Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18
It was Emily in the play Our Town that first stirred in me the longing to live “every, every moment” of my life. Then it was Jean-Pierre de Caussade who awakened me to “the sacrament of the present moment”. But it is Frank Laubach who teaches me in practical ways how to live every moment with God.
You might think that if you lived focused on God every moment you wouldn’t have time for anything else. But Frank Laubauch’s life (1884-1970) proves just the opposite. He illustrates what Jesus meant when he said that if we abide in Him we will bear much fruit (John 15:5).
Laubach was one of the most widely known and loved men of the twentieth century. Norman Vincent Peale, in Look magazine, called Laubach one of the five greatest men in the world. Newsweek featured him as “one of the grand men of the missionary world,” and Time dubbed him “Mr. Literacy”.
On the 100th anniversary of Laubach’s birth, the United States Postal Service honored him with a stamp as part of the Great Americans series. He developed the “Each One Teach One” literacy program that has taught over 60 million people to read; he travelled to more than 100 countries developing literacy programs in 312 languages. Laubach still found time to keep his mind on God while writing over 50 books and scores of articles on spirituality, literacy, sociology, and education. His personal acquaintance with President Truman inspired “point four” in Truman’s inaugural address calling for a “bold new program…for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas” of the world.
Laubach was a graduate of Princeton, Columbia, and Union Theological Seminary, feeling a call to missionary work among Muslims on the Philippine island of Mindanao. It was there on Mindanao at the age of 45 he remembered reading Brother Lawrence and longed to “practice the presence of God”. He knelt on a lonely hill outside his family’s shack and dedicated himself to living every moment in the presence of Christ.
He then frequently wrote his father updating him on his “experiment” in living every moment with God. It is inspiring to follow his progress in living each moment in God’s presence. On January 26, 1930, he writes his father about his determination: “I am taking by deliberate act of the will, enough time from each hour to give God much thought.”
A few days later, on January 29, Laubach writes excitedly of progress in his experiment:
I feel simply carried along each hour, doing my part in a plan which is far beyond myself. This sense of cooperation with God in little things is what so astonishes me, for I never have felt this way before…I must work, to be sure, but there is God working along with me. God takes care of the rest.
Laubach tells his father that he begins his experiment before he gets out of bed in the morning: “I determine not to get out of bed until that mind set upon God is settled.” He writes of “obstacles” to keeping his focus on God but says the obstacles “are melting away like a mirage.” He says that “This concentration upon God is strenuous, but everything else has ceased to be so” (italics by Laubach).
After a year of seeking to live each moment with God, Laubach writes on January 2, 1932, his New Year’s resolution:
I resolve to accept each situation of this year as God’s layout for that hour, and never to lament that it is a very commonplace or disappointing task. One can pour something divine into every situation.
Laubach’s life is celebrated by millions of people for teaching them to read and write, but by many more for teaching them to live every moment with God. Until his death at age 85 Laubach lived what he tried to teach: “You do not need to forget other things nor stop your work, but invite Him to share everything you do or say or think.”
From out of Laubach’s “experiment” of living every moment with God, he wrote the pamphlet “The Game with Minutes”. I pass on to you the first few paragraphs of this pamphlet, hoping to encourage you begin your own “experiment” with God:
Select a favorable hour; try how many minutes of the hour you can remember God at least ONCE each minute; that is today, bring God to mind at least one second out of every sixty. It is not necessary to remember God every second, for the mind runs along like a rapid stream from one idea to another.
Can you win your game with minutes while passing people on the street? Yes! Experiments have revealed a sure way to succeed: offer a swift prayer for the people at whom you glance. It is easy to think an instantaneous prayer while looking people straight in the eye, and the way people smile back at you shows that they like it! This practice gives a surprising exhilaration, as you may prove for yourself….
The Apostle Paul tells us to “pray without ceasing” and to “rejoice” and “give thanks” at all times. Laubach’s life and teachings help me make some baby steps towards that. I hope you will also find Laubach helpful for living every moment with God.
Grace and peace,
photo from Wikipedia