Let’s be honest, I chose the book by it’s cover, as I (ashamedly) often do. But hey, graphic design is important. I was just browsing. I was a newish-believer-still-sorta-seeker wandering the bookstore. I was thirsty for something to help me digest the heaviness of the Bible. Something a little lighter, approachable even. The cover graphic caught my eye, the title made a bold claim, and after performing my quirky habit (of reading the first page and last paragraph of a book before purchase) I decided it was worthy of my time and a $12.99 investment. Here’s why:
The second paragraph on the introduction page read: “…Undoubtedly you have turned to this introduction for the gist of what this book is about. Perhaps something about the cover or the title intrigued you, or maybe you are standing in the bookstore wondering about your faith and are looking for something spiritual that doesn’t club you over the head with the Scriptures.”
Ummm… what!? And then, the conclusion on page 193 read:
“All things are possible
to him who believes,
they are less difficult
to him who hopes,
they are more easy
to him who loves
and still more easy
to him who perseveres
in the practice of
these three virtues.
God is Here by Steve Case turned out to be just the book I needed. My next purchase was most likely a bowl of cheddar-broccoli soup at the adjacent Panera. I picture myself sitting in the front window, slurping a spoonful of soup with the turn of each page. As the back cover of the book describes, God is Here expands upon the thoughts and writings of a “17th century monk named Brother Lawrence… [who] found a way to connect with God moment by moment, to experience the joy of His divine presence every minute of every day- whether during deep, contemplative prayer or while washing a sink full of dishes.
The book is a casual sort of “how-to” when it comes to pursuing a life of going after God. I remember it helped me form a better practice of prayer. I was feeling unsatisfied by both the “talking to the clouds” occasional, bedtime prayer style of my youth and the gossipy “corporate prayer meeting” style I had started to experience at church. Together with Brother Lawrence, the author helped me adopt a connective and continuous style of prayer, something mirroring the command in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
I learned to approach prayer as a conversation instead of a recitation of a list of thanks and asks. And I found great freedom when I got to page 33 and read “One of the greatest gifts God gave us is that we don’t have to understand Creator God in order to love Creator God.”
Hope is Hard, friends. Abide in His Loving Presence today. If we do as Brother Lawrence suggests, great joy awaits to those who feed and nourish their souls with high notions of God.
I recommend this book for a new seekers and stalled believers. It’s a fast and easy read. I still thumb through this book when I need the gentle reminder that I can connect to Him in the everyday. As I mature in my faith I find myself diving deeper into Scripture, but the simplicity of a devout monk’s faith is always refreshing and inspiring. And besides, I like how it good it looks on my shelf, proclaiming down its spine that indeed, God is Here.
“We should fix ourselves firmly in the presence of God by conversing all the time with Him…we should feed our soul with a lofty conception of God and from that derive great joy in being his. We should put life in our faith. We should give ourselves utterly to God in pure abandonment, in temporal and spiritual matters alike, and find contentment in the doing of His will,whether he takes us through sufferings or consolations. ”
― Brother Lawrence ―
*Also recommended, Brother Lawrence’s classic: The Practice of the Presence of God