Living Mindful of God

When I was in college I read a book entitled The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, a 17th century monk. It was the first time I was ever introduced to a way of living that was intentionally mindful. I tried and failed countless times, but kept at it, trying various methods over the decades since to keep Christ at the forefront of my thinking. Last month I came across this book and it was perfect timing for me.

Present Perfect: Finding God in the Now by Gregory A. Boyd.

This is an updated approach to an ancient practice. In his book, Boyd draws from Brother Lawrence, J.-P. de Caussade and Frank Laubach as well as his own life experiences to breathe new life into living mindful of the reality that God is present in every moment.

In the introduction, “Now Is Where God Lives” Boyd tells his story of being out on a run one morning like hundreds of other mornings when his attention was arrested by a cricket chirping and he began to notice not only the sounds around him but the sights and smells. He had an awakening to all the things he had been oblivious to that were all around him every day – the glory of creation and the love of the Creator that he’d completely missed.

He says, “I realized that my trivial, self-centered mental chatter about the past and future – like a dark cloud blocking the sun – had kept me from seeing the glory of God that surrounded me every second of every day. Never before had I realized the extent to which our focus determines what we experience – and do not experience – in any given moment.” (emphasis mine)

Boyd points out how we spend most of our time thinking about the past, regretting, stewing, growing depressed – and about the future, the unknown, becoming stressed and anxious, but the irony is that we cannot live in either the past or in the future. All we have is this present moment.

“The past is gone. The future is not yet. We remember the past and anticipate the future, but we always do so in the present. Reality is always now. And the single most important aspect of reality is that God is present in it every moment.”

Boyd began the habit of putting post it notes around his house and in his books with the words “Are you awake?” written on them to remind himself to remain awake to God’s presence.

You’re probably wondering how on earth you can do that with everything else you have going on. Boyd says, “Remaining aware of God’s presence doesn’t compete with our attention to other things; it augments it.”

It’s important to remind ourselves that God created us to live in this tangible, hands on world, but with the capacity to be aware of and live in a spiritual realm simultaneously. Whatever is “going on in our lives, the ultimate goal must be to consciously obey what one senses God’s will to be. To ‘seek first the kingdom of God,’ as Jesus commanded we must first seek to submit to God’s reign in each and every moment. When we do this, de Caussade proclaims, we transform ordinary moments into sacred moments and our live becomes a living sacrament.”

I love this because then it doesn’t matter if I’m going to the grocery store or taking a walk or driving or babysitting my grand babies, I can enjoy God in each activity and know that I please Him in these ordinary moments. It isn’t just about doing spiritual things, everything we do is spiritual when done in concert with Christ.

Boyd says, “Remaining awake to God’s presence in the present moment is the single most important task of the Christian life. . . It is, I’m convinced, the bedrock of a vibrant relationship with God and the key to transformation into the likeness of Christ.”

He says the essence of this practice is to remind yourself that you are “submerged in God’s love. That is the practice of the presence of God.”

God is present right now. And now. And now . . . .

The challenge is remembering moment by moment. But Boyd says not to be hard on ourselves when we forget, because that pulls us back into the past and pulls the focus from God back onto ourself and derails us. Just pick up in the now because now is only moment we have. So in each moment, remind yourself that God is present with you. Don’t think about the future – how you’ll be able to keep at it. Just focus on now. Be awake to God’s presence in this one moment.

“…embrace this discipline as a way of being liberated from the prison of our self-preoccupation while waking up to the beauty and joy of God.”

I have experienced this joy and it is incredible. When I stop thinking about myself and my issues and my schedule and my activities . . . my my my ad nauseam; when I notice the delicate perfection of a flower blossom or the dappled leaves of sunlit trees, I exclaim, “God, you are amazing! The beauty of your creation is beyond description! Thank you for eyes to see and a heart and mind to appreciate and enjoy all that you’ve made! It’s inevitable that I will just eat to thank him and praise him for his presence in my life!

Boyd finishes his introduction with the encouragement to “never stop experimenting and growing.”

“As multitudes throughout history can testify, no other single discipline has the power to revolutionize how we experience life moment-by-moment as the largely forgotten and profoundly simple discipline of remembering God exists, right here and right now. God is now.”

As preparation for the next chapters, why not make yourself a post-it note or two asking yourself if you’re awake. Take some time to really notice your surroundings – sights and smells and sounds. Have a conversation with God about what you see right now. Thank Him for being present right now.



8 Responses to “Living Mindful of God”

  1. Barbara Vierk Says:

    If I am not vigilant, so much of many of my thoughts can be consumed with how the health issues I have now will effect me in the future. I constantly remind myself that each day’s worries are sufficient for the day. I am also aware that if I had been mindful of the Lord in a moment what I would have done would be different than what I did.

    I loved the insights you shared. I pray this mindful moment extents to many mindful minutes today.

  2. Cindy Chase Leimbach Bilderback Says:

    Thank Kris! You are such a gift!!
    Your writing could not have come at a better time!
    One of my dearest friends thirty year son was just diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. I sent this blog to her to help her focus on the “now” and to help encourage her.
    Thank you so much for sharing with us!

    • Kristin Beauchamp Says:

      I’m so glad I could be an encouragement, Cindy! I also want to encourage you to stress to her the importance for her son to get a second opinion. That is one of the most important steps someone going through cancer should take. I’ll be praying for him.

  3. emily wagoner Says:

    Thank you for this timely reminder. Your heart is purely beautiful and your encouragement is a blessing. Love you. 💕

  4. J Says:

    I don’t believe this is a “forgotten practice”, since the bible is filled with scripture that tells us to keep our focus on God. The only reason i can see that this is forgotten is because the scriptures are becoming forgotten to a vast majority of Christians. Instead of reading books written by men lets open the bible and read the words of God. Let’s let God guide us not some ancient mystics.

    • Kristin Beauchamp Says:

      J, being mindful of God in every moment of every day is a neglected practice for sure. Perhaps it is forgotten because “scriptures are becoming forgotten to a vast majority of Christians” as you say, but I think just as true is that the frenzied pace of our lives and the influence and bombardment from media and technology means that we don’t have (or make) space in our minds for contemplation. That’s where the need for this ‘practice’ comes in. Whether it’s from ancient mystics or contemporary pastors I don’t care. I just want to be following Christ and living my life aware of him and honoring to him every moment I am gifted with life. Please join me!

  5. Les Beauchamp Says:

    So needed in our lives right now. Thanks for always inspiring me with your love, your life and your thoughts. This fits perfectly with the Mindful Life series.

  6. Valerie Bourdain (@ValerieBourdain) Says:

    Thank you for the break in my Monday morning work routine. It’s a beautiful read. I will make that post-it note!

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