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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Consuming Love

By Kerry Clarensau
Feb. 26, 2012

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30, NIV).

My husband, Mike, and I were driving through our neighborhood to a party, when his phone rang. It was my mom. My first thought was, I wonder why she is calling him and not me? I quickly checked to see if I had missed her call or if my phone was on the silent setting.

When Mike stopped driving and pulled our car to the side of the street, I knew something was wrong. He told me my dad had just collapsed with cardiac arrest. He was receiving CPR, but his heart wasn’t beating on its own. My mom thought he was gone.

But God positioned an experienced CPR instructor and a top-notch first response team to be with my dad at the right moment. The EMTs shocked his heart several times before it began beating on its own, and then he was transported by helicopter to a wonderful cardiac hospital.

The doctors didn’t know if my dad would ever regain consciousness, or if he did, how much damage was already done to his vital organs. But they decided to try a relatively new hypothermic treatment, which lowers body temperature and allows the organs to regain function slowly, preventing any further damage. (Doctors literally put my dad on ice.)

My dad was in very critical condition for nine days. When someone we love is so near death, it is as if everything stops, and our entire world is engulfed in the four walls of the hospital. For the first couple of days we never left the building. We spent every minute sitting in the waiting room or huddled by Dad’s bed, watching machines sustain his life.

We felt like we were “walking through the valley of the shadow of death.” In that valley, the most important things of life are in full view — our relationship with God and those He has given us to love. That is it; nothing else seems to matter.

We spent hours with our family and friends who lovingly surrounded us. In those unforgettable moments, we gained a priceless glimpse into the souls of those closest to us. I saw a strength in my mom I didn’t know existed, a level of maturity in my young adult children that made my heart smile, a tenderness in my husband that helped soothe our pain, a love in my extended family that made me proud to be one of them, and practical acts of kindness from friends who comforted our tired bodies.

We experienced God’s amazing love in so many ways! One of those precious moments came through an encounter with someone we’d never met before. Even now, we don’t know his name.

Several days in a row, I observed the hospital janitor in the intensive care unit. He carefully swept and mopped the floor of each room. But I noticed before he moved to the next area, he would pause for several moments, lean against the handle of his mop, and look tenderly at the patient. I couldn’t help but wonder if he was praying.

Late one evening, after a day that seemed to stretch out like a week, the same janitor walked into the waiting room where we were “camping out.” He apologized for interrupting and asked if he could sweep while we were in the room. We assured him we didn’t mind and quickly picked up our things from the floor.

Humming as he swept, he carried a noticeably calm presence into the room. My aunt asked if he liked to sing, and he said, “Oh, yes ma’am, I do!” He didn’t seem rattled when she asked him to sing something for us. He just continued sweeping as a song poured effortlessly from his heart.

I don’t remember all of his song, but the chorus went something like this: “I’m walkin’ and talkin’ with my mind set on Jesus. There’s peace, there’s joy, there’s love as I keep walkin’ and talkin’ with my Jesus.”

Tears were streaming down my cheeks as this precious man sang. His song explained the reason for his peaceful countenance. We were witnessing firsthand a man whose humble life was worship to the One he loved.

Before he left, I asked him if he was praying for the patients as he cleaned.

“Oh, yes ma’am,” he said. “It is a privilege to pray for every one of them!”

I wanted to hug him, but I didn’t want to make a scene and embarrass my family. So I just quietly thanked him for praying for my dad.

I know the doctors and nurses played an important role in my dad’s complete recovery. But I will never forget the prayers or the heart song of this sweet, anonymous janitor.

When I was about 27 years old, someone gave me a copy of the book The Practice of the Presence of God. It describes the journey of Brother Lawrence, a Frenchman who served as a cook in a 17th-century monastery. His desire was to live every moment with an overwhelming awareness of God’s presence.

Consumed with love for God, Brother Lawrence wanted to perform every task, no matter how insignificant, purely for the love of God. His life has taught me what it looks like to actually live a life of worship, and not just participate in worship services. Brother Lawrence was a living picture of one who loved God with all of his heart, soul, mind and strength. His life challenges me to enjoy a closer relationship with God — one more intimate than I ever thought possible.

When I’m not living in steady awareness of God, my flesh wants to react and respond in ways that are anything but pleasing to Him. I easily become distracted, frustrated, fearful and overwhelmed with responsibilities and cares, and my words and behavior disappoint.

However, if I make every effort to “walk and talk” with God, my responses are completely different. When I am aware of Him, I can rely on Him for whatever I need in each moment — whether it is wisdom, insight, strength, love or patience.

I’ve often wondered if Brother Lawrence from the 17th century and Enoch from the Old Testament have something in common. Hebrews 11 tells us that Enoch was commended as one who pleased God, but all we know about him was that he walked with his Creator (Genesis 5:22). In Hebrews 11:6, we are told that God rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

Both of these men teach us a very important lesson. Loving God is most evident as we simply walk with Him every moment and seek Him with all of our hearts.

It may seem like an overwhelming assignment, to be consciously aware of God’s presence in our busy, distracted lives. But I have learned from Brother Lawrence — and the janitor — that you can have an ongoing “secret conversation of the soul” with God in the busiest moments.

The first time I read The Practice of the Presence of God, I was a young mother of two very active little boys. I discovered I could wipe runny noses, referee disputes, and make peanut butter sandwiches for the Lord. It completely changed how I approached my day — I wanted to do everything with excellence. And I grew to depend on Him more every day. It was so exciting to realize that God was right there to give me everything I needed to be a mom.

May Brother Lawrence challenge us to practice the presence of God! Or maybe the simple song of the janitor will become your own, “I’m walkin’ and talkin’ with my mind set on Jesus.” Remember, there’s peace, there’s joy, there’s love as we keep on walkin’ and talkin’ with our Jesus.

Excerpted with permission from Love Revealed by Kerry Clarensau (Springfield, Mo.: Influence Resources, 2011).

KERRY CLARENSAU is the director of the National Women’s Department of the Assemblies of God.

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