We Christians are fond of saying, God really showed up. We love to share our God sightings.
My personal sightings include the time I was walking to a podium, my heart pounding thunderously, and suddenly I lay eyes on my college speech professor sitting impossibly right in front of me. I had not seen Dr. Griffin in over 30 years.
Or the time I was writing a to-do list, eyes tearing up, missing my mom who had passed away the week prior. I notice that the pen in my hand was my mother’s. A lipstick shaped pen. She and I had shared a love for lipstick.
Or the time when I entered a walk-in clinic to get a prescription, deeply sad over the passing of a dear friend. The doctor introduces herself with the first name of my friend. And in the same moment I catch sight of a plaque on the side of the examination table bearing the name of its manufacturer… yes, the precise last name of my friend.
My mom often shared the story of a time when her fervor for Jesus had waned, and she was consumed with doubt. She was at a Billy Graham crusade, the very place where she had accepted Christ weeks earlier. She uttered a wager with God (not recommended) saying, God, if you are real, then I need to see that woman with the straw hat who counseled me that night at Billy’s first crusade. This was a bold wager, as mom was seated in the upper tier of a packed Madison Square Garden. Yet when she turned, guess who was there? Straw hat and all.
My father once asked for a sign from God. He was a commercial pilot for whom the sky bore evidence of a creator. He looked up and there was a cloud formation in the shape of a perfect cross. As soon as he noticed it, the borders blurred and the cloud returned to fluffy obscurity.
Such stories bolster my faith and I love hearing them. However, I wonder about that phrase, God showing up. The whole Bible is a testament to God as constant; He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end, eternal and ever present. Whether we are folding laundry, managing a Zoom conference, cooking, worrying, God isn’t showing up. He is just THERE. And our job according to Psalm 121 is to “Lift our eyes to the hills. Our help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”
Yesterday morning I was in the front yard with Codie, our overly friendly, unleashed, golden retriever when I caught sight of a neighbor across the street picking up her newspaper from the front porch. Codie also noticed her and her tail started to wag. Clearly, she was contemplating how this neighbor would (obviously) love a full face licking – which would entail bolting across the street.
“Watch me!” I yelled. This is the first command a puppy learns. She cannot learn to sit or heel without watching the face of her trainer. Codie turned her head and met my eyes. This neighbor would have to live without a wet doggie greeting. (Her loss!)
When we ask God for a sign, He might respond with the command, Watch me! For His signs and wonders are THERE. They reside in the smile of a passerby, in the purple and yellow spring blossoms, in the beauty of a world class athlete, in the giggle of a baby, and yes, in dog kisses.
God doesn’t just “show up” in hospital waiting rooms when you’re staring at the door for a surgeon to grant an update, or in an examination room when you’re sitting sweatily and with embarrassing vulnerability, alone, listening for the doctor’s knock, feeling your blood pressure rising. He is already THERE, waiting for your eyes to turn toward Him.
Even in a pandemic, God is saying, maybe yelling, Watch me! Don’t dwell on grim statistics. WATCH ME!
Oh the signs you will see!