Friday, May 22, 2015

Just Be With Jesus

The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. 
(Psalm 27:4 NLT)

One of the most influential books in my spiritual life is Sacred Pathways, by Gary Thomas. I read it about 10 years ago, as I was beginning to figure out what in the world I was doing in Las Vegas, and what God might call me to do here. This book urged me to have a fuller spiritual life, to connect with God in new ways and to be more aware of his presence. It also helped me understand why friends and family members worship God in such different ways from mine. I love to worship God at home, with my open Bible and a cup of coffee. My husband loves to worship God on the church platform, playing an instrument or singing any part he is needed to on a particular weekend. 

This spring I had the opportunity to lead a small group through a discussion of Sacred Pathways. My friend Kim gave us scripture reading assignments to go with the book. I was delighted to share this book with my friends, but I was surprised to find that it had a new message for me.

As I studied, I realized something that had contributed to my season of spiritual emptiness. I connect with God intellectually through study and sharing what I have learned. I also connect through my senses—tasting and smelling and touching. And thirdly, I am what Gary Thomas calls a “contemplative.” I just enjoy being with Jesus. (Mary of Bethany is the most obvious example of this worship temperament in the scriptures.)

Over the last few years, I have focused on the intellectual side of worship. I am always studying or writing an outline or thinking about how I might share what I just read in the Bible. 

During our season of moving, I was too tired to do anything quite that structured. I was too tired to savor the clementine oranges that were in season--too tired to praise God for their taste and fragrance. And I forgot how to simply be with Jesus. He was here. He was not absent. I just forgot, as I lost my usual way of worship, to value other worship paths. I forgot to play Petra or Albinoni. (My prayer music is varied.) I forgot to whisper simple prayers while I soaked in the bathtub. 

Over and over, as I read Sacred Pathways, as I soaked in the message of Fight Back with Joy, as I prayed for a Life Unstuck, and as I walked on the beach in Oregon, I heard his whisper: "just be with me."

I have stepped back from my orderly schedule of reading Psalms in 30 days, and I have given up my plan to really dig into Isaiah this summer. Instead, I light some incense or pour a cup of coffee (coffee fumes are Baptist incense). I open a book or two (Set My Heart on Fire and Pray Like a Gourmet are on my current list). I read a Psalm or two or six. I write down a few words that touch me today. I try to carry those words with me throughout the day. I am still humming "Show Me Your Glory," though I am trying to move on to U2's "Gloria". I am trying to capture photos of God's artwork in parking lots and my backyard.

I think I will go back to all the blogposts I shared this month, and label them "Just Be with Jesus" because that is what all of my prayers and experiences have led to. This is my new hashtag, my prayer, my goal.

Lord, show me how to enjoy your company,
away from structured outlines
and planning my next book.
I want to remember how to
simply be with you.

“Be still, and know that I am God. 
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. 
(Psalm 46:10-11)

photo copyright 2015 Ruth J. Leamy


  1. Hi Ruth, I can certainly identify with your desire to "just be with Jesus". I'm glad to see that Pray Like a Gourmet is part of your spiritual re-shuffle that could help make that possible. If you have the time, let me know what you think about it and what parts of it helped the most.

    1. Thank you so much for commenting! I will definitely be reviewing Pray Like a Gourmet in more detail. I checked it out from the library, but I am going to have to buy my own copy to keep near the bathtub. Such a refreshing book.

  2. Ruth, I'd love to send you a signed copy of Pray Like a Gourmet so you could write a review of it on your blog and personally use the ideas later on. If interested, send me your address at