Many of us have heard of the book by Brother Lawrence called Practicing the Presence of God. This book is a classic, even though it was written back in the 1600’s. Nicolas Herman fought in the Thirty Years’ War, was wounded, and became permanently lame. What he experienced in the war horrified him and caused him to seek God and join a Carmelite Priory in Paris, where he chose to be called Brother Lawrence. There he mostly worked in the kitchen and later he repaired sandals. What drew people to him was his wisdom and peace, so much so that people sought him out for spiritual guidance. The basis of his peace was his constant conversation with God, no matter what task he was doing. He knew God was always present with him – everywhere.
I always wanted to be constantly aware of God’s Presence, but I’d get involved in a task, and that is where my thoughts were – not on God. And I didn’t know how to change that! For a while, at work, I’d put a reminder in my calendar that would pop up every hour. It just read, “Practice the Presence.”
When it would pop up, I’d briefly stop what I was doing and remember that God was with me. I didn’t feel anything, but I wanted to be intentional about remembering His promise to always be with me and never leave.
One day when the reminder popped up, I thanked Him for being with me, and asked a simple question. “What are You doing?”
His response surprised me. I heard Him say, “Nothing.”
“What do you mean, nothing?!?”
And then He said, “My Name is I Am, not I do.”
Can I just say that I’ve been chewing on that since then – for years! Here are some of my thoughts on that.
There is a difference between who a person is and what he/she does. For example, I was a person who worked with computers and networks. Now I’m retired. I no longer do that (usually), but I am still who I am. I was married – doing marriage – for 44 years. Now I’m not. It took me a while to adjust to being a widow. But I’m still me. My life is not over. Marriage was not my identity! Computer support was not my identity. Thank God! God has reminded me several times that we are human beings – not human doings.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about what Jesus said to me in an entirely different light. Jesus said He is I Am, not I Do. What does that mean?
Let’s look at the Names of God and Jesus, for example.
El Shaddai – Almighty God. All-Sufficient God. He doesn’t just have enough. He is enough.
Jehovah Tsidkenu – The Lord is my righteousness. He is the very standard of righteousness.
Jehovah Rohi – The Lord is my shepherd. He didn’t say He is the God Who shepherds us.
Jehovah Rapha – The Lord is my healer. He didn’t just say He is the God Who heals. Healing is Who He is. It is His very nature to heal.
Everlasting Father – He isn’t just a God who nurtures and fathers us. He is our Father. It is Who He is!
The Light of the World – He is Light. In Him is no darkness at all.
El Elyon – the Most High God. That’s Who He is, not what He does.
These are His Names, not His occupation. Consider this verse.
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (I John 4:8)
What does this mean for us? Two verses come to mind.
I the LORD do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. (Malachi 3:6)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
Because He doesn’t change, even when the descendants of Jacob were unfaithful, God wasn’t – and isn’t.
Because He doesn’t change, all His promises from long ago are still active and alive.
Because He doesn’t change, He doesn’t get tired or busy or angry and decide He doesn’t feel like healing, or loving, or being a Good Father, or …. He IS our Father. He IS our Healer. He IS Good. He IS Love. He IS always with us. He IS our Shepherd. He IS our Savior. And He IS always the Most High – higher than anyone or anything else – God.
HE IS! Always Loving. Always Faithful. Always Truth. Always with us.
AND SO MUCH MORE! FOR THIS I WILL BE ETERNALLY GRATEFUL!