Two years ago we were faced with the same decision: To move to Redding CA or to St Andrews Scotland. Two years ago we choose Redding Ca. Now we are moving to St Andrews Scotland. There are a lot of ways I could attempt to understand and process the past two years. But I can sum them up in 1 word: PRESENCE.
When I was in High School I read "practicing the presence of God" by Brother Lawrence. I'm pretty sure if I read it now it would be amazing--but all I remember is to try to think about God every minute. It was a mental exercise for me. This was before I had much of an understanding of God's ability to talk to me, be present to me now. I was left with my mind--to understand (or not) and to remain conscious of God. It was a little tiring and frankly hard!
Now Presence means something so much more. God is alive. God is in the room. God is interacting with me and not only that but there are angels, and a whole spiritual world that we interact with whether we realize it or not. Practicing the Presence of God now means becoming aware of what God is doing, how God is feeling, what God is saying or simply just aware of God's presence. It means telling Jesus how much I love him while I'm doing the dishes. Remembering that I don't have to do it on my own as I wake up in the morning. Taking a deep breath, breathing God in, looking Jesus in the eyes in a moment of stress and experiencing the peace that surpasses understanding wash through me.
I was sitting on an airplane a month ago, waiting to fly home before my Grandmother died, and I decided to let myself become aware of what God was doing around me on the plane. Now I actually dread plane rides for this very reason. Preachers always tell stories of amazing conversations they have on the plan and if I happen to be on a plane without my kids all i want to do is zone out. I had just read a book which talks about the spiritual world around us. It ended encouraging us to practice. So, since the woman next to me had put on headphones I decided it was safe to practice since she didn't want to talk! What a relief! I asked Holy Spirit--what is going on around me. Immediately I had a thought--"The woman next to you needs to know that she is good at making decisions, that she is smart, and the she has what it takes to figure out the decisions right now in her job." Awesome. Now what am I supposed to do?!!!
One of the things about God's Presence is that I've learned we can interact with God and actually change the atmosphere around us. Sure God is always with me, but God's Presence increases with worship. So I decided to worship-in my head--and see if I could shift the atmosphere in the row in my plane enough that I wouldn't have to talk to the woman! I listened to some worship music for the whole flight. As we were landing I put away my head phones and the woman followed suit. Before I knew it we were in a conversation about where we lived, what we were up to... So...I decided to let her know what I had heard. "This may sound strange but I was praying and I thought I heard God say this--that you are really good a making decision...." She started started to cry. Without going in to her story, this was the right word for the right time. We had a short 5 minute conversation I prayed for her, she gave me a hug and with that we got off the plane.
I learned God could speak to me years ago, but it has only been recently that I've learned about shifting atmospheres, interacting with God as a Presence here on earth. I've said this before and I'll say it again--God is in the room and God is good, and that changes everything. And so now as my home shifts again, the fact that God's Presence, Greg and our kids go with me, means that home can almost be just about anywhere.
Ali Millikan, Author
I love Father, Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit. I love my husband and kids. I believe that God is in the room with us; that hearing God's voice is for everyone and that it will change your day to day reality.