I wonder, how many times do we walk right past the glory of God and don’t see it? How often do we pass by God’s promises and don’t notice? How often do we ask, “where is God” and fail to see God breaking through before our very eyes? Instead, we fill our days with busyness and business. We scurry and hurry to try to prove ourselves worthy and valuable. We try to convince ourselves and others that this craziness is all worth it. Instead, we worry about what the neighbors think, how much money we have in the bank or if we are ready for whatever waits around the corner. We doubt. We question. We can be petty, picky, and presumptuous. We put our security in things and strive for whatever is bigger and better, the newest and fastest. We become consumed by what we consume emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. We pretend we aren’t afraid but if we’re brave enough, to be honest, we are. Afraid of loss, failure, and judgment. Afraid of what we don’t know, of not having control, and of what may or may not happen.
Luke 12:22032 is often used to tell people, “do not worry,” “do not be anxious,” and “do not put your faith in anything else but God and God alone.” I suggest we listen again to the words of Jesus and perhaps hear how God’s presence, provision, peace, protection, mercy and love are closer than we sometimes know. In this section of scripture, Jesus speaks to us through his words to his early followers. They brought their frustrations and disagreements about money and wealth to him; wanting to know who was right and who was wrong? What was the right way to handle money, save it, spend it, invest it, and how much was enough, too much, or too little?
They expressed their worry, fear, and anxiety about the current state of affairs, who was the ultimate authority, what were they to do, how were they to respond, when would everything be back to normal, what was normal in this Kingdom of God’s? What did God want them to do? How would they know if they got it right? What did it mean to let go of everything and follow him? They clung to their material possessions, not knowing what else to hold on to. They were not asking how or where they might see God, but that was the question Jesus answered because that was the truth that would release them from their worry, doubt, or fear. They had to learn to see God in plain sight to understand God’s presence and purpose.
In Jesus’ day, people lived in a shame and honor system. The more stuff you had; land, livestock, possessions, status, education, and wealth, the more honor you were given. And for those with less or nothing, the more shame you had to deal with. It is easy to see then how the accumulation and significance of stuff; material things became entrenched in the minds of people. If you had stuff, you must have money or other stuff to trade, and therefore you must have wealth, status, and security. It was the only way you could guarantee your livelihood and take control of your future. If you live long enough with that kind of understanding and value system, you come to believe that is where your worth, security, and identity is found and before long you are living and seeking the kingdom of self rather than the kingdom of God. It’s no wonder we don’t see God unless something major happens, or we don’t feel God at work unless something big takes place.
We set ourselves up for failure and frustration when we live with that kind of mindset or understanding. It is more difficult to see God's breakthroughs if we have filled all the internal spaces of our lives with worry, doubt, fear, anxiousness, skepticism, regret, and blame, and all the external spaces with material things.
Jesus never ordered anyone to live in such a way. He did not pull his followers aside and say, “umm, so here’s the deal: God sent me to fulfill the law, redeem the world, and restore the kingdom, buuut just between you and me, you might want to take all you can while you can, make sure to get more than you need, don’t let go of control, and put your faith in only what you can see.” What Jesus did say, however, was “Do what is good, beautiful, and true. Be the best you can with what you have and what you know. Do the best you can with what you have and what you know, and leave the rest to God. If you have more, great. Seek God, live to make God’s kingdom a reality on earth, love others, and let God do the rest. If you have less, great. Seek God, live to make God’s kingdom a reality on earth, love others, and let God do the rest. God is with you all the way.”
When I was on the coast of CA and then in Australia, I saw some amazing flowers. I guess because they were different they stood out more but they were only doing what they do best and God did the rest. The colors and shapes were stunning. The texture and detail were incredible. The patterns and lines were captivating. When I think of those flowers I realize the truth of Jesus’ words, “Consider the wildflowers…how much more does God love us.” In plain sight, God reminded me that God is a God of past, present, and future and all is well and all will be well. The same was true about some of the birds I saw. The colors. Shapes. Detail. Pattern and lines. Even the Cassowary; a prehistoric looking and aggressive creature, but beautiful nonetheless. Again scripture tells us, “look at the birds of the air…yet how much more God cares about us.” In plain sight, God reminded me that it is God who holds the future and all will be well.
When I came back I saw God breakthrough in other places too. Places not so far away but in the actions, words, and faces of those around me, around us. I was reminded that God breaks through when we, like the flowers and birds, do what we were meant to do and let God do the rest. When we engage in things like:
God in plain sight.
There are many examples of God breaking through in plain sight if we look. God’s breakthroughs are not always big and bold. Loud and in your face. But they are miraculous. They are life-changing. They are transformative. They do reveal the very presence of God with us. May we have the courage and desire to pay attention.
Pastor Jenothy Irvine