February 6, 2019
Weekly Reflection – First Things First
Stephen Covey is famous for his best selling book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” Even though it was written over 20 years ago, it is fully applicable today. I have been thinking this week about the first of his seven habits, that of “First things first.” He suggests that we identify what is the most important thing and then focus on that first, before moving on to other tasks or activities.
As I considered what the “most important thing” is in my life (and in the coming year) I was reminded of a chaplain friend who repeatedly taught that she wanted everything she came in contact with to be affected by the presence of God in her life. For her, that was the “most important thing.” I suspect that most of us if we thought about it, would come to the same conclusion. Of course, that leads to the matter of asking how do we enhance the presence of God in our lives?
A long time ago (17th century) a man known as Brother Lawrence produced another book that has become known as, “Practicing the Presence of God.” It is a classic. Here are some words from the preface to the original edition:
“All Christians will find herein much that is edifying. Those in the thick of the great world will learn from these letters how greatly they deceive themselves, seeking for peace and joy in the false glitter of the things that are seen, yet temporal: those who are seeking the Highest Good will gain from this book strength to persevere in the practice of virtue. All, whatever their life-work, will find profit, for they will see herein a brother, busied as they are in outward affairs, who in the midst of the most exacting occupations, has learnt so well to accord action with contemplation, that for the space of more than forty years he hardly ever turned from the Presence of God.”
So how do you develop and experience the presence of God in your life? Is that activity “the most important thing” to you? If not, why not? Many of my friends have developed what they call a spiritual plan of life that is designed to help them stay close to God hour-to-hour and minute-to-minute. Often, they can pray and read scripture at several designated times throughout the day. Some work hard at silence, turning off the television or car radio to experience God in the silence between the static that enters our minds as we move about our daily activities.
Others find a way to see their daily tasks as a spiritual activity. For example, my first wife hated to iron clothes. But she developed the practice of praying for the one whose clothing she was ironing. That made all the difference.
Do you think you could bring yourself to see your daily activities in a more spiritual light? Perhaps pause before beginning a task and ask God to be present as you do it, especially for those tasks that involve interacting with other people. If you do, they will be affected by the presence of God in your life. God will be glorified, and you will be blessed!
Read the Chaplain’s reflection, Close to God