Introductory Note:

We celebrate Christ’s coming during Advent. But his coming is not just a one-time event. He is present with us always and everywhere. However, as Trevor Hudson points out, living on this side of Christ’s incarnated life, death, resurrection and ascension means that we must learn how “to be aware of this glorious reality.” Trevor suggests a holy experiment to help us pay attention to the invisible Presence of Christ by consciously inviting him into whatever we are doing at the moment. It is a very simple but life-changing way to go about your day.

Renovaré Team

Excerpt from Discovering Our Spiritual Identity

Practicing the presence of God,” a phrase often associated with Brother Lawrence’s book The Practice of the Presence of God, has become increasingly instructive for my own pilgrimage. Constantly it enters my mind, reminding me that it is within everyday life — cooking meals, cleaning the house, going to work, enjoying friendships, playing with the children — that my union with the resurrected Christ must be lived out. Sacred and secular are not to be separated. The presence of God can be practiced wherever we are and in whatever we are doing.

This way of understanding God’s relationship with his world has profoundly altered my understanding of the Christ-following life. No longer is the Holy One to be encountered only within particular places, special times and certain states of mind. His living presence pervades all things and every experience, and waits only to be invoked. Wherever we may be standing — in the kitchen or at the workplace — is holy ground. We are continuously encircled and enfolded in the heart of God. Not for one second can we escape the presence of the Lord. For as the psalmist affirms: If I went up to heaven, you would be there; if I lay down in the world of the dead, you would be there” (Psalm 139:8 Good News Bible). 

Our picture of God develops this truth further. The God in whom we live and move and have our being is the Christlike God who loves every one of us sacrificially and extravagantly. Like the shining sun that continuously sends forth its rays of light and warmth, there is no time in our lives when God is not actively loving us. His transforming love radiates toward us in every single moment and experience of our lives. This never-failing, always-present love is the kingdom, the eternal realm of God, which Jesus has made accessible to us now, and into which we shall fully pass at the moment of our dying. Training ourselves to be aware of this glorious reality in the present moment signposts the challenge facing every Christ-follower. 

Recently I came across a very moving written testimony in which the widely respected theologian and writer Henri Nouwen shares his glimpse into God’s eternal realm. On a dark winter’s morning in 1988 he experienced a near-lethal accident that brought him into that shadowland between life and death and also led him into a new experience of God. In his remarkable little book Beyond the Mirror he describes this experience within the portal of death. He writes: 

What I experienced then was something I had never experienced before: pure and unconditional love. Better still, what I experienced was an intensely personal presence, a presence that pushed all my fears aside and said, Come, don’t be afraid. I love you.” A very gentle, non-judgmental presence; a presence that simply asked me to trust, and trust completely.… I had spent countless hours studying the Scriptures, listening to lectures and sermons, and reading spiritual books. Jesus had been very close to me, but also very distant; a friend, but also a stranger; a source of hope, but also of fear, guilt and shame. But now, when I walked around the portal of death, all ambiguity and all uncertainty were gone. He was there, the Lord of my life, saying, Come to Me, come.” 

A few paragraphs later he continues: 

This experience was the realization of my oldest and deepest desires. Since the first moment of consciousness, I have had the desire to be with Jesus. Now I felt his presence in a most tangible way, as if my whole life had come together and I was being enfolded in love.1

Only those empowered by this kingdom hope will venture forth and experiment with a training program designed to practice the presence of God in all things. The kingdom of God is made accessible through the presence of the crucified and risen Christ, and this presence needs to be invoked in order for us to experience the kingdom. How we go about invoking the Divine Presence is what constitutes a training program. One possibility consists of simply 

  • turning the mind regularly in a Christward direction 
  • keeping constantly thankful 
  • doing everything we do for God 

Finding their origins in the wisdom of Scripture, these practices have been explored in the great spiritual classics and are accessible to us all. For those who live busy, active and filled lives, an extra plus is that they demand no additional time commitments away from family or work. They do, however, demand the discipline of consistent effort. 

Over recent years I have experimented with these practices within the nitty-gritty of my own daily routines and relationships. In spite of frequent lapses and having constantly to restart the program, they have become the channel for numerous blessings. These range from receiving strength and help in times of difficulty to a far broader awareness of God’s active presence in commonplace occasions and duties. Without engagement in practices like these I am convinced that we shall not cultivate a sense of the holy amidst the ordinary.

Holy Experiment: Welcoming God into Your Next Task

Since we are exploring the practice of the presence of God, let me suggest another holy experiment. In a few moments you will complete your reading of this chapter and move on to your next task. Before you begin that task, welcome the Holy One into whatever you are about to do. Say something like With your help, Lord, I commit myself now to the task of playing with the children,” or With your help, Lord, I want to be present to my spouse,” or With your help I want to give myself to the task of writing this letter.” After your brief prayer give yourself wholeheartedly to your planned task. Resolve inwardly not only to do it with God but also to do it for God.

  1. Henri J. M. Nouwen, Beyond the Mirror (New York: Crossroad, 1990). ↩︎

Taken from Discovering Our Spiritual Identity by Trevor Hudson. Copyright © 2010 by Trevor Hudson. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www​.ivpress​.com

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

Text First Published November 2010 · Last Featured on December 2021