“Where are you God?” is often the cry of a wounded heart. If we learn to be aware of the presence of God on a continual basis, these doubts are less overwhelming when crisis hits. Recognizing the nearness of God means we see his hand of mercy everywhere. Pondering, wondering, and linking our moments to God’s design and goodness become a way of life. He becomes the center of our moments of awe. His invisible attributes, his eternal power and his divine nature are seen clearly in the things he has made (Romans 1:20). They are a call to gratitude, and they lead us to worship the Designer of all that is good.
If our assumption is that God is near, we watch for him, listen for him, and dialogue with him throughout every day. We see him in the details of life. How is he speaking to us through nature, science, medicine, and the arts? Are his words echoed in the voices of those who speak truth? Do we recognize his compassion and care when we receive the love of our brothers and sisters? When Scripture passages or refrains from a song enter our mind, do we acknowledge his voice? When we read his Word, is it as a history book or a conversation with God? Do we recognize God’s sovereign hand in what others might deem coincidence?
God is acquainted with all our ways. He knows when we sit down and when we rise up. He discerns our thoughts. Before a word is on our tongue, he knows it altogether (Psalm 139). Even the very hairs on our head are numbered (Luke 12:7). He tells us we are beloved (Romans 1:7), precious in his sight (Isaiah 43:4) and loved with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).
So how are we missing him?
There is beauty and provision in this world that is a manifestation of common grace that benefits all creatures. These moments of common grace surround us daily; yet, we often don’t recognize them as gifts from the Creator. What if they became conduits to remind us of his sovereign goodness and presence? There are specific areas of life where common grace is often taken for granted. Cultivating an awareness of how God presents himself in these areas will help us recognize his presence in our everyday lives.
Hearing God in Nature
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). Ponder the immense beauty of the universe and glorify its Artist. These are moments of worship. Telescopes beam back unfathomable, unsearchable images of God’s glory. Brilliant hues of forming nebulas, vast galaxies, and supergiant stars that dwarf our solar system declare that God is beyond the scope of comprehension. The planets will spin in orbit, the sun will rise and set, and the stars will shine until the Lord of all ordains otherwise. If God can keep the earth from catapulting into the far reaches of space, I can trust him with the enormity of my troubles.
Intricacies of nature tell us God cares about details. A spider weaving her delicate web, the rapid beat of hummingbird wings, an army of ants’ orderly marching , and the cells of the human body declare that God is the Designer of the tiniest workings of life. Ponder these things, and abide in peace knowing that he cares about the details of our lives too.
Nature’s interdependence of life glorifies the God who ordained community and caring. Geese, guided by their Creator-designed instinct, flock together in V-pattern for thousands of miles and take turns leading so those who follow can fly in the draft with less effort. Bumblebees and hummingbirds gather nectar from the brightly colored bonnets of wild flowers and in the process of mutual symbiosis pollinate the plants which beautify prairies and pastures. Beavers build lodgings that eventually dam up streams, thereby creating meadows for deer and antelope to graze. When we consider these complexities of nature, we can trust that God will provide care and community.
Let your senses assist you as you abide with the Father in nature. The song of a robin at dawn declares God’s mercies are new every morning. The caress of a cool breeze is God’s tender touch. The setting orb over a pastel-reflecting sea declares the majesty of his beauty. Be still and know that he is God.
Hearing God in the Arts
When we participate in the arts, we imitate the One who paints the sky, separates light from shadow, and conducts the symphony of nature. The Creator is the original designer of shape, texture, form, space, color and value. He is the author of language from which writers compose. He embodies us with the emotions that inspire our creations. The satisfaction we feel in creativity is a reflection of God’s joy at creation. “And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:10). God longs to abide with us as we create; after all, we are his work of art (Ephesians 2:10).
It is said that the language of the soul is music. It allows us to express emotions when we cannot find words. It also provides a pathway to communicate to God our joy and thanks as well as our deepest sorrows. If we listen, we find music everywhere declaring the character of God. Nature is filled with heavenly songs. Lullabies soothe infants and the aged alike. Bands inspire camaraderie. Orchestras ease anxiety and calm spirits. If we are cognizant of it, we realize these are the songs God sings over us (Zephaniah 3:17). Music is a channel that the Holy Spirit embodies that connects us to the Lord and each other.
King David brought dance into the worship arena, but dance has been used by all cultures to express emotions. With dance, we are able to physically raise our hands in worship and use our feet to celebrate the goodness of God, drawing us into his presence with praise.
Hearing God in Science and Technology
Science and technology are so often taken for granted; yet, they improve our lives in so many ways. Pause to consider, and thank God who gifted genius to the designers and inventors that improve our quality of life. Modern medicine is the miracle of today’s world. Just like in Jesus’ day, our vision is restored; our deaf ears hear; our lame walk again; and our sick are healed. When we ponder this, we feel the detailed care of our Provider and Great Physician.
Coming Near to God
It takes time to cultivate awareness of the nearness of God. “Give us this day . . .” Jesus prayed. When we stay present, we are more likely to notice God all around us. Are we in awe of beauty? Worship the Creator. Are we grieving? Lament, pouring our hearts out to the One who is near to the broken hearted and saves those crushed in Spirit (Psalm 34:18). Are we anxious? Abide with the Spirit by meditating on his truth while allowing nature, the arts, or God’s people to assist in calming our soul. Are we joyful? Sing praises, dance, shout, or clap our hands. Are we lonely? Meditate on the truth that our Father will never leave us or forsake us, and seek out his community. If we search for God we will find him, and we will be awed by the stunning realization that God surrounds us with his goodness and presence.
Includes excerpts from: Leaping the Wall: Practical Ways to Empower Faith During Difficult Times by Julie Kloster