There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with God. Those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it.” – Brother Lawrence
This weekend my wife and I went back to Chicago for a memorial service. A friend of ours, Abby-Jill Brauhn, passed away after a long fight with cancer. Abby led a very interesting life, leaving a lucrative career in pharma sales to work full time at our church directing outreach and later led a Mexican orphanage. But more importantly, she was an exceptional person.
As I sat in the service I kept thinking about what made her so unique, and I kept coming back to the same point – she never let it bother her. It… meaning the next career move, the annoying coworker, the workplace politics, the unappreciative friend… whatever kinds of daily crud tend to get in my way most days. She transcended it and always brought an amazingly positive energy and a great sense of humor to whatever person, conversation or project with whom she was currently engaged.
Now I’ve seen these new age books claiming that just “thinking positive” will transform your life. I don’t give them a second thought. But we can’t afford to not reflect upon what Paul tells us to do in Phillipians 4:8 when he says, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”
I love that verse, but I must admit that I find it difficult to put into practice when the tyranny of it keeps me focused on lesser things. I know of only one way to become more like Abby-Jill was, and that’s to pray a lot (as I believe she did). The verses preceeding the above Phillipians verse are key – they tell us to pray to God about anything on our mind and he’ll give us peace. Paul also tells us in 1 Thes 5 that we should pray continually to be joyful in the Lord. Like the 17th-century monk Brother Lawrence, who wrote about constanly being in God’s presence during his mundane work life, we should recognize prayer for what it could be – an ongoing dialogue throughout our day versus something we do before meals or bedtime.
I prayed on the way home that somehow I grow less concerned with whatever it is going to be this week and fix my mind on what is good. I hope that starting my dialogue with God at the beginning of each morning will lead me to it, and maybe someday a little bit of that transcendent joy will please someone around me as much as I was delighted when I was with Abby-Jill.