What are the Fruits of Living in the Presence of God?

    The fruits of Living in the Presence of God can be, as stated by Paul in Galatians 5:22:
    love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-
    control.  When reflecting upon these, I become aware of how far short my own life in
    God’s presence is—and how much more I am invited to become.

    For me personally, I would lift up four fruits: gratitude, trust, peace, and joy. These four
    are my responses to living in the presence of God and become for me the fruits of living
    my life in the presence of God.

    I give gratitude to God for God’s blessings: life itself, the eyes to see God’s
    presence in my life, and the gift of God’s presence in times of loss, sorrow and trouble.  
    When I look at my life through the eyes of faith in God—and with a heart of gratitude—
    everything that is good comes from or through God.  What a gift to be able to
    experience a sunrise, a loved one, a friend—potentially any situation—with gratitude to
    God!!  Through the eyes of faith each new day – each new minute—becomes an
    opportunity to thank God—and to respond to each situation with the spirit of God’s
    love!  Regardless of my life’s circumstances, my heart can give unending thanks to God!

    Trust in God is a fruit of living in the presence of God.  Trust becomes strengthened
    and increased by a lifestyle that flows from acknowledging that I live in the Presence of
    God.  My mind races with worries about what has happened and fears of what will
    happen in my life.  Try as I will to overcome these worries and fears—and to know that
    for the most part they are fruitless and divert my time and attention from the things of
    God—I cannot succeed.  So, acknowledging my need to worry and to fear for the
    future, I am invited to turn to Jesus and to give to Him my cares and my burdens.
    (Matthew 11:28-30).  Jesus' words—and the words of the Psalmist “Be still and know
    that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) – become for me words of prayer that take me from my
    world of worries and fears and return me to the presence of God.  And there I can turn
    my worries and fears over to God.  What I quickly realize there is that I am not in
    control of what will happen.  I come to recognize in a given situation that at best I can
    influence a situation but cannot control its outcome.  I can control only my response.  
    So, the fruits that come in this situation from living in the presence of God are listening
    for how I am called to respond and trusting that God will be present in that response.  
    Because of God’s love for me and for God’s whole creation, I listen to hear how I
    should respond—and pray for the strength and the wisdom to choose to so act.  I do
    my very best to give over to God the results.  I do not pretend that the results will be as
    I wish—for so many times they are not. Rather, I trust that regardless of the results, our
    loving God will be there. For me, I will not attribute to God that the results that actually
    occur are the “will” of God.  For the Kingdom of God has not yet fully come on this
    earth—and by the design of God, the “will” of God for good can be thwarted by evil
    and by wrong choices by me and by others.  Whether God KNOWS the actual result
    in advance only God knows for I do not know the mind of God.  So, for me, I am able
    to trust that regardless of the actual result, God will be with me in that moment and that
    brings me peace!

    Peace is the fruit of trust in God:  “God’s peace” that is, “the peace of God which
    surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). (See also John 14: 27) It is hard to
    describe—but you know when you have it.  It is knowing that you will be safe even
    when you know that you will ultimately perish from this earth.  It is a peace that says
    that even if the trials of Job should fall upon you that God will be with you and you will
    remain in the hands of our loving God even as your world or parts of it fall apart.  It is a
    peace that points us beyond ourselves toward God—and invites us to “Be still, and
    know that I am God!”  (Psalm 46:10.) And because it points us toward God, it is a
    peace filled with HOPE!

    The final fruit I would share is that of JOY! Certainly it is no surprise that joy is the
    fruit of gratitude to God. When we experience life with gratitude and thanksgiving for
    the countless blessings received each day, it is easy to understand the fruit of joy.   But
    surprising to some, joy is also a fruit of trust in God and, over time, joy itself comes with
    the peace of Christ that passes all understanding!  When we know that God is present
    even in our times of sorrow and loss, joy too can be the fruit of God’s presence!  Henri
    Nouwen observes that joy is a choice we make (Here and Now, Living in the Spirit)—
    and, in fact, it is to a large degree.  We can choose to respond to a situation with
    despair, “why me,” and “what did I do to deserve this.”  Or, we can choose to trust
    God, receive the peace of Christ, and live the hope that comes from our looking toward
    God—rather than looking toward ourselves!  

    The fruits of living in the presence of God are many and these are only some.  They are
    not ends to be pursued for their own sake—and cannot likely be achieved if they are
    intentionally sought.  Rather, they are fruits that become gifts from our loving God to
    us—when we choose to live our lives in the presence of God.


                 What Is the Pain of Living in the Presence of God?

    Lest there by any suggestion by me that this discipline is all positive and is without its
    own pain, let me dispel such thoughts now.

    Most who practice living in the presence of God and are mindful of God’s love lead full
    lives with countless commitments and responsibilities.  Our lives are the opposite of the
    monastic or cloistered life, which is usually what one envisions when one thinks about
    living in the presence of God.  Our lives are firmly rooted in this world and the concerns
    of this world and necessarily must be because we are not able or willing to “sell what
    (we) own and give the money to the poor.” (Mark 10:21) To some degree, “living in
    the presence of God” is guaranteed to fail when we return to work, family life, or simply
    live in this world!

    There are a few consequences that one experiences. Quickly, we become aware of
    how easy it is to be pulled back into the world—to respond to the events of the world
    in very “worldly” ways.  That is, we gradually recognize how far we live from the way
    that God wants us to—and how we fail to accept the full blessing that God wants us to
    have.  This is painful.  As we increasingly become aware of God’s love for us—and the
    ways that we can experience that love—we also know that we fail to reflect God’s love
    back into the world as we are called upon to do.  We are then called upon instead to
    confess our failures and admit that we are imperfect prisms in how we reflect God’s
    love back into the world.  God, of course, knows this already—and we ourselves
    quickly become aware of this truth.  The choice then is to do one of two things: either
    abandon the discipline altogether or confess to God our failures and return to God’s
    presence.

    Each moment becomes an opportunity to return—to do better—to commit to a closer
    walk with God and to better reflect the love of God to our hurting world.  And when
    we do return to God’s presence, we are even better able to understand that God’s love
    for us is not conditioned upon what we do—but is based on who we are: the beloved
    children of God!


    It is a peace that
    points us beyond
    ourselves
    toward God—and
    invites us to “Be
    still, and know
    that I am God!”  
    (Psalm 46:10.)
    And because it
    points us toward
    God, it is a peace
    filled with HOPE!

    And when we do
    return to God’s
    presence, we are
    even better able
    to understand
    that God’s love
    for us is not
    conditioned upon
    what we do—but
    is based on who
    we are: the
    beloved children
    of God!