Sunday, 03 August 2014 14:42

Hidden from the Wise

Written by  Sam Whatley
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The Bible has some interesting comments about people who are wise in their own eyes. Consider this passage from I Corinthians 3:18-20:

“Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a ‘fool’ so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’; and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise are futile.’”


By contrast, Jesus said, “…anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:17


A good example of this paradox may be found in the life of an uneducated French cook in the 1600s. In a monastery in Paris he was known as Brother Lawrence, but he entered this life as Nicholas Herman from Lorraine. A disabled veteran of the Thirty Years War, he did not enter the Carmelite priory until he was about 40. His battle wounds made walking almost impossible and very painful. Herman described himself as clumsy and awkward. Coming to the small priory, he hoped to redeem himself for his many mistakes by enduring strict discipline and the punishment he expected from those in authority. But he was wrong in his expectations. After years of seeking an awareness of God’s presence, he came to feel God with him always. He became noticeably peaceful and joyful, even when spending hours washing pots and pans. And that is when people starting talking about him.


Word reached the abbot of the monastery that something strange was happening to the crippled cook in the kitchen. He didn’t worry; he didn’t complain. He smiled a lot. He said that he talked to God silently nearly all the time. He said that he was “practicing the presence of God.” Someone needed to find out what was going on.


The abbot asked Brother Lawrence how he had come to faith in Christ. Brother Lawrence described a winter scene that he had witnessed at the age of 18 that he believed changed his spiritual life. He said it was not a vision, but a supernatural clarity of a common occurrence. He said he saw a barren tree in the snow and realized that God would bring leaves and flowers to that tree in the spring and fruit to it in the summer. Then he realized that the same One who would regenerate the tree each year can bring redemption to any of us, if we will but seek Him. After that Brother Lawrence sought to do all things for the love of God and to seek His presence. He had come to the monastery to pay for his sins, but now he realized Jesus had already paid for them. He had only to praise God and carry on a silent conversation with Him at all times, even when he worked. He said he felt as close to God in the kitchen preparing a meal as he did on his knees at communion.


Word reached Abbot Joseph de Beaufort, counsel to the Archbishop of Paris, to come and interview Brother Lawrence. Beaufort and Brother Lawrence soon became friends, having several conversations and eventually exchanging letters over the next 25 years. Beaufort wanted to print a pamphlet of Brother Lawrence’s conversations, letters and spiritual maxims, but the cook would not allow it. He did not want to attract any attention to himself. However after Brother Lawrence died in 1691, Joseph de Beaufort published The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.


The little book is still being printed and has touched and challenged millions of Christians in the past 300 years. John Wesley recommended it to all new believers. A.W. Tozer, the theologian of the 20th century, encouraged many to read it. Brother Lawrence did not intend to write a book. He did not have enough formal education to be a clergyman, but he had a relationship with God that many church leaders longed for, but did not achieve.


But any of us could achieve it if we truly humbled ourselves and practiced the presence of God.




Last modified on Sunday, 03 August 2014 14:46
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