Looking for God in All the Right Places
by Karen Wingate
From beginning to end, God’s promise to be with His people weaves its way throughout the Bible. God assured Joshua, the commander-in-chief of the Israelite army and successor of the great Israelite leader, Moses, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5). Isaiah repeats God’s promise, “I am with you” several times in his Old Testament book of prophecy. Jesus’ final words to his disciples were, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). In fact, one of the names ascribed to Jesus was Emmanuel, which translates as, “God with us.”
What a beautiful picture of God. He is not a distant divine being who set the world in motion, plunked people in the middle of it, and then turned his back, only to shake a fist of judgment whenever his people went astray. No, the Bible paints an image of a God of involvement. One who wants to interact with His people. A God who longs to give them what only He can give: protection, provision, sustaining strength, and instruction in how to live lives of faith and righteousness.
When the Lord asked certain Bible characters to do hard things, He didn’t expect them to go it alone. He promised He would always be there to help them do what He called them to accomplish. And when He calls you to live a life that reflects who He is, He considers it a partnership—you working together with Him—to make your life shine brightly for His glory.
You might think, That’s fine for those great men and women of faith. But what about ordinary me? I can’t see God. And I feel so alone. How do I know God is with me?
God is with you, even if you can’t see Him. There are many things in life we cannot see but we know they exist. The unseen wind sweeps a path of autumn foliage across our yards. It stretches the flag into a rippling emblem against the blue sky. It leaves a wake of destruction after a tornado or hurricane. Oh yes, no doubt. The wind has been there. Open your eyes and see what it has done.
The same is true of God. If you want to be certain of His presence with you, you need to deliberately look for His character imprinted on creation and on the lives of His people. Looking for where God is takes intentionality.
After 55 years of legal blindness, I underwent a surgery for a torn retina. In the middle of the surgery, the surgeon discovered unfinished work from botched and unfinished childhood surgeries, and made the decision to fix those issues. Near the end of that surgery done under local anesthesia, he said beautiful, life-changing words: “I think I can guarantee you will see better than ever before.”
The surgeon was right. After a month of healing, my eyes revealed what I could now see: brighter colors, details in ordinary things like dirt, and distinct numbers on a bathroom scale. But I reached a point where I had a decision to make. I could ease back into the routines of life, looking at everything like I always had. Or I could hit the pause button on my daily schedule and go on a hunt to discover what I could now see more clearly. I chose to learn what my new sight could tell me about my world. Through my quest, I discovered snow geese in mid-air, robins pecking at the grass, a different sunset every evening, and a star-studded sky that convinced me God really had promised thousands of descendants to Abraham.
It’s the same with our hunt for God. If we want to see the unseen, we have to take the role of a forensic scientist, dusting the world for God’s fingerprints and recording what we discover.
Where do you begin?
Look at creation. Take the time to study a sunset, the Milky Way, the intricate details of a rose, the bee that flies around it, or even the clod of dirt beneath the rose bush. Consider all the design features needed to make that part of creation. Ask yourself what that information tells you about the character of God.
When you think about the infinite detail needed to create and sustain life, there can be no doubt that a divine intelligence is behind the universe’s design. Creation reveals that God’s presence is all around us. He made it and He is maintaining it. As Jesus told His followers, God is aware of the demise of even one sparrow, and we are more important to God than many sparrows (Matthew 10:31). Creation shouts of God’s caring involvement in our lives.
Look at the past. What has God previously done for you? It’s a fair question. It’s something David and the Old Testament prophets reminded the Israelite people of many times. Remember how God got you away from Egyptian slavery? Remember how He led you on dry ground through the Red Sea? The point? If God did it before, He can do it again.
The same is true for you. If God has shown up in your past, He hasn’t changed in His attitude toward you. He is still with you, and He will continue to be with you throughout your future.
Ask. If you are having difficulty seeing where God is working in your life or in the world, ask Him. Ask, seek, knock, Jesus told His disciples in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:7). James told his readers that if they recognized they lacked wisdom, they should ask for it and God would generously give it to them (James 1:5-6).
Simply ask, “Lord, show me what You are doing.” When you ask the Lord to show you life moments from His vantage point, you will find His dusted fingerprints that reveal how He is caring for you, protecting you, and providing for you in ways only He can do.
Take a step. Move toward what you cannot yet see. Many times, I’m like Jesus’ follower, Thomas. I want to see God and what He’s doing before I sign on the line of obedience. But faith doesn’t work that way. Like the counter-intuitive action of turning a car into a slide on an icy road instead of against it, faith calls us to step out in obedience first, even if we cannot see God or understand why He calls us to faith-based righteousness.
I’ve discovered it’s a three-pronged process: first, I pray for God’s guidance. Then, once I understand my next step, no matter how small it is, I choose to follow through and do it. Finally, after I do the right thing, I then see God working and providing for me, opening wide the stage curtain to show off His wonderful plans for me.
When all else fails, trust that God is there. You may not feel He is there. You may feel alone and abandoned. But feelings are a deceptive copy of reality. Even if God chooses to not reveal His spectacular plans and how He is working everything for your good in this life, the truth never changes: He is with you. He has promised He will be with you, and He does not break His promises.
Take Him at His word. He is caring for you. He is giving you the strength you need and guiding you through life paths that may feel uncomfortable and unfamiliar. Best of all, He’s planning exciting things for your life beyond anything you can begin to imagine. He is doing far more for you than you can ever begin to see or know.
He really is with you. He will never leave you stranded. Ever.
Karen Wingate has served as a Bible study leader, women’s ministry director, writer, speaker, and mom. She is author of With Fresh Eyes: 60 Insights into the Miraculously Ordinary from a Woman Born Blind and can be reached at her website at www.karenwingate.com.
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