I know of no greater, more essential thought than God’s initiating love to me! So, exercise passion to persist.
I’m aware that I’m still on a steep growing curve. I need passion to persist to fulfill my longing for all God has for me, and to pass it on to others. I hear this longing also reflected in Paul when he was imprisoned towards the end of his life. He is fully abandoned to God.
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain
(Philippians 1:21, plus the context in 1:19-26).
This is Paul’s life-focus modeled by Jesus and passed on to us.
Don’t short-change yourself by stopping short. Cultivating enjoyment of His presence begins right here!
You may still feel that you simply are not one of those people capable of a deep experience with Jesus Christ or the Father. Yet God designed each of His followers for this norm. He woos us into His depths through His full provision from Jesus at salvation. We add our passion to persist by drawing on Jesus’ presence. He has the potential to deliver us from enslavement to every sinful response and release within every virtue in Jesus Christ.
No one is disqualified. None have been injured too badly. None are excluded. This is the glory of the Good News. Jesus brings us an invitation. If we are thirsty with a passion to persist, simply come to Him rather than attempting to dig our own cisterns that have no life-giving water. We can turn to Jesus like this in the most daily or difficult of times.
Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them” (John 7:37-38.
Jim, it sounds too simple!
It’s actually not complex. Jesus has already provided all for you and me to return to the depths of His heart. Jesus is as present to you as you are to yourself. His desire to give Himself fully to you is greater than your desire for Him. We trust Him and actively obey with our passion to persist.
How do we surrender?
It’s active and not passive.
We stop focusing on our past, whether good or bad (after squeezing out its valuable lessons). We rest the future in His hands, even while planning. Now devote the present moment fully to partner with the Spirit in our God-Assignments. Abandonment, yielding, surrender, all-in, means we choose to actively rest in Jesus with the present moment, like Jesus in Gethsemane. We are safe and secure because we know He sees us, and He holds the present moment and each future moment. This moment contains part of God’s eternal plan for you (Philippians 3:12-16).
Take up your cross daily. That means to willingly pursue God’s plan for you with an unswerving trust and obedience regardless of cost or return. Passion to persist. God gives us the cross, and then our “cross” gives us a deepening experience of God.
How will you respond to loss and confusion since this is one way God weans us from self-indulgence to seek His face?
Immediately offer yourself as a living sacrifice to eagerly do His good and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2). The freer we are from exerting our own self-effort, the more quickly we move toward our Lord. The things of this world will begin to grow strangely dim in the light of His reflected character.
Where does confession of sin and examination of our life concerning sin fit into the life of a Christian following this pathway?
God hates sin because it disturbs relationship. However, when we initiate to expose our sins, much may be left undiscovered. When the Lord examines us, He brings all the faults He wants to deal with now into His light. “Search me, Oh Lord and know my heart” (Psalm 139:23a). When He does, quickly respond, “I’m sorry, Jesus” (full acknowledgement). “Thanks for already forgiving that sin.” Now I’m back in close family relationship. “Spirit of God, how can we partner to deal with any underlying spiritual stronghold?” No guilt or shame, condemnation or groveling. The cross dealt with all those.
With a passion to persist, always look to eagerly give ourselves to whatever seems to be His will. Form a habit of turning everything to Him. When unsure, I respond, “I think this may perhaps be Your will, Father. I’m going to engage unless you stop me. My confidence is in Your ability to communicate clearly so I can receive, not my ability to discern.” Treat confusion and fruitfulness alike, after checking if you are making choices to diminish your connection. Learn what it means for Him to stretch you into fullness in Him. God’s part, our part.
This practice takes little time away from daily responsibilities. It comes alongside needed tasks as we occupy our inner thoughts with Jesus during the day. We alter our viewpoint of spiritual living. Fresh insight towards God and towards ourselves fuels our increased abandonment into His loving arms and full partnership to respond.
Make your main occupation cultivating delight in His presence through a passion to persist.
Then without particularly focusing on it, God causes a natural subduing of our fleshly self-life. “We become what we behold.” Yes, there is a place for spiritual disciplines. However, first focus on God’s magnetic, attracting quality drawing you.
“My part is to live this hour in [increasing] inner conversation with God and in perfect responsiveness to his will, to make this hour gloriously rich”
(Frank Laubach, 1/29/30).
When responsibilities compel us to withdraw our conscious attention for a time, our secret communion continues. This may describe what Paul meant by “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17, NASB).
“Even when they are compelled to withdraw their conscious attention in order to engage in earthly affairs, there is within them a secret communion always going on. [The Triune] God will be our dwelling place even while our feet walk the low road of simple duty here among men” (A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God).
Welcome Jesus to converse with you in your inner sanctuary. He is already here! And our hearts eagerly await our Beloved with the anticipation of patient love, like a great wife whose husband has been gone on a week-long business trip. This is the paradox of the mystery of godliness. Allow the unfailing promises of His presence in Scripture to raise expectancy of a deepening, felt connection. Utterly believe that God will use all your life-circumstances for your ultimate good, the routine as well as the painful (Romans 8:28).
Remember, you are never a victim, unless you give permission.
Discern the source of difficulties. Not everything is directly from God’s hand, even though He turns even the enemy’s best shots against us into our ultimate good. The presence of our Family-of-Three leaves a new and different impression of His nature upon us.
Pay attention to focus on His face and not only the gifts from His hands. At times, this lessening of the tingles is simply preparation for the next season of life. The leaves fall off in Autumn and decay in Winter to prepare the soil for a new Spring outbreak of new life.
Be careful about becoming distressed when our mind wanders. Guard ourselves from being anxious. First, such distress only stirs up our self-centered life and distracts toward outward things, undermining trust. Second, our distress may actually spring from a secret root of control and pride, a love of our own worth. Passion to persist has nothing to do with control, but submission to partner with God. Third, anxiety exposes a too fragile trust in God for this event.
If we attempt to struggle directly with these temptations, we only strengthen them. It’s how God wired us as image-bearers. With a focus on our struggles, our soul will be drawn away from its intimate relationship with the Lord. What does a little child do when he sees something that frightens or confuses her/him? The child runs trustingly into the arms of his mother or father without hesitation.
Do you doubt that you can enjoy God on a deeper level by turning to Him in simple trust and obedience? Don’t believe on my say-so. Intentionally put this to a test for three months by tapping into your passion to persist. Engage consistently in this simple approach to our Family-of-Three. When you fail, come with the humble confidence a child has in daddy or a bride with a joyful anticipation of her groom. What can you lose?
“I can lie down anywhere in this universe bathed around by my own Father’s Spirit. The very universe has come to seem so homey!” (Frank Laubach).
This blog has been adapted from my book, Cultivating Enjoyment of God’s Presence, available on Amazon.Com, chapter 9. Deepen this blog by reading the second section section. Dive down on the 5-chapter and into the many footnotes that expand on selected portions. The Appendix in the book is chock full of practical spiritual exercises and an extended section of quotes from the masters like Brother Lawrence, Frank Laubauch, A.W. Tozer, Andrew Murray and others.