You know those calm, self-amused toddlers you encounter in the grocery store who sit contentedly in their shopping carts while their moms shop—endlessly amused with their surroundings or the stray cheerios they found clinging to their sleeve? The ones with whom you exchange smiles and whose moms you secretly award "good parenting" medals.
This was not my reality. Ever. From the moment he learned to walk my son wanted OUT! Shopping trips became wrestling matches with me trying to keep the prisoner—I mean, son—contained in the stroller or shopping cart for as long as possible. "Here! Play with this," I'd say as I frantically snatched items from the store shelves, trying to keep him entertained.
We'd make it through the produce section okay because there were snacks. But by aisle three my son would be squirming out of the seat restraint, trying to stand up. I tried to remain calm and in control but the beads of perspiration gathering on my brow gave me away. Halfway through the store we'd be engaged in a battle of wills as he tried to climb out of the cart and I tried to keep him in there. Shrieking was involved. And the dairy section at the end of the store taunted, "You'll never make it this far!"
I'm quite certain no one ever bestowed any parenting awards upon me!
Needing to finish the shopping, but wanting to end the torture as soon as possible, I'd eventually relent and let him out.
"Stay right here and hold onto the cart." I'd instruct.
Inevitably, as I compared prices of canned peaches or spaghetti sauce or toilet paper, he'd fasten his attention elsewhere. When I turned back to the cart, he'd be gone. Out of sight.
A search would ensue and I'd usually find him an aisle or two away, where he'd be frantic at the realization he was alone. Or I'd hear his voice crying "Moooom! Where are you?" His desired freedom didn't seem so freeing after all.
Despite the scare of "losing" me, he made this mistake many times.
When it comes to my relationship with my heavenly Father, I'm a lot like my son. I don't want to obey or submit to His will. I want my freedom and independence. I want to follow my own desires. So I put on my running shoes and set out my own. Yet time and again I find myself lost and alone—and anything but free.
"God, I can't see you? Where are you?" I cry out.
This summer I found myself far from God. But instead of wandering around aimlessly, I decided to get intentional about finding Him—and keeping Him in my sights. For the month of August I spent thirty-ish days looking for evidence of God in my everyday. I recorded those observations here and here.
Last week marked the end of my Thirty-ish Days with God. While I haven’t been faithful about recording my thoughts on a daily basis, I have been deliberate about looking for God “in the moment.”
What’s surprised me is that this practice works. By intentionally looking for the Almighty—not in powerful displays but in small ones—I’ve experienced His presence frequently.
Here’s where I witnessed God most dramatically:
- In nature. Whether savoring the spectacular views of bucolic New Jersey (yes, New Jersey!) atop of Sunrise Mountain during an all-day hike. Watching the purpose-filled fluttering of butterflies on a butterfly bush. Observing the subtle signs of impending Fall. Marveling at a dazzling sunset. Evidence of our Creator’s handiwork is EVERYWHERE!
- In my faith-filled friends and family. We are definitely better together! God continually worked through the spirit-filled friends He’s placed in my life. Through them He offered encouragement and laughter, gave wise counsel and showed me love. What a gift you are!
- In my husband. I have long appreciated my marriage, but in the last several years the Spirit has done a work in both our lives. I have a renewed sense of how blessed I am that my husband is a safe haven, that our relationship is anchored by our mutual love for Jesus and that despite the bumps in the road, we are truly walking together.
- In time alone with God. Through walks, Bible reading, listening to music and time spent being still. Intimate, one-on-one time with my heavenly Father has helped me to know Him better—to gain insight, straighten out my thinking and better hear His voice.
I've re-discovered Jesus to be faithful, patient and oh, so very present in the details of my life. I'm not as lost as I thought and He's not nearly so far away!
However, unlike my son who will increase his independence as he matures, I need to maintain a childlike reliance on keeping near my heavenly Father. Not just for thirty days, but for a lifetime. And He promises that if we seek Him with all our heart, we will find Him. (Jeremiah 29:13)
“God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:27-28)
Are you looking God? Where have you found Him lately?