Spiritual Multitasking (or How to Be A Contemplative)

God has wired us to multitask. At least that's what I decided during our informal teaching time Sunday night at church. He has wired us to be able to two tasks at once (which I admittedly struggle with).

1. Our first task is to be aware of God's presence and voice. At all times. This presumes that we are following God. It presumes that God is ever present (not just omnipresent--in all places--but at all times as well) and that He speaks and His voice can be heard. It also presumes that we want to hear God's voice and know that He is with us. I believe that this is at the root of following Jesus, however.

2. Our second task is doing whatever job we have before us. This may be our paid vocation, doing household chores, visiting a sick friend, studying for a class or a number of other regular routines or work.

This is how we're meant to multitask. We're meant to be able to focus on God while doing whatever it is we do throughout our day. Jesus had many analogies for this like a branch being connected to its vine or sheep hearing their shepherd's voice. The Apostle Paul referred to it as "praying continuously." The ancient monk Brother Lawrence called it The Practice of the Presence of God. 

These thoughts came up on a discussion about living a contemplative life. It's one of the values of our church. Contemplative living isn't a very easy thing to take hold of, though. Our first thought is probably of ancient monastics living by themselves, speaking to no one and spending all day in prayer and fasting. That kind of life isn't obtainable (nor desirable) for most of us.

Contemplation is more than that, though. At it's basic meaning, to contemplate means to think about something thoroughly or to look at something thoughtfully. At it's foundation in the same root word as "temple," the Latin templum: ground set aside for worship. Contemplation is worship simply through awareness of God.

There is also an intentionallity about contemplation. It rarely just happens. This is often why I fail. I neglect being intentional about focusing on God. Yet in order to multitask in this way--to be contemplative throughout my day, no matter what I'm doing, I must be intentional. You can't be contemplative without fostering a intentional focusedness on God. It's something you must choose to do each day--each minute.

Fostering this intentionality doesn't require that you become a monastic recluse. God intends that we do it in our daily lives. That is where we need God most, and that is where He shows up.

One of my friends at church doesn't like the word contemplation--mainly because of all the high and lofty images that come with it. It seems that a contemplative life is unobtainable because of that. Instead, though, he offered up the phrase, "Immersed life." That works: being immersed in God's presence...in His love, in our place before Him. It's a good place to start each day (and continue on throughout every minute of it).

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