Two weeks ago, I sat down with an old friend whom I love dearly that we’ll call “Nathan.” Nathan and I had grown up together and had gone to church together for the first 18 years of our lives. When meeting with Nathan, we had talked about all varieties of things from sports, to video games, to family, to catching up on other mutual friends. When the discussion turned to faith and church life; however, Nathan informed me that he was no longer accepting Jesus as his savior. He told me he came to this conclusion because after I had left for college, he did not have the support he once had. Not only that, but he found it increasingly hard to experience God in his life. So much so, that at the beginning of this past year, he turned away from the faith all together. I left the conversation heartbroken and confused. I longed to understand why he made this choice, but I couldn’t come up with anything. After continued conversation, meditation on the subject, and pausing to reflect on a great matter of reasons that this may have happened, I believe I have come to a conclusion.
I have come to an understanding that the idea of seeing God in everyday life is challenging. Perhaps we can begin by simply acknowledging that experiencing God is difficult, given the obstacles often put forth by both “Christian” culture and our own sloth-filled tendencies. What I mean is, we live in an environment where we have all kinds of ways that God is hidden and not portrayed healthily. If we pause to take a look at poorly portrayed “Christian” movies, or politically driven religion, or preachers who preach acceptance and service, but when natural disasters hit, doors to the church stay closed. In recent days, I have found that God is most hidden by our friends who we respect and are thinkers but still choose to put God on a bookshelf in the fiction section next to fairy tales. There are all kinds of ways to hide God, but that’s surely not the end.
In order to overcome this idea of God being “hidden” by our environment, I propose that we must be intentional. We must be intentionally pausing during our days to reflect on how we can see God in the sometimes mundane, everyday routines. If we take time in the most tedious of tasks, it becomes easier to see God in the big things. I still have to pause and try very intentionally to see God, but my efforts are not in vain. I have begun seeing a reflection of God’s beauty in creation when I take walks through the forest preserve on a daily basis. I have come to cherish my phone conversations with my fiancée on the phone at night because I know that we are loved and cared for by the Almighty Creator of the Universe. So if you ask me where I can see God in my daily life, I would tell you that I can see God anywhere that I look, it just takes intentional reflection. As mentioned before, “intentionality” isn’t natural, it takes time, work, and effort. When all three of these things are in use, the Holy Spirit works in us to help see God.
All in all, I say these things not to condemn Nathan for his rationale or decisions, but rather I’m hoping that by being intentional and teaching the community of believers to be intentional, this situation won’t happen elsewhere. By being intentional in how we see God, pausing to see him in the tedious things, and reflecting on where we can see Him; we can more fully care for the spiritual wellbeing of ourselves and our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Brendon De Boer
September 29, 2017