By: Josiah Mohr
Have you ever tried to have a conversation with a tree? Well, I have and I can definitely say I felt crazy doing it. That conversation did indeed serve a purpose, despite your raised eyebrow. Actually, it was an assignment for my class on spiritual formation, as an activity in encountering God in nature. Now, I can’t say that I found this abstract experience exceptionally beneficial to my fairly objective personality, but it did serve to further encourage me to consider exactly how I encounter God in my everyday life. My brain, in its meta-analytical state, begged to ask the question, “What is the activity of God in my life?” To further that thought, I would ask us to consider what ways God is active in our world.
Unfortunately, observing the way God works in our world is quite a bit harder than you would expect. With all the violence, politics, and protests that seem to happen daily in our world, there seems to be an excessive amount of negative news that shrouds our lives in darkness. We each deal with enough of our own stresses, relationships, and responsibilities that it can indeed be difficult to find something positive to smile about and be thankful for. It can be even harder to identify the blatant and irrefutable activity of God in our lives. It is quite unfortunate that it takes such a high level of intentionality to notice the work of God in the mess that we call life. This, I would like to emphasize, gives us all the more reason to look for the ways we encounter God so that, even in the chaos of life, we may see our need for the help of God and the opportunity we have to join Him in His work. Rather than consider God’s will for all eternity and the implications of His sovereignty, I would like us to consider the here and now, the moment in which we are living. My hope is that we can discover the ways God is working in our lives today and how we might participate in the activity of God to ultimately reconcile all people to each other and to Himself.
Let’s begin with an easy observance of God in our earthly lives. The avenue through which the activity of God can most directly be seen is in the extraordinary action of miracles. Although this particular activity of God may seem a little too obvious, I believe it is an activity that we overlook all too often with our modern science and technology. We have little expectation for divine intervention and when such an occurrence takes place, we find it easy to attribute the extraordinary to the mundane. Now this is not to say that God does not work in the mundane, but in our relationship-driven modern Christianity we can forget that the friendly God we serve is not, by any means, passive or weak. God “is not a tame lion” as C.S. Lewis notes in his Christian allegorical novel The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. God is indeed a very powerful and divine being, capable of unimaginable influence in our everyday lives, which includes nothing short of the miraculous. I am convinced that God will indeed live up to His responsibility as Creator of the universe. Yet, the most miraculous part of His power is that He freely shares it with all who have accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no shortage of divine power applied by human hands and voices in the stories of the Bible, from healings to resurrections and exorcisms to elemental control. All of these are examples of the miraculous power of God—the activity of God through the extraordinary.
The voice of God through human mouths must not be ignored. The influence of God can be clearly seen in the people around us, in our relationships with family, friends, and strangers. I’m sure that what comes to mind as soon as I mention the voice of God is the familiar experience of sitting through a sermon in church or a lecture during class. These are indeed legitimate opportunities for the truth of God to be spoken, but I would encourage us to look to the left and to the right. Consider your roommate, spouse, sibling, parent, mentor, and friend with whom you had a conversation this morning, last night, the week before, months ago, or years in the past. Take notice of these people through whom God speaks. Conversations can range from casual and comedic to intentional and intimate but through it all, the truth of God can be spoken. It is often in the many conversations we have on a daily basis that we come to a better understanding of our place in the will of God and the activity in which He would like us to participate on His behalf. In so many circumstances, I found the prophecies of God for my life to come from the people closest to me, enabling me to better understand God and myself. As a result of these conversations, I feel better equipped to have meaningful conversations with others, further spreading the truth of God. Whether we want to admit to such a responsibility or not, we are indeed the primary actors of the influence of God in our world, sharing the love He has called us to through both verbal conversation and physical sacrifice.
Finally, the work of God can be seen in the situations in which we are placed and the opportunities with which we are presented. Just as God acts in the extraordinary, God also acts regularly in the mundane. It is in our daily disciplines, habits, and routines that we should most often see the activity of God. If we truly are “bearing fruit worthy of repentance” as Matthew 3:8 commands, we should see the fruit of God in our lives. How do you answer, “What is God doing in your life?” This question is not asked nearly enough and it is perhaps the hardest one many of us encounter. It is not because God isn’t doing anything worth noting, rather it is because we are not aware enough of His presence in the mundane to notice the signs and wonders He displays right before us. The unavoidable activity of God is made apparent in the life of Jesus as noted in John 21:25, which states, “There are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” There is no limit to the story of God and the encounters that we can have with Him, even in the mundane. As a part of the history of God’s reconciliation of the world, we are far more than simply a face in the crowd, for we have God as the Holy Spirit living among us. Our potential opportunities for encounters with God are simply endless. All that is required is that we open our eyes to the wonderful things He is doing, for we are indeed a living, participating member in the activity of God.