Back in the day, Mars Hill Graduate School had a journal (I guess I also ought to add that back in the day Mars
Hill had a graduate school, but that is a different story). And it was a great journal, filled with interesting
articles, great discussions about movies and literature, and lots of poetry (I can’t tell you how I wished I
understood poetry, all those beautiful words written so flowingly, all signs of a bright and gifted mind,
supposedly). But the one section that always caught my attention was the section entitled, “Reminders of
God.” In it, the authors would discuss finding God in the most unlikely of places: in secular movies and books,
in modern art, in heartbreaking human events and in a hundred other places where discerning any trace of
God would seem quite unlikely. But he was there for anyone with eyes to see. But there’s the rub. Most of us
don’t know how to look.
That’s one of the reasons I think mission trips are so significant. God is always so visible. Consider our trips. At
the end of the day, we would gather together as a team to debrief, to plan for the next day and to pray. But
before we got to any of that, we would ask everyone a simple but crucial question: “Where did you see God
today?” Unsurprisingly, most people had an answer. It may not have been fireworks or theophanies, but it
was always clear and meaningful. People would see God in incredible conversations, in providential incidents,
in the support and encouragement of teammates and in answers to prayer. And this happens every day on
such a trip! God seems to be everywhere and doing all sorts of big things. That’s why some people believe
that on the mission field God wears bright clothes, dons a big hat and shoots off bottle rockets every five
minutes so we can see him easily, but that’s not what he does back here at home. Here, God seems to wear
camouflage. Ask anyone. “Where did you see God today?” is a hard question to answer. But God is here, and
God wants to be found. Even now, God is with us. Even now, he is at work in our lives and in our world. We
just need to be reminded of these things. But where can we find such reminders? Three thoughts.
First, remember, prayer opens our eyes to God’s presence like few other things. Starting our day by praying
the Lord’s Prayer reminds us about what is truly important in life. More than that, if you are centered on
God’s name, kingdom and will, God will seem to be everywhere. Saying the Jesus prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner”) three or four times a day invites God to join us in whatever we are
doing. And amazingly, God often answers that prayer! And I love sentence prayers that express gratitude
because gratitude turns our hearts back to God. Bottom line: our prayers remind us that God is indeed
present and that he is for us.
Second, remember that wonder and awe also open our eyes to God’s presence. Karl Barth, the great German
theologian, spoke of wonder as the primary trait of the Christ follower. William Yeats, the Irish poet (oh how I
wish I grasped poetry, but my skill in verse is woefully lacking), wrote: “The world is full of magic things,
patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” Ask me what today’s church desperately needs and I will
tell you: we need spiritual eyes that can see God’s magic all around us, eyes of faith that will spur us on to
wonder and worship. And in case Yeats didn’t do it for you, consider this from Goethe: “A man should hear a
little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not
obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul” (I may just be speaking
anecdotally, but it sure seems Goethe values poetry!). Bottom line: A little more wonder in our life will do
wonders for our ability to see God in the ordinary of our lives.
Jonathan Swift once said: “Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.” And there it is. To find God in the
ordinary, we need to have eyes to see and a heart that expects him to show up (even in some unexpected
places). We talk a lot about our calling in life. Here it is: to look around at the ordinary and find God. Why?
Because when we see God in our day-to-day ordinary lives, we suddenly realize life is extraordinary. We see
that God is at work all around us. And that vision, transforms us. As the poet Bobby Dylan, once said: “I was
so much older then; I’m younger than that now.” Amen and amen.