“I keep the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand,
I shall not be moved.”
Imagine what it would be like to have God with you wherever you go, every single moment of your day! Imagine what it would be like to have God with you in the doctor’s office, with you when you can’t sleep, and right at your side when you face something difficult! That’s just what we see David aspiring to do in today’s Scripture: keeping the Lord always before him.
God is always present with us, not as some cosmic policemen wanting to catch us, but as the heavenly Father delighting to be with us! He even knows the very hairs of our heads. Along with Brother Lawrence, who recounted the joys of practicing God’s presence in his book Practicing the Presence of God, I am helped by the writings of Frank Laubach.
Don’t think of Frank Laubach as someone holed up in some remote hermitage contemplating God. He was one of the most widely known and loved men of the Twentieth Century. No less than Norman Vincent Peale wrote in Look magazine about Laubach as one of the five greatest men in the world. Newsweek heralded him as “one of the greatest men of the missionary world,” while 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 their Great American series. Among Laubach’s many accomplishments he developed the “Each One Teach One” literacy program teaching over 60 million people to read. He traveled to more than 100 countries implementing his new reading program in 312 languages.
Somehow Laubach still made time to keep his mind on God while writing over 50 books and scores of articles on spirituality, literacy, sociology, and education. His close relationship to President Harry Truman inspired “Point Four” in Truman’s Inaugural Address in which Truman called for a “bold new program…for the improvement of underdeveloped areas.”
It was when Laubach was a missionary on the Philippine island of Mindanao that he remembered Brother Lawrence’s writings and longed to practice God’s presence every day. He told of kneeling outside his shack on a lonely island and dedicating himself to living every day in the presence of his ever-present Lord. Laubach wrote his father telling of his new determination: “I am taking by deliberate act of the will, enough time from each hour to give God much thought.”
A few days later, Laubach wrote excitedly about the progress he was making in practicing God’s presence:
“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 began practicing God’s presence before starting the day: “I determine not to get out of bed until that mind set upon God is settled.” He wrote of “obstacles” to keeping his focus on God, but said those obstacles “are melting away like a mirage.” He found “This concentration upon God is strenuous, but everything else has ceased to be so.” (Italics by Laubach)
Laubach’s life is remembered and celebrated by millions for teaching them to read, but by more for teaching them to live every moment with God. Until his death at age 85 Laubach lived what he taught: “You do not need to forget other things nor stop your work, but invite Him to share everything you do or say or think.”
Centuries before Laubach the psalmist-king David wrote about his determination to always keep God before him. Both men thought it a secret to the wonder of their lives.
That’s just how I want to live! How about you?
Grace and peace,