Becoming present to Jesus

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Present to God and present to my self, then only out of that to be present to others.

That’s what I came away with at the end of my retreat.  In a week which was all about an inner work he was doing in my very being, I saw this more clearly than ever.  That soul work, by the way, is why – for the grammatical freaks among you – I have written myself as I have.  (I clarify that because I know that if I were reading, that would be bothering me.  Most of my readers, on the other hand, may be rolling their eyes at me right now, I suspect!)

It was a week like few others.  A baptism in his Spirit…again.

Don’t get me on that one, by the way: I just cannot agree with subsequent Spirit-baptism theologically.  But like it happened to me in Cambridge those many years ago, something happened again this last week.  And I drank more deeply than I have for a long, long while.

Though it was not a silent retreat and though I enjoyed some of our mealtime interactions as a group, I was largely quiet.  It was not because those ladies who were there are not beautiful.  It was not because I didn’t want to talk long over coffee and laugh and cry and smile again.  Part of me did want that.  But I hadn’t gone there for that.  I’d gone to become present to Jesus again.

And as the hours passed, my heart began to quieten in the beautiful peace of Penhurst.  Some places are thin places.  This is one of them, a place where the peace of God hangs heavy, his presence at times thicker than I have known.  Yes, even as I write this, my CICCU roots begin to stir, to deny the reality of what I am saying I experienced.  But I know what I touched this week gone and it was the very stuff of reality.

Something broke on the Tuesday evening.  It’s difficult to say what, with these things.  But something changed and, in that shifting, I became present to him in a way which I have rarely known.  Much about that I cannot share but it was beautiful.  I became present to Jesus for those three days such that prayer was natural and my mind was on him.  I became present to Jesus for those three days such that he was free to do a deep work  in my very self which was beyond my ability even to ask him for.

I became present to Jesus and present to my self and, for that time, largely absent to others.  Yet in those rhythms of corporate prayer several times a day, and in the days this week since then, there have been moments of praying for and with others.  And what has blown me away is the accompanying power as we have prayed.  To move in the prophetic has been as easy as breathing.  There has been an unusual assurance of prayers heard.  And there have been some of the physical manifestations that can at times move on the frailty of human flesh as we somehow touch the hem of the Almighty’s garment, things which every analytical bone in my overly-intellectual body wants to question and doubt, yet which come upon me despite my efforts at rationalisation.

As I’ve reflected on these times, I’ve been reminded again of one of my sabbatical posts about the kind of leader he calls me to be.  There I wrote of the call to stillness, the place of being.  The longing to be reflective and responsive and relaxed in God’s presence so that I could be that way in your presence too.  It’s the Mary thing again.  The reality that it always, always comes back to her for me.

And in this I’ve heard God’s call.  Unmistakable in his insistence.  Present to God and present to my self, then only out of that to be present to others.  That’s what he’s asking of me now.  Whereas I tend to fill my life with people whom I can love and serve, whereas I give my time without measure, whereas I become addicted to the activity of it all – and in it all forget him – he now claims my heart.  Whereas I have so often been present to others and absent to him and to my self, now he calls me another way.

Present to him and to my self.  Disciplined to be mostly absent to others.  And, out of that, a new dynamic of presence to him which overflows in presence to others.

Because that kind of presence to others is the only kind worth offering anyway.

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16 thoughts on “Becoming present to Jesus

  1. It’s indeed good and paying to present to the lord God,He does what no other can do. He is our only provider and saviour. Temptation are many we should not give them any space and room in our life. God is great and deserves frequemt praises. Without his genarouse input,my life would not be what it is, i love him and he cares for me and the family he has given to me. I keep on praising and glorifing him. Thanks for your good inspiring ana building massages, this one has real touched and inspired me with the key lesson that God must be in you, accepting him in all your doings and value him as the most high and the maneger of everything. Be blessed as you contnue feeding the world with the gospel. Amen

    • Thank you, Christina. Sometimes I think we can experience him by becoming present to what he is doing in our very selves. Definitely different than prioritising the self in order to be led by it but still very much a presence to self, I think. Still working all this out by experience though!

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  4. As always, your catch of phrase and words are inspirational and a pleasure to read. I agree the subsequent Spirit-baptism theology doesn’t do much for me either. And yet here In the states at the turn of the 19th century were many holiness movement churches. One had a rather long name, I won’t bore you with, but they believed not in 1 or 2 distinct in-fillings of the Spirit but 12 they accounted for. As being necessary to salvation. I think the reality is that there are numerous encounters, openings and moments we have along the journey of faith. There are moments when we are present to the Spirit of God who has been with us all along. Finding that place of centering, a window by which sit and invite God to open our heart, mind and soul to God’s Spirit already within is so important to our spiritual life. In the intensity of that moment it is no wonder some may mistake it as a subsequent filling, when it’s simply a fresh awakening to God already at work within us. Which is why Mary chose the better part over Martha… to come and sit with Jesus a while and offer the one who is already in the room her full attention.

    • Yes, this! A becoming present to the Spirit of Jesus who has always been present to us. This is changing how I pray with others at the moment; I am always beginning with a request for his presence, not that he would be present to us but that he would make us present to him. I so long for the Mary life.

  5. BTW. Your experience reminded me of Pascal’s account of his own.

    Fire

    God of Abraham, God if Isaac, God of Jacob
    Not of philosophers nor of the scholars.
    Certitude. Certitude. Feeling. Joy, Peace.
    God of Jesus Christ,
    My God and thy God.
    “Thy God shall be my God.”
    Forgetfulness of the world and of everything, except God.
    He is to be found only by the ways taught in the Gospel.
    Greatness of the soul of man.
    “Righteous Father, the world hath not know thee,
    but I have know thee.”
    Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy.

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