Tuesday, August 30, 2011


A number of years ago I stumbled across a book that changed my life.  We were in a cabin up in the mountains and, looking for something to read, I pulled a thin, dull looking paperback off the bookshelf, plopped into a rocker and began to read.

Letters by a Modern MysticThe book was Letters by a Modern Mystic.  Don't let the title throw you.  But, if the word mystic does make you nervous, I guess I feel the need to ask: what is more mystical than following a God who made Himself a man for a while, died, but wouldn't stay dead, and then sent his spirit to live inside us? If you're a follower of Jesus, get over it...it's mystical.

Letters is a collection of some of the correspondence between Frank Laubach, a missionary to the southern Philippines in the 1930's, and his father.  The beautifully written letters chronicle Laubach's journey through an experiment to intentionally call God to mind as he walked through his days...to walk in the moment by moment presence of God.

For me, this was so much more than a book--it introduced me to a new way of living in a conscious awareness of God's presence.  It had a profound impact on my life.  So how am I doing?  Have I succeeded at this?  By no means...in fact, in the past few months I have let my practice of God's presence slide so far that I felt compelled to set aside some time and basically reset things...and part of that is re-reading Letters once more.  And that prompted this post.

If you long for the joy, power and peace of communing with the Creator, I would highly recommend this book.  Here's the foreword, written by Dallas Willard (who also wrote a fascinating review here.)

You hold in your hands a treasure provided by Christ to all people who long to live their real life today in the constant presence and power of God.  It comes through the soul of a man who lived such a life--Frank Laubach.  He was a quintessentially modern man, totally at home in the world affairs at all levels, but in all contexts the constant servant of Christ and of his fellow human beings.  An international statesman for Christ, Laubach had the most profound simplicity, intelligence, and spirituality.  As you will find, the man himself is even greater than his message.  He himself is the assurance that what he says about a constant life with God and in God is true.
What Frank Laubach brings to us, with his poetic imagery and limpid prose, is a simple and effectual way into a life in which God is always near and all of the intimacies and empowerments extolled in Scripture and in hymns and other praise songs form the texture of daily life.  In a way well known to Christ followers of other times but largely lost to followers of more recent forms of Christianity, he shows us the simple, practical steps that we can take--no matter our "qualifications" or circumstances--to fill our minds with the reality of God, of Christ, and of His Kingdom.
The method is simple, and can be learned with some sustained practice in such a way that it is not a burden but a blessing that gives much more strength than it requires.  In the briefest of descriptions, we learn "to call Him to mind at least one second of each minute."  We practice this, learning as we go, until it is as routine as breathing.  Then our life is flooded with light and joy and strength for all that is good.  Other things are helpful, such as periodic, intense study of the Gospels and fellowship with others who are walking the same way and practicing the same life.  But the heart of the matter is turning the mind to God for one brief second of each minute.  When we set ourselves to do this, we will discover many ways of doing it and many things than can help us.  God will assist the eager soul to learn as it goes.
Frank Laubach was well educated in how the mind works.  He knew how we are capable of keeping many things before the mind at once, and he knew that when something is drawn before the mind it does not disappear immediately.  Rather, it lingers around the mind, and the fragrance of its being stains the atmosphere of consciousness.  So God and His works are always there, from horizon to center.
Anyone who wants to actively love God all the time can do this.  A child can do it, as well as those who have no special qualifications or advantages.  If you will patiently begin to follow the instructions given in this book, you will very quickly see the astonishing results.  Why not begin now?  The door is open, and the Master calls.  You certainly have nothing better to do.  As you follow these instructions, everything else you do will go better than ever before.


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