How do you experience God? Do you find yourself closest to Him when you look at the ocean, the mountains, or a beautiful sunrise? Do you experience God best through music, or art? Maybe it’s in the silence of a chapel, or your prayer time in the shower, or the car, when things are finally quiet for a moment in life and you can reflect. We all experience God differently, and that is because we were all uniquely made by our Creator. Think for a minute about the times in your life you’ve felt closest to God. Where were you? What were you doing? What about that moment made you connect with God? In her new book All Shall Be Well, author Catherine McNiel points out that while we believe God created this world, we sometimes forget that He hasn’t left – that His redemptive, creative work happens every day. If you’re anything like me it’s something you probably forget more often than you’d like, as you go through the chaos of everyday life. McNiel’s new book is a refreshing reminder to me that God is here, even when I’m not looking. But what can we do to help ourselves remember this important truth? Let’s think for a moment about some ways we can remember that God is here, everyday.
Psalm 19:1 says that “the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” For me, nature is one of the most obvious ways to experience God. I just returned from a couple of mini vacations, one to Lake Michigan and one to Lake Erie. Sitting on the beach, watching the sun set over the water, was a God moment. The beach has always been a place where I feel God. I remember very well, a mission trip I took as a teenager, where we had a beach side service, and sang worship songs. That moment, singing praises to God while listening to the sounds of the ocean, will likely never leave my memory. I felt His presence so strongly. But what about nature in your everyday life? McNiel’s book All Shall Be Well talks about this very subject. She shares that the beauty of creation is a great scavenger hunt. We may not get to go to the beach, or the mountains everyday. But every day, we can hear a bird sing, or see a rabbit dart across the road, or watch the snow fall delicately to the ground, and if we look, we can see God. McNiel says that God made this world of light and darkness, summer and winter, life and death. And she poses the question of what God intends to teach us in these ever-repeating cycles and seasons.It’s an incredible thing to think about. What kind of beauty did God place before you in the scavenger hunt He created for you today? Maybe it’s a sunrise on your early, sleepy drive to work. Maybe it’s as simple as a leaf that falls to the ground, brushing your arm as it does. Focus on the beauty that God is showing you in your everyday life, on your own personal scavenger hunt, and you’ll know God is here.
2) Trials and Tribulations
One of the best ways to know God is here everyday, is to look back on trials you’ve faced, and recall the ways God has seen you through. My sister has a prayer board in her bathroom, where she often prays while she gets ready in the mornings. She has little post it notes of prayers for others, and for herself, and moves them to another side of the board when they are answered. I love this idea! It’s a great reminder to her of the ways God has seen her, and her friends and family, through trials and tribulations. McNiel’s book tells us that God is always, always making things new. We may not realize it at the time. But He is there, creating a path for us. When 6 months into my first job after college I was laid off, and eventually resorted to beginning to work in a restaurant, I was devastated. But that job provided me the flexible hours that ended up being needed to care for my first child, who had special needs. God knew that a normal 9-5 job wouldn’t allow for therapies and doctors appointments. So He made things new. God is present in our trials. Even in the horror that we often see in the news, God is present. I heard a long time ago that in a tough situation, always look for the ray of hope. Always look for the heroes. I try to apply this to daily struggles on a personal level, as well as to coping with tragedies in our nation and world. For example, when my daughter was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, I found God’s hope through a therapist with only one arm. She took her tough situation and turned it into a career of helping others. Hope. I found it through a college friend of my sisters, who had the same condition my daughter did, and as an adult, was walking, talking, and had a masters degree in her field. Hope. As the book All Shall Be Well points out, hope is courageous. And hope is ALWAYS there. We just need to look for it. Try finding the hope in your trials.Try starting a prayer board, so you can look back at how God has provided. You’ll find, as McNiel says, that God is present in the dense fertility of life crashing everywhere. You’ll find that God is ever-present.
3) Church, Friends, and Family
Another way to help yourself remember that God is here every single day, in every single moment, is to “do life” with people who believe the way you do. When you’re having trouble remembering God is with you, these are the people that will remind you. The book All Shall Be Well tells us that faithfulness is a team sport. McNiel shares that we were never meant to do life alone. Surrounding yourself with other believers is one of the best ways to remember God is here. You’ll see it in their lives. One of my college roomates has a 15 year old boy battling very rare, very aggressive cancer. As tragic as it is, this friend and her story remind me almost daily that God is here. I see the little ways He is working in this boys life, I hear about their entire community rallying around him, and I see hope. While it is completely unintentional on her part, she, and her family, are ministering to me. Other times it’s more intentional. I reach out to our church for prayer, and have hand written letters mailed to my house from people praying. I have phone calls and emails. I know that God is here, because His people are caring for me.
I know, it sounds a little weird to say that one of the main ways to know God is here every day is silence. But I definitely think this is true. In my life, silence is hard to come by. I have two young children, a dog that barks at trucks, other people, and other animals, and I work in a very high volume pharmacy where noise and chaos abound. Silence, as they say, is golden for me. So getting a break from all that, in and of itself, is proof to me that God is here, caring for me and my needs. But apart from that, God speaks in the silence. When life is chaotic, it’s hard to hear God. When life is quiet, it becomes much easier. McNiel says that silence is a gift from God. But she also shares that it can be terrifying, and illuminating. This is when God may tell us to do something we don’t want to do, or reveal to us an area of life we should change, or something we need to be more faithful with. It may not be easy, but silence is absolutely a way to know God is with you. Try to carve out some silence in your life so you can experience God. Turn off the music or the podcast in the car, or the shower. Take a walk through your neighborhood when you first wake up, when things are still and quiet. God will meet you there.
You may have some mountain top moments, some experiences with God that are etched in your memory, like the one I shared with you. But there are also plenty of moments in our every day life that reveal God’s love for us, His ever-present hand guiding us. All Shall Be Well shares this truth, and helps us discover how God meets and transforms us in the mess and abundance of every mundane moment. Check out the new book for a refreshing revelation about God’s presence in our lives. Try some of the ideas above, to help you look for God everyday, and experience Him in the seemingly boring moments the same way you experience him in those mountain top moments. You’ll be glad you did.
Julie is a life-long Hoosier, wife, and mother of two. When she is not working in her pharmacy, she spends her time with her husband and daughters in Indianapolis. She is a member of Geist Christian Church and enjoys playing outside with her girls, finding fun things to do in Indy, watching football, and reading bedtime stories.