Blog # 432 Living in God's Presence
People have told me they have found God present while walking in the woods, skiing down a mountain, or holding a newborn baby. I can understand this. I have been there. Someone also told me that if he were looking for God, one of the last places he would look would be in Church. That
made me think. In the end I could also understand something of what he was saying, and it made me sad.
Why would someone expect and experience God's presence in the woods, in the snow, and in a baby, and not in Church?
Words like beauty, truth, goodness, power, strength, generosity, wisdom, joy, relationship, meaning, and love all come to mind as part of what all of us seek and need in order to be happy. The realities experienced by such words are to be sought and found both within and around us. They are not found completely all at once, as when you might buy a golf club and you get the whole club all at once, even though the club will grow in value and meaning for you as you use it to play the game, enjoy it, and let it tell you your game is improving or going down hill.
This is because a golf club is entirely physical, a material reality. We, in a human personal capacity, can add other dimensions to the club: hope, joy, remembrance, etc. The realities I mentioned as the object of the need and quest of each of us are spiritual realities. They manifest themselves and can be found in our behavior and experience in varying degrees. They are not locked into physical dimensions such as color and shape as the golf club is. Our share of wisdom, hope, love, and goodness is limited but open ended. No matter how much love we have, this side of death we never have it all.
A golf club is always the same size and shape. We want it for what it is. We protect it to keep it from being stolen bent or broken. Love, as a spiritual reality, is open ended and can grow. We want it not only for what it is but for what it can be. We protect what we have of it but we are always seeking more. We do not always need or want another golf club, but we always want more love.
One of the problems is we do not always realize this. It seems we sometimes seek more things and physical pleasures as though in them happiness would automatically be ours. This would be like a person seeking to play a better game of golf who would buy more clubs rather than work on his or her golf swing. Though a club is part of a good game of golf it is not the game. A good game of golf is not in the club but in your use of it.
Now back to God. Where is God? God is everywhere. That statement has been, is, and always will be true. But the same changeless ever-changing God is present always and everywhere differently at different times and in different things and places. That is one way of saying we do not know exactly what we are saying when we speak of God. But we can understand something of the truth of that profound statement by seeing something of a reflection of it in a golf club.
The club is the same all week as it sits in the trunk of your car as it is out on the course on Saturday mornings. Yet it is much different in the two instances. God is the same yet different always and everywhere.
Your golf club is always yours, wherever it might be. But it is especially your club when you are using it to play golf. So God is. God is always and everywhere. But God is especially our God when we pray. And only when we pray. So if you can pray when walking in the woods, skiing down a mountain, or holding a newborn baby, your God is there.
If we do not pray in the snow we do not find God there. If we do not pray in church we do not find God there. If we do not pray, wherever we might be, does not mean God is not present. Some people own golf clubs they never use.
And when we pray in the snow it is not just the whiteness we experience but the cold as well. When we pray in church God is present not only in the walls and beautiful windows that surround us but in the people, and in the relationships that call us to forgiveness patience trust hope generosity joy and love. Rather than discover by faith and accept this challenge that comes with the presence of God wherever we are, some people let themselves be tempted to say God is not present.
Even as He continues to create us and everything and everyone around us moment by moment, may God be present to us through faith and love everywhere we go!
I begin to understand more fully the words of Paul to the Thessalonians: "Rejoice always, never cease praying, render constant thanks ; such is God's will for you in Christ Jesus". (1 Thes. 5:17). As a prayer those words come out like this: Lord, help us rejoice always! May we never stop praying and giving You thanks in and through Jesus Your Beloved Son. Amen!