I am not a gardener unless cutting grass counts, the other horticultural initiatives I leave to my wife. Into our “gardenette”, which is a small plot of soil, protected by flimsy fencing intended to thwart the dog, she plants herbs, tomatoes and sunflowers. The latter soon reigns over the rest, a true monarch amid lowly peasantry.
Though its height is regal, I am more impressed by how it tracks the presence of the sun throughout the course of the day. Basically, a growth hormone is reacting to solar energy causing the plant to incline toward the sun. This attentiveness to the sun’s radiance makes the flower warmer and more visible, promoting pollination and thereby the sunflower’s fruitfulness.
I think there might be a useful metaphor here. Let’s see if I can unearth it, even though I have no green thumb.
We can understand God’s presence in at least a few ways. For sure God is everywhere within his creation. We call this omnipresence. God also reveals his presence to people at particular times and places according to his sovereign purposes. Miracles would be one example. We call this his manifest presence.
There is another way, one that I want to focus on. Some call it “cultivated presence”. This refers to a believer’s awareness of God. We are tracking God throughout our day, inclining our face to his radiance and having our souls warmed because of it.
The Benefits of Cultivated Presence
Being aware of God’s presence, to be thinking about and feeling that God is with me is a game-changer. It debunks the lie that I am alone, dependent on my own resources.
Being mindful that God is with me, places me in the starting blocks ready to ask for grace in a moment of need, whether that need is large or small (Heb 4:16). When my day pushes in upon me with demands, discouragement, and constraints I am not overwhelmed because my heart is Godward and I know he will strengthen me (Isa 41:10). When a situation arises that calls for a good decision, I am not left to my own best guesses, no my spirit is attentive to God’s Spirit, He will guide me (John 14:16).
The Psalmist summarizes it this way: “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken (Psalm 16:8 NIV).” Instead, God empowers us to lead lives that are impactful, setting us up to bear fruit of enduring value.
How to Grow in Attentiveness to God
Engaging in spiritual disciplines designed to place our hearts in the path of God’s grace is fundamental to growing in attentiveness. In particular, a regular practice of solitude and silence, even for 10 minutes, will quell earthly noise and heighten heavenly sensitivity. I find these practices recalibrate my soul, tuning it to God. I am then more apt to track his radiance through the course of my day.
There are a few baked-in amplifiers of God’s presence within the circuitry of my day. I think you might discover the same. First, our feelings, both the negative and the positive, can prompt us to keep our eyes on God. Physical location, the places we go, can serve as tripwires alerting us we have entered yet another zone in which God is waiting. Third, the faces that greet us, confront us, irk us and help us, all express and yes, distort the face of God. But even so, people remind us that God’s countenance is not distant nor hidden but ever shining upon us, offering to warm us with grace and peace.
What is one thing you do that helps you track God in the course of your day? What is one new thing you will try as you grow in being a Son-Flower?