I have a story of where God was today, but before I get to it, I wanted to reflect on this whole business of “seeing God”. What exactly does it mean anyways to “see God in one’s day”? Most people would not disagree that we see God in a loved one, in a scene of beauty, a great meal or in the kind acts of others. But if you’re like me, we can be pretty blind when we’re anxious, distracted by some worry or rushing around. Or all of the above!
Seeing God and having our hearts changed involves a certain “letting go” of the way we normally rush around. When my way of doing things leads me to some kind of dead end, my stubborn blinders
start falling off in my need for a better way. The Bible talks about this as becoming “poor in spirit”. In fact, the Bible says we’re even blessed to be poor. It’s a mystery that I usually resist living into, but it always ends up being true.
On to today’s story.
I start each day with some reading from scripture and today I quickly became aware that I was feeling down because of this crazy habit I have of comparing myself to others. You’d think I’d be grown out of this by now, but even at 50, it still has a sneaky way of wiggling into my thoughts at times! I used to try to analyze it, but over the years I have started to see it just as a weak link in the old DNA (talk about poverty!)
So as I sat down with my coffee and my book, I first realized that reading scripture was the last place I wanted to be. Sometimes misery doesn’t want to be exposed to new possibilities. But, the coffee was so good that I decided to hang in there. I usually read the day’s scripture and see if there’s anything that jumps out at me. It wasn’t long before I saw it, the verse that seemed to be speaking “just to me”, addressing my being. It was in the New Testament and was about how we see ourselves.
“The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.” Romans 12:3 (Message translation).
How I heard this from God, addressed to yours truly, was this, “Lydia, you so often think you need to do it all, to be capable and good. In some subtle way, you kind of take over the God role and do all the worrying, when really you’ve forgotten there’s a bigger picture at work. Remember you don’t need to be ‘as good’ as anyone, because you’re already accepted and forgiven. That’s what I have already done for you, like the verse said.”
With a prayer of thanks and for continued help, I went into my day, but the down feelings kind of followed me until later in the afternoon when my thoughts searched back to the verse. What was that word I heard earlier? Oh yeah, I didn’t need to earn my way to God’s favor, because it was already in place. Heck, I didn’t even need to try to conquer the down feelings. Maybe I could entrust those to God too.
Reflecting on the verse in that moment was a small pause in the day (done even as I was interacting with my students at the Pow Wow we went to today). As small as the pause was, a while later, I noticed that the down feelings were replaced by a peace, like the clouds that had blown over during our afternoon field trip.
The truth of God’s acceptance of me, “warts and all”, is something mysteriously healing and is beyond my understanding in its power to fix me. Carl Ridd, who was one of my cherished university profs, used to say that to “understand” something meant to “stand under” it. I caught a small reminder today of standing under God’s view of things. My response was gratitude and as we got up to dance in a crowded circle in a hot gym with all the smiling students and teachers, I saw everyone contained in the bigger circle. All of us God’s children, all of us cherished, all of us imperfect, yes, but above all, loved.