Finding God in Common Things

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It is not new. People have always desired, and sometimes demanded signs; big, flashy, uncontestable signs to prove God’s existence to them, beyond a reasonable doubt. Even believers are often caught up in the need for miracles, healings, or signs from heaven to keep their faith alive. We see this kind of behavior in the Pharisees and Sadducees in Matthew’s Gospel. ʺThe Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.ʺ (Mt. 16:1) Jesus challenges them with the fact that they can look at the sky and tell whether the day is going to be fair or foul, but they cannot read the signs of the times. He says, ʺA wicked and adulterous generation looks for signs, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.ʺ (Mt. 16:4)

But there is no need for such things when one really knows and loves God and sees God’s grace and action in all things, even the smallest and seemingly most insignificant of things. A Christian who has fallen into the loving arms of Jesus, who recognizes the Father’s presence in all of creation, and has opened his or her heart to the workings of the Holy Spirit in their lives, needs no extravagant miracles, for he or she has begun to see God and his work in the whole of His creation, even in the most common things. He or she is often stunned by the face of Jesus in all the people he or she meets, especially in the faces of the poor, the forgotten, and the outcast.

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In chapter 6 of Matthew’s Gospel we hear Jesus teaching the people in this way: ʺAnd why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?ʺ (Mt. 6:28-30)

Look around you. Look at glowing sky of a spectacular sunrise, or sunset, or the star-studded sky at night. Look at the birds that frequent your surroundings, gleaning their sustenance from the abundance of nature, hear their cheerful songs, and remember that God holds and sustains all of existence, everything seen and unseen, in His mind, with infinite love and tenderness. If he turned his attention away from anything in creation, even for an instant, it would no longer be. If God will not let a sparrow fall from the sky, how much more will he lift you up and treasure you, because of his infinite love for you—for YOU? And God does not keep all of creation in his mind in general terms, but with utter specificity for all that is, most especially so for each and every single human soul. We are his, and he will not forget us.

Let us, then, practice attentiveness every day. We are not perfect, so we will not be able to do it all the time, but whenever we sense God whispering in our hearts, ʺHere I am.ʺ Or ʺThere I am,ʺ let us ʺseeʺ him and pray a simple prayer of thanksgiving. In doing this we will begin to honor all of creation and all of our fellow human beings, even the most insignificant among us, in the same way that God does. Let it be so, Lord!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.