Skip to main content

Doing Everything With God


              As you know I have been teaching the book Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.  Our class came to the third letter that was written to Soldier.  Brother Lawrence told the Soldier to carry out his duty as a guard with God.  He told him that no one else would notice and that the mundane duty of marching back and forth between the gate he guarded was the perfect way to keep his mind on being in God’s presence.
              I wanted to ask my class to find a task to do with God so I decided to purposefully practice God’s presence during a mundane task.  It was early in the morning, and I really wanted to paint my toenails.  It had been a while since they had been painted because of my foot surgery.  I invited God to be with me as I painted my nails, a task I had never done before while conscious of God’s presence.    I was ready for a different color, and I saw my toenails in desperate need of attention.  I went outside on the patio to carry out my task so my nails would dry faster.  It was dawn and not full light.  While painting my nails, I realized that something was awry.  I saw that the color was off and assumed I had chosen the pink rather than the coral.  Oh well, God, I thought, I guess pink is better than coral, assuming He had decided on a different color than I had in mind and I liked pink also.  My natural tendency was to assume that since I had invited God into this process, He must have decided to make Himself known through changing the color.  But as the light became brighter I saw that I had picked up red not pink—that was the color I did not want for sure. 
              Red represented all the pain I had been through, everything I was trying to leave behind.  I wondered, God why didn’t you alert me to the fact that I had chosen the wrong color, as I painted my toenails with you?  I wasn’t mad or bratty in this question.  After all, it was just toenail polish.  I didn’t let my mind stay there.  Rather I was so determined to have coral toenails that I decided to just use the red as the basecoat and paint coral right over.  It was outside of my prior belief system about painting toenails (you need to use the same colors), but I did it anyway because I was so tired of red and ready for something new. Problem solved, I went on about my day.
              It was later when I taught the class and used my experience as an example of practicing the presence with God that I better understood and appreciated the answer to the question I had asked but was not ready for an answer.
 God never promises that just because we focus on Him during a mundane task, like painting toenails, that everything will turn out perfect!  In fact, my toenail painting was definitely imperfect with smudges here and there.  It is not a perfect where everything turns out better than you expect.  Rather it is the experience of peace when even things you don’t expect to happen disappoint and leave you without what you wanted that you still have God’s presence.  I even considered Him smiling while I sat there in the half dark so proud of myself for being so wise to teach my class how to paint their toenails with God and get a more exquisite result.  Knowing my thoughts, I could see Him waiting patiently for the moment when I would realize that I had sat there and painted my own toenails red even while doing it for the love of God, of all things.  I think He was proud when I didn’t lash out at Him or blame Him for not to alerting me about my folly, as if that was His job to make everything in my life turn out the way I expect.
I actually love to look down at my coral toenails with tiny streaks of red peeking out.  They remind me of the truth Paul wrote in Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  A lesson God can each even from painting toenails.
Copyright © 2017.  Deborah R. Newman  teatimeforyoursoul.com  All Rights Reserved.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thank You Dad

Recently I have been contemplating why it is ingrained in me that I must be quiet and respectful and look at the flag when the national anthem is played.  It’s as natural for me as standing for the Hallelujah Chorus during Handel’s Messiah or for the Bride when she walks through the back door.  Like a Pavlov dog, my instincts go into action, and I do not even think about my somewhat conditioned response. Why?  It was definitely my own father who had the most influence over me regarding the national anthem.  I am not a sports enthusiast.  However, from a young age I found myself at sports games because my older brother played every sport offered.  Our family faithfully attended those games, which normally started with the national anthem.  I found a way to enjoy the otherwise agonizing experience of being held prisoner to my brother’s sporting events by gravitating to my friends who were there under duress as well.  We made up games of our own; we would laugh and talk throughout the q…

You Shall Not Be Overcome

I distinctly remember sending this quote by Julian of Norwich to a recently widowed friend of mine over ten years ago.  You will not be overcome.
God did not say you will not be troubled,
You will not be belaboured,
You will not be disquieted;
But God said, You will not be overcome.
The quote in one of my devotional books for July 23, which marks the day I became a widow myself is by the same author.  “One day God spoke to me and I heard these words, “you won’t be overcome.”  God wants us to pay attention to His words.  God wants us to be strong in our certainty in Him, always, both in good times and in bad.  The Lord loves us, and God so enjoys our company.  God loves being with us and wants us to love Him and enjoy being with Him and trust Him completely, and all will be well.”  As I write this six years since his death I can attest to the reality that all will be well.  God chose to bless me with a second marriage to a wonderful man who holds my hand through this hur…

The Worst

What is the worst thing you think could happen to you?  There are so many options in a fallen world that it is hard to consider the worst.  We try not to think about it.  We do think we are going through the worst thing when we lose a loved one, are betrayed by a friend or family, sent to prison, or become the victim of a crime.  You know the worst thing that has happened to you.  You can think of someone for whom you are grateful that what happened to that person didn’t happen to you.               The world is full of frightening and dreaded options of worst case scenarios.  When you read the Bible, it is not hard to decide what the worst thing that could happen in your lifetime would be.  The Bible makes it clear that the worst is that you do not believe in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and be saved.               That sounds like a Sunday School answer doesn’t it?  It doesn’t feel that bad to say “No Thank You” to God.  Many don’t even recognize the day that they to…