God is always active.
That one statement speaks a truth that I have known intellectually for many years. From a very early age I was taught that God is active and working, even when we don’t see it. I’ve grown up knowing it was true and often praying for God to do some amazing thing, and then I would begin looking for God to act. Sometimes he acted in a way I wanted and I could see my prayer fulfilled. Sometimes he acted in some other way and I was forced to admit that maybe my way was not the best. At other times it seemed as if he was gone all together, no longer acting or moving in any sort of understandable way. And I was left wondering, “I know he is active, but where.” I wonder if maybe I was looking in the wrong place.
John 20 records the unbelievable story of the empty tomb and the resurrection of Jesus. It is a story that all Christians know because it is foundational to faith in Jesus. Jesus is proven to be the Son when he is raised from the dead. Death, the final curse, is defeated and Jesus becomes the first fruits for all of us who will one day rise from the grave. It is an amazing story where God is clearly active, yet for Mary Magdalene who was living out the story it was harder to see. She went to the tomb early on Sunday morning and saw the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. She is saddened and confused wondering what has happened to Jesus. She stays at the tomb, partially in grief but partially to find some other clue when Jesus actually comes up behind her to talk to her. However, because of her grief and confusion she fails to recognize him. Here is her Lord, the one she is desperately trying to find yet she fails to recognize him because she is looking in the wrong place.
It reminds me of a similar story found in Matthew 11. John the Baptist is in prison for speaking out against Herod stealing his brother’s wife. John knows he has a slim chance of gaining his freedom and he starts to question what he had given his life to. He had always believed that his cousin Jesus was the coming Messiah and yet Jesus wasn’t acting the way John envisioned he would act. And so, while still in prison, he sends some disciples to ask Jesus, are you really the Messiah or should we expect someone else. Jesus gives an interesting answer, “look around you and what do you see: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.” Jesus challenges them to open their eyes and realize, of course he is the Messiah, it is plain as day if they would just look for the right things.
I believe these stories may be reminding us of a similar truth, God is always working we may just be looking in the wrong direction. In those moments when I fail to see God working at all I must admit that the problem is not with God, the problem is with me. I have decided God must work a certain way and when it doesn’t happen I get upset and question whether he is active. I start to wonder if maybe this whole God thing is a farce. And yet if I could hear the calming voice of Jesus I believe he would say, “open your eyes and see that I am active all around you. Don’t miss me because you are looking somewhere else.”
I don’t mean to discourage anyone. If spiritual heroes like Mary Magdalene and John the Baptist, individuals who walked with Jesus, had moments when they failed to see, it is only natural that we would as well. However, we must not become complacent. Instead we must strive to open our eyes to God’s activity all around us.
And so I leave you with a challenge. Every day for the next 30 days wake up every morning and start your day with one simple prayer, “God, give me eyes to see you active today.” And then go through the day looking for God. And, if you feel inclined, come back to this blog spot and leave responses on how you have seen God active in your life or the lives of others or in the world as an encouragement to others as we all try to grow in this area of our lives.