What if I don’t see God because I wouldn’t know how to recognize him if I did?
Visitations in the Humdrum
We play “Where is Waldo” sometimes. Waldo hides in his red and white striped cap and shirt on book pages crowded with other noisy characters, busy scenes, and distracting colors. The goal is to locate Waldo amid all of the activity. What you know when you open the page is that Waldo is already there. Often by the time you locate him he is sitting in a car seat or standing on a street corner. He’s right in front of us the whole time. We just don’t see him. Our eyes have to adjust. We have to learn to locate his identifying marks.
I think that maybe God gave us the book of Ruth for the “in-between.” In between mighty deeds of epic reformation in the times of the judges, it teaches us that when God visits, when he draws near to bring aid to our need, he often does so in a quiet and earthy way. His mighty visits are humdrum.
For she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited his people and given them food. (Ruth 1:6)
I Spy with My Little Eyes
I long for a visit from God. But my eyes have been trained in such a way that I am prone to overlook His comings and goings. When I play “I Spy” with my kids and we say, “I Spy with my little eye something green,” my eyes have something to work with. I know to search the living room for something not red or blue or black and that resides within the sightlines of toddler eyes. But for some reason, when it comes to seeing God, I assume that God is too important to put himself within view of what little eyes can see. God is for Big Eyed preachers and Large Orbed people. So, I am prone to do my theology as one who overlooks humdrum and everyday smallness.
I camp out with my telescope, ignore the ground, stare up into space, and wait for a once-in-a-generation-star-moment from God. The waiting is hard though.
Don’t get me wrong. Miracle moments and epic visitations from God are worth waiting and praying for. When they come we marvel with sweet joy. Tastes of His kingdom vindicate, satisfy and rekindle our sense that His promises fulfilled are not far off. But, what about mighty visits from God that are small?
If I’m standing there looking out into space for a masterful display I wouldn’t even notice that God had come and gone.
The evidence that God has visited his people is that they have bread on their tables for food. It makes me think that when I try to pray what Jesus said, “Give us this day our daily bread,” I don’t really know what I’m saying. For Jesus, a mighty act of God would mean that I have food to give my children tonight. And grief-stricken Naomi, she has lost her husband and her two sons, she is bitter with God’s absence and grief’s presence. But she has a true friend in Ruth. How rare. She also has a community that welcomes her, misses her and bears with her in her grief. How unusual.
For Ruth and Naomi and the other farmers and widows, God visited them. He was right in front of them. But God’s grand visit was to provide bread, the authentic friendship of a marginalized young woman and a community of genuine care on the outskirts and unnoticeable for newsworthy headlines. Among the food and the friendship, there was also a farm with fields. There, the story tells us, a redeemer waited.
And all the while I imagine myself looking up into space waiting for God’s sky-dazzling visit missing the whole show!
Look at the cupboards, the faces and the place in which you live today. What do you spy with your little eyes?