’t help but wonder what my relationship with God looks like from an outsider’s perspective. Is God at the table with me? Am I there with Him? Have I left Him waiting? If I were sharing a meal with the Jesus in a fancy restaurant down by the seaside, would I be present? What would people be able to observe about my intimacy with the Lord by us dining together? How comfortable would I be? Would I be present?
Brother Lawrence, formerly known as Nicholas Herman, wrote an amazing work entitled The Practice of the Presence of God. In this work Brother Lawrence, a member of the Discalced Carmelite order in Paris, set out to record his own living of every moment in “the presence of God (Foster, Devotional Classics, p. 369).” Lawrence worked in the kitchen as a servant of his fellow servants of God. He sought to have no difference between prayer time and everyday living and working. All was the same to him. He sought to possess God in all that he did in equal tranquility as if he were on his knees in prayer.
Brother Lawrence blended work and everyday mundane living into a time of intimacy in the presence of God almighty. As Richard Foster puts it in Devotional Classics, “Perhaps no other writing in all of Christian literature so beautifully and simply expresses the joy of living in the presence of God (Foster, p. 369).” Brother Lawrence sought one thing and that one thing was to “to become wholly God’s.” Lawrence said, “I resolved to give my all for God’s all (Foster, p. 370).”
As I reflect on Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God and Led Zeppelin’s album Presence, I am struck by the stark contrast and the striking comparison. In the lyric of the song Tea for One, on Zeppelin’s album Presence, the song says, “There was a time that I stood tall, in the eyes of other men. But by my own choice I left you, and now I can't get back again.” I love Brother Lawrence’s resolve to always practice God’s presence and to never leave God’s presence. It was a choice for Lawrence to open the door to God constantly and to dine intimately with Him. It is, after all, our choice to “leave God” or to practice His presence. By God’s own nature and attributes He is omnipresent, all present, so it is our choice to acknowledge and practice His presence.
May we dine with God in a perpetual present intimacy as Brother Lawrence sought to practice God’s presence and may it never be said of us and may we never utter the words of sorrow from a “Tea for One” “But by my own choice I left you, and now I can't get back again.”
Omnipresent: 1. always present everywhere, continuously and simultaneously present throughout the whole of creation. 2. found everywhere, present or seemingly present all the time or everywhere (Encarta Dictionary: English).
Encarta Dictionary: English (North America)
Foster, Richard J., Smith, James Bryan. Devotional Classics, Revised and Expanded. HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY. 1990.
The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. Re 3:20