Jan Johnson

Wisbit - July 2014

The With-God Life

One of my directees runs an organization with 330 staff and a large budget. He is in and out of meetings all day and constantly interacts with people. He asked me, Is it really so important that I talk to God about things - even little things - all day long? My experience is that this continual conversation throughout the day makes life so much richer.

The authors of Joy Starts Here called it the “Immanuel lifestyle” because Immanuel means God-with-us. They describe it this way:

    The Immanuel lifestyle is one in which we increasingly discover how Jesus does things and invites us to join him while we enjoy him. Increasing awareness of God’s interactive presence with us begins to enter ways we relate with others, live our lives, raise our children, do our work and drive our cars. It takes very little observation to notice that when we are aware of God’s presence and point of view, there is profound peace as we live that moment. Shalom is that sense that God is working everything together in a good way even when we are not sure how. We sense that God is not worried so why should we be troubled?   (pp. 130-131)

Such a life is not only possible, but also desirable. As we learn to live this way, we don’t feel so alone in facing the challenges of life. God is the companion of our life. God is at our my side and I am at God’s side in a very real sense. God’s presence is more real than the keys I’m typing on my keyboard. They will not exist a thousand years from now, but my life with God will be more real than ever.

We can also ask God for courage and for good ideas and God will give them to us. We can ask God questions, especially, What do I need to know about this person I’m meeting for lunch? About this circumstance that baffles me?  About how to treat this pain in my shoulder?  God has good ideas and I’m eager to hear them - I need them!  As I open the Bible or listen to a sermon, I can always ask, What is it I need to know here? To absorb more deeply?  To rethink?

This conversational life is so much more expansive than simply dialing in and asking for a good parking place. I suppose there are times when that might be a good idea, but ours is a full-orbed relationship with God, not about getting more stuff or making life more convenient.

In this “with-God life,” we spend our days Enjoying the Presence of God. It’s a good thing. It’s a safe thing. Before the beginning of the world, God thought of you, and thought, What a great idea! I can hardly wait until you show up! This with-God life is what we were built to run on. Without it, we are only half-alive.

Grace and peace,
Jan Johnson

What is a directee?  He or she is someone I work with in my role as a spiritual director. Are you interested in taking spiritual direction training? I’m teaching a course in Richmont Graduate School’s Certificate of Spiritual Direction program. The course begins this fall semester and the first residency is October 29-November 2, 2014 in Atlanta Georgia.  Applications are currently being received and interviews are underway.



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