Seeing God at work

by Demi Prentiss

A large part of living our ministries in daily life is cultivating the ability to perceive where God is acting, and then aligning ourselves with what God is up to. Understanding ourselves as co-creators with God – partners in a whole-life commitment to increasing love and justice in the world – is a life-giving, purposeful way of living God’s dream for our lives.

So how do you see where God is acting? How can you tell?

Look at events. In those events in our world that are clearly life-giving, it’s pretty easy to say, “Yes, God’s at work here.” But what about the terrible events? The heart-wrenching, “it-can’t-be” events? Take a page out of Fred Rogers’ book – look for the helpers. In the “Cajun navy” that jumped into john-boats to rescue neighbors and strangers when the floods came. In the three strangers who defended Muslim teenagers on a commuter train. In the teacher who spots the middle-schooler who’s being abused at home, or trafficked. In the midst of the brokenness around us, God is working in and through the helpers.

A young survivor is gently extracted from the wreckage of Korean Airlines flight 801 by U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and Guam civilian rescuers.

Look at people. Especially, look at the people we tend to overlook – the bank teller, the cab driver, the grocery checker or bagger, the janitor, the bag lady. Look at those around you who are acquainted with grief (Is. 53:3). As you can, take a pause, take up your courage, and speak a word of hope or encouragement or simple acknowledgment of their humanity. Looking into their eyes, look for the light of God. You won’t always find it, particularly the first time. But practice makes it lots easier. The Celts claimed that the lark said, “Often, often, often goes the Christ in the stranger’s guise.”

Look at the world – both the natural and the created one.  All around us, God is showing up and showing off, as Reggie McNeal likes to say. In a leaf or a feather. In the music of the rain and the crash of a water fall. In the heart-grabbing poetry of inspiring architecture.  In the shadow of Earth pushing the twilight across the landscape until night falls. In the joy of an unexpected reunion.

Look inside your heart.  Take the time to notice what ignites your passion. Or what makes your pulse race.  Or unleashes tears. God’s invitation to partnership is showing up in those moments.

My friend Mary Earle often reminded me, “The Holy Spirit is a crass opportunist.” Pay attention to what you observe, and what you discern as God opens your eyes. As William Blake’s “Pentecost” reminds us, “Unless the eye catch fire, the God will not be seen.”

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