The Practice of the Presence of Jesus, by Joni Eareckson Tada
37/60 | Started 04.14.23 • Finished 08.10.23 | 4 stars
Having never read anything by Joni Earackson Tada, and also having never heard of Brother Lawrence, I was curious about this one when it popped up on NetGalley. While I didn't get to dwell in it daily like one would normally do with a devotional, I was still able to appreciate what Tada has collected here, and to resonate with several of the entries.
The path to heaven is much like the path to Calvary - mostly uphill, filled with danger, and stained with blood.... If I wanted to be like Jesus, I must bear a cross. I can't have Jesus without a cross. But it's not a one-size-fits-all cross that's generic to all; it is a cross specific to me. My cross. It's honed by God and heavy enough to ensure that I'll require his help every step of the way (it wouldn't be a cross if it were easily borne). So when I daily pick up my cross, I "die to the sins that Christ died for on his cross." I die to complaining, fears of the future, comparing my lot with others, and coddling doubts about God's character. My cross cuts at and carves away sin; it wounds me and finally perfects in me the glorious image of my Savior. It's why the presence of Jesus is my dearest companion on the road to heaven. I love to fix my eyes on him who, for the joy set before him, endured his cross and sat down at the right hand of God's throne.
Frankly, I didn't connect with everything that Tada had to say. Sometimes I found it in the contemplative realm, which I find to be a little squishy at times. I also didn't always grasp how her reflections fit in with the passage from Brother Lawrence she quoted. Finally, I felt like the meditation line at the end of each entry mostly fell flat. To me, it either didn't fit with what I'd just read, or it was too simplistic for what I'd just read.
A syrupy picture of Jesus requires nothing from us; a nostalgic idea of him requires no conviction or commitment. It lacks power because it lacks truth. So for a moment, brush aside the birds and the lilies, and consider the facts: A dead man walked out of his grave.
All together, I found this to be a fairly solid devotional. I would prefer one that focuses on a verse or two (or several) before a quote from another saint, but that doesn't mean that this one came without references. Tada incorporates a lot of scripture in her reflections. If you've enjoyed Tada before, you'd probably be all over this one. I would probably choose something else, but I still found this to be commendable.