One of the richest things for me the past while has been learning to see God in all things. I have to admit some days I am blind as a bat and finding God in some things is like a brutal "Where's Waldo" puzzle. If you have ever seen a Where's Waldo you know these are often a flurry of images, colours, shapes and sizes, and often trying to find Waldo in all this visual noise can be a little overwhelming. Maybe you can see the connection with trying to see God in all things?
Seeing God in all things doesn't necessarily imply God causes all things rather it just affirms that God is there in the midst of real life. For me, learning (some days better at it than others) to see God in the people and situations of real life helps connect me in a deeper way with God and real life. It brings a greater sense of peace, meaning and purpose and a renewed desire to live a little more authentically. It seems to bring a richness to even some of the most mundane, and yes, painful things in life.
Developing the eyes to see God in things takes practice, and you may discover it is more accurately an art than a cut-and-dried five principles. With that being said, I have found a few things particularly helpful. So here are a few quick things I think will go a long way to getting on your way!
Before we can begin to see God in all things, it is important that we get a hold of the idea that the Father is indeed in all things. Not only in God are all things held together, moreover, the personal and involved God is present and active in the world around us; our lives and the lives of those around us. To see God in all things we need to know that indeed God is actually active in all things.
For the first little while, it is important to be actively in looking. You will find after some time this new way of seeing will become more natural. In the meantime, consciously step back and prayerfully see where God may be and doing in a particular situation. This can be done at work, the grocery store, school and at home. Another great way to learn is to take 20 minutes at the end of the day to prayerfully reflect back over your day. Prayerfully with God, let your mind wander over the events, situations and encounters of your day. Pay attention to your emotions as you do. Often our emotions can give us clues to a situation that God was working in. Allow God to lead this exercise and ask Him to help you see how and where He was present. Avoid over-analyzing, simply let the Father help you see Him.Spiritual Direction: a friend along the way.
Sometimes God is present in ways that we don't recognize. I think of the Pharisees, for example, who were missing God in Jesus. I can also really identify with the two fella's on the Road to Emmaus who walked and talked with Jesus after His death with no clue it was the resurrected Jesus... until He had vanished. Sometimes our worldview and the thoughts we have about God can get in the way of recognizing God - weird eh? All this to say that the posture of humility and the acceptance that we cannot possibly know everything about God will help us to remain open to be surprised by God.
Seeing God in all things not only includes using our eyes and ears, it also includes seeing and hearing with our whole body. Now before you click exit because I am slipping into some "hooky spooky stuff" think about this. We were created to be physical human beings - to have a body. We are whole human beings with a body, soul and spirit. Take away any one of these, and we cease to be truly human! Much of our western Christian villian-ization of the physical body has more to do with Greek philosophers than Christian theology. The Father created us as physical human beings to have a relationship with us, and it is good to be reminded that the Christian hope is a PHYSICAL bodily resurrection not just an ethereal spirit. That being said, as whole human beings we were created to have a relationship with God and possess the standard equipment to do so - it's just sometimes we forget this. All this to say - listen to your body and your senses because healthy Christian spirituality will always make us more authentically human, rooted in the body and reality.
Stay Awake! Many of us tend to live life on auto-pilot! We are often so busy, and life is full of pressure, in addition we often find ourselves living in the past with regret or live in the future with our never ending to-do list. As such, living whether in the past or the future or a combination of the two, we don't really live in the present. This takes some effort to recognize when you are thinking about the past or the future, and deliberately stop and pay attention to what is happening now - the person in front of us for example. Yes, sometimes it is necessary to reflect on the past and deal with stuff, and likewise, it is good to reflect on our to-do list but not at the expense of the present.
There are plenty of other healthy, effective ways to cultivate a lifestyle of seeing God in all of life. Be patient with yourself and realize, in some things - things that are painful, senseless and tragic - it may not be all that easy to see God, but I am reminded that looking for God in all things, even when we can't see Him, still produces a deeper more vibrant life!
Where's Waldo - © 2009 Classic Media Distribution Ltd.