Invitations to Listen
“God comes to you.
God comes to you disguised.
God comes to you disguised as your own life.”
– Paula D’Arcy
I love this quote, and it reflects in many ways my own personal spiritual journey this past year. I think I sometimes miss the presence of God in my life because I think it’s supposed to come as something grander, a flash of lighting, or a sudden epiphany! I’ve been connecting with a Spiritual Director this past year as a prayerful and conversational way to look for or discern God’s real and active presence and purposes for my life. I think it’s been a particularly helpful practice for me in my role as a pastor to have someone to process with outside of church; but it’s also helped me simply be more aware or mindful of the ways in which God speaks, in small ways, all the time.
In the moments when I’m listening to someone else’s story, and it awakens or alerts me to what I haven’t yet been able to see in my own. In the people who continue to annoy me until my heart stretches out in compassion. I’m learning to hear God speak in my desires, in my weakness, in my fears, in my laughter…
I love the story of Jesus calling Peter and Andrew, two brothers who were fishermen, to follow him. “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” So did Jesus go out and have to find fishermen specifically, to make the metaphor work?
What if Jesus had been walking near Winkler, where fishing is not a common occupation? Jesus said to the people who were willing to listen, “Follow me, and I’ll show you how to do whatever you are doing right now differently. In a way that makes a difference. To you. To the world.” Jesus has a way of re-orientating our lives to him if we just pay attention.
There is an old puritan saying, “God loves adverbs.” Adverbs are words that don’t so much describe what you do, but how you do it. Words like kindly, hopefully, generously. Words that can change anything we do into an act that demonstrates that inside of you lives a God who is loving and just, changing us from the inside out.
The invitations to us to turn toward God’s presence come every day, disguised in the most mundane moments, the commonest of our experiences. From the sound of a bird chirping to the newspaper flyer in your mailbox. When a face comes towards you on the street, or in a parking lot, or in the hallway, do you raise your eyes or keep them lowered? All those moments of our lives that are disguised as insignificant, that don’t grab our attention, but wait for it. These are moments when God speaks, whispers really – but He is calling out to us to live differently: attentively, kindly, humbly, generously, mercifully, contently.