Several years ago I was working my way through one of Beth Moore’s bible studies. I don’t remember which one, probably The Patriarchs. During one of the video sessions she talked about asking a previous audience what God was currently doing in their life, only to be met by blank stares.
I stared blankly at the screen, unable to think of one thing that I knew God was currently doing in my life. Nothing. Not even something recent. Or not-so-recent.
The thing is, I can look back now and know multiple things that God was working in my life during that time and previous to then. He wasn’t missing. My awareness of Him was missing.
And that hurt to realize. I never wanted to have that deer-in-the-headlights/brain freeze moment again. So, I began making some changes in my spiritual life.
First, I prayed that God would make me aware of what He was doing in my life and His answers to my prayers. I know that can sound trite, but praying for awareness is a big deal for me. I can be very intuitive about many things, but when it comes to God’s presence and action, I can be a bit clueless on my own. But God isn’t working in my life just so I can miss it. I think He is thrilled when we ask Him for help in seeing.
Second, I actively find time to cut distractions and intentionally reflect and ponder. This doesn’t have to be scheduled time. Often I use the time I am lying in bed but not yet asleep, or first thing in the morning when I have my cup of coffee and the kids are not yet awake.
I start replaying recent events and let my mind wander from memory to memory, paying attention to when I instinctively smile at a reflection, and when I cringe. Often the memories that make me cringe are things that God is wanting to work through with me. And often the smiles are examples of where God has either provided a blessing in my life or helped me to improve in some area that I didn’t necessarily realize.
Third, I journal with a notebook and pencil. Not often. Maybe a couple times a year. I’ll sit somewhere quiet, preferably outside, and write a dialogue with myself, almost an interview. This always starts out feeling
a bit super cheesy with me writing things like, So Sarah, how are you feeling lately? And I’ll think, what a stupid question to ask myself. But I’ll write an answer anyway.
Well, I’m frustrated that I can’t seem to spend enough quality time with the kids. I’m with them 24/7, but it’s just busy time. Yeah, that’s frustrating. But why are you so busy? Well, because. There’s lots to do. *listing out all the things I have to do* Do you have to do all those things? Who is placing that expectation on you?
I continue writing, tracking deeper and deeper into my feelings and motivations. And as I do so, the questions and answers swerve all over the place in ways I can’t explain other than to say it’s an outpouring of my heart intermingling with the Spirit who dwells in me. I don’t always find the answers I’m looking for, but I do always walk away from this exercise feeling refreshed and validated.
Finally, when I know that God has done something important in my life, I try to find a physical marker of that moment. Like the twelve stones that the Israelites placed as a reminder after crossing the Jordan (Joshua 4). These markers are usually small and would be seen as insignificant to others, but when I see them, I have connected them in my mind to that moment, causing me to remember how God shaped/changed me.
How do you look for God? Do you have specific practices to help you see/remember?