When we look, what do we see?

God is everywhere, but I believe when it comes to God we are mostly blind.  Mostly we are blind because we do not “look”.  We simply do not “see” God in everydayness because we expect Him to be in something-larger-than-life, religious activity or in the beautiful.  Can we also “see” Him in the mundane, the muck and the limitation of our lives?  Yes we can. 

This is from Mike Yaconelli out of “Dangerous wonder.”

I had expected to meet God in the lives of those who were “whole.” Instead, God was hiding in the lives of the “broken,” the mentally and physically challenged—especially in a girl I’ll call Deborah. Her twenty-five-year-old body is ravaged by cerebral palsy and is as cooperative as a limp rag doll. She had to be held by someone at all times. Unable to speak, unable to respond, I wondered (I am embarrassed to admit now) why Henri had included her in our daily Bible studies.
I found out very soon. Two days after we arrived, Deborah was to celebrate her first Communion. It was a festive occasion and we were invited. We arrived at one of the L’Arche homes that was filled with sixty mentally and physically challenged members of the community, two dozen workers, and our study group. I had come with the expectation that this could be a great experience in the presence of God. Deborah was in a fully restrained wheelchair, her face radiant, her hair beautifully done, her dress stunning. The room was crowded and noisy and, as the Eucharist began, my heart sunk in disappointment.
The noise was chaotic and distracting. Those with Down’s syndrome were humming loudly, continually, rocking back and forth to a rhythm only they could hear. One girl would suddenly let loose with an ear-piercing shriek every few seconds, and the service had to be stopped temporarily because one member of the community had an epileptic seizure. I was completely distracted, disappointed at the chaos and confusion that had ruined my experience with God. As Father Nouwen presented the body and blood of Christ to each person in the room, I was secretly pouting, secretly counting the minutes until I could leave.
When Father Nouwen stopped in front of Deborah, her body stopped jerking and moving out of control, her eyes glistened, she opened her mouth to receive the wine and the bread, and there, ever so slightly, I saw her smile! At once the noise in the room was transformed into what I imagined the noise at the nativity would have been like. God was there! His fragrance filled the room. Deborah—the girl who could do nothing, the girl who would never give a talk, the girl who would never dance, the girl who would never write a book or play the piano or sing a song—taught me about the grace of God! For fifty years I had struggled with God’s unconditional love for me; for fifty years I had tried to prove my worthiness to God by busyness; and helpless Deborah might as well have grabbed me by the shoulders and shouted in my face, “God loves you just as you are! Surrender to His love!” I realized God was hiding in Deborah, and I haven’t been the same since.

The thing about this story is that Mike expected God to reveal Himself through Henri Nouwen.  But God did not and Mike nearly missed it.  I miss God regurlarly simply because, in the busy-ness, in the noise,  I forget to look around.  Activity(noise) is sometimes seen as the enemy of God, but even in the hustle and bustle He is to be found.  When we lose our temper, is God with us?  When everything is happening all at once, is God with us?  When life is to much, is God with us?  What do we “see”?

Deborah, the lady in Mike’s story did not have the ability to show God love with her hands.  She could not go to someone, talk with them, show them sympathy, cry with them.  Yet God could be seen in her life when somebody “looked.”  The same with us.  Sometimes life beat the crap out of us and we are broken and hurt and we are unable to help those around us that need help.  We need people in our lives that can “see” God in us.  We need people to see the beauty of God in the broken vessel.  When we look, what do we “see”?

A few years back, Anette and I asked God to show us people through His eyes.  It was terrible.  I cried a lot because all I could see in the person was the beauty and all they could see in themselves was the ugly.  We saw warriors in people with no self-esteem.  Beggers in rich people.  Frightened children in angry men.  What do we “see” when we look? 

What will God show us once we’ve “seen” Him?  I have no idea, but what I do know is that we will never be the same 🙂

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7 thoughts on “When we look, what do we see?

  1. Amen, Amen, Amen!!!!

    I think seeing God in the brokenness is the key to happiness. The thing is just, you cannot do it yourself, you have to ask Him to show you. And once He opened you eyes, life becomes scary, intense and wonderfull. Then you can see the untamed, wild and passionate love that God has for you and everybody else around you.

    O, yes, it totally messes you up. Be prepared to cry a lot. It is such fun 🙂 .

    Love you

  2. More meneer.
    Two books that really encouraged me, well one book actully, but two writers: Brother Lawrence and Frank Laubagh, decide to “Practice the presence of God”. Our basic Christianity today does not allow for being spiritual and even more…mystic. We need to “go there” to learn to see him in all things.

    And not seeing Him, does not equal failure, it just means there is more to see.

    Oh and I agree with your last sentence, we will not be the same, but dot not expect that to be an immediate chage, it might take years, not 2 or 3, closer to 20 or 30. God is very slow 🙂

    Please go read my latest article, would love to hear your opinion. .

  3. Either you see the body of Christ everywhere or you don’t see it. There are finally no divisions. But that is a mystical seeing that connects everything universally.

    God is perfectly hidden in this material world. And for those who have learned how to see, God is perfectly revealed. God shines through all things. You want to kiss trees and honor what is.

    You are even brought to tears sometimes by the least of the brothers and sisters because the divine image shines through so clearly.
    Richard Rohr

  4. Hi,

    I see Him in the sparrows preening their feathers, unrushed and not a care of anything. Why would they take the time to ‘attend themselves’? I see Him in the dove patiently collecting little stick after little stick to build a nest – keeping at it for days. Testing the weight of each stick. I hear how the birds praise Him morning after morning, before they do anything else, like fly somewhere for breakfast. But I must say that I long for the close, scary, exciting, loving encounters – face to face. The wild horse rides in valleys stretching so far to the thunderous blue mountains. The soaring…

  5. Abmo, I had the priviledge of ministering to some university students for some years and I did the same one day. I asked the Lord to let me see the students as He saw them. I saw leaders of countries, mighty preachers, a,d a host of ther giants. The thing that struck me most was I did not see one failure.

    Oh that God would open all our eyes and ears and we would and could never be the same.

  6. Hi Lennart,
    yes, when God opens our senses, we are never the same. I want to take what you saw with the students a little further. We sometimes see the potential of people, but not who they currently ARE. Sometimes the begger is just a begger. The broken is the broken. And in the broken…and in the begger, we can see God. Not the potential of a person, but what IS the person. God’s love sometimes more seen through the begger than the statesmen. God did not come for us to be mighty. He came that we might shed our masks and come AS WE ARE.

    thanks and I hope to see a lot more on your blog.

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