Susan Hetrick

Read: James 4:1-10

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. (v. 8)

There has been a movement lately promoting “mindfulness” as a way to relieve stress and be more focused. Employees at Google undertake mindfulness training, college students learn it through meditation practice, and in Christian churches it is taught through reflective journaling. Mindfulness is being aware of your thoughts and actions, as they occur. It is being attentive to your experiences and surroundings. Of course, this is not new. Brother Lawrence, a seventeenth-century monk, called it practicing the presence of God.

In this section of his letter, James is talking about mindfulness. He asks us to look at our actions and motivations, and to repent. The Greek word for repentance—metanoia—means to change your mind. James is asking us to become mindful of God’s continuous presence. When James says “draw near to God,” he doesn’t mean physically moving toward God, as if God is far away. He means to practice being aware of God’s presence in you at all times.

So how do we do this? Well, it takes practice. It is consciously praying while you’re driving; it’s reminding yourself that God is here—in the elevator at work; it is being aware that the Holy Spirit is with you as you eat, or brush your teeth, or watch TV. When your mind wanders (and it will) it takes practice to turn your mind back toward God, but you will find that as you draw nearer, God is ever closer.

—Susan Hetrick

Help us be mindful of you, O God.