2 Corinthians 1:8-11 - "For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many."
Just as he did in 1 Corinthians, Paul points to God's ability to raise the dead to create a foundation for our faith. In Paul's first letter to the church at Corinth, he is using Jesus' resurrection as a starting point for all other insights into human life. In his second letter, resurrection is used as a comfort to help us through our trials. Even when faced with death, Paul and his fellow travelers trusted in God, because God has the power to raise the dead. Death has no power! So, why fear it? Paul was able to face any trial, not because he is incredibly courageous or fearless, but because He trusted in God.
"Neither skill nor knowledge is needed to go to God, he added. All that is necessary is a heart dedicated entirely and solely to Him out of love for Him above all others."
"Our sanctification does not depend as much on changing our activities as it does on doing them for God rather than for ourselves."
I am reading through Brother Lawrence's "The Practice of the Presence of God" for the first time. I wish I had done so sooner, as I am already finding some impactful and challenging thoughts. The two quoted above are the starkest examples.
They both encapsulate an idea that is far too common. That is, that we need to learn how to do certain things or change certain things about our life before we are able to approach God. Too often we are scared to pray, scared to read the Bible, scared to worship, because we fear that we do not have the prerequisites for engaging in those activities. Brother Lawrence is dispelling that myth. God wants to meet us where we are and help us grow. He wants a sincere heart that is dedicated solely to Him. If we offer that, the rest of the work is done by God.
The second quote hits what is the main theme of the book: doing all--and he means all!--things for God. Brother Lawrence's theology of presence is encouraging. It comes from a heart that all things can be done for God. That is what we all ought to be aiming for.