It’s all around us at every moment, yet we never see it. It runs through us, in every thought, every gesture, every strand of DNA. It is present in every great world event, in every circumstantial triviality, in ever beat of every heart.
It is the presence of God. The involvement of the Almighty in the world he created. Biblically speaking, the question “Where can God be found?” is nonsense. The question “Where can God NOT be found?” gets us closer to reality, but it’s still invalid. Psalm 139 uses rhetorical questions to drive the point home: “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?”
Every Christian has known this from their first Sunday School lesson, but in my experience, we are almost completely blind to the presence of God in our world.
God is present in our church services, in our Bible reading, and in our small groups. He rejoins us when we do an act of service or say a prayer. We may sometimes see him in our family life. But other than that, we’re blind. We have relegated God to religious moments, to Christian activities, to spiritual books.
But God is not so bound; we need to learn to open our eyes. You have never engaged in a secular task. You have never left a sacred space. You have never walked out of God’s presence. You have never attempted a feat too big for God’s power, nor have you slumped into an activity too trivial for his active concern. Everything you do matters to God. Everything you see and think and apathetically pass by involves the Creator of all.
Our lives would change dramatically if we could only see the God who is there at every moment. I often use this quote from Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov because I find it so helpful:
“Love all of God’s creation, both the whole of it and every grain of sand. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love animals, love plants, love each thing. If you love each thing, you will begin tirelessly to perceive more and more of it every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an entire, universal love.”
We’re not to “love the universe” in a hippy, “we’re all one with the Cosmic One, man,” kind of way. But if we actually looked at what was around us—using the senses God gave us—we would see that this world is full of wonder. Every bit of it. And if we began to notice the wonder pressing in on us at every moment, we would be overcome by the kind of place we inhabit. By the kind of people we are. By the miracles that surround us at every moment. And when we become overwhelmed by the reality we take for granted, we can begin to ask David’s question with the same rhetorical conviction: “Indeed, where CAN I flee from your presence?”
Step outside and you’re in the presence of trees that steal sunshine, inhale carbon dioxide, and miraculously produce green living matter even as they exhale precious oxygen for us to breathe. Step outside and there’s always the possibility that you’ll be hit with water that God pulls up out of rivers and oceans, flies through the air for miles, and then deposits onto dry ground—thereby watering his enormous garden.
Sit in your car and be propelled at unbelievable speeds by the fire burning at many hundreds of degrees Fahrenheit just a few feet in front of you. Enjoy the cool air that God’s image bearers have learned to create by harnessing the power of explosions in your engine.
Check your smart phone and consider the “air waves” that miraculously and invisibly transport whatever your phone is doing through space. Be amazed that God made a world in which such things are possible and created image bearers who could learn to create devices to send, receive, process, and share this kind of invisible information in nanoseconds.
Go to your office and marvel that God uses industries to provide for his world—distributing food, enriching lives, shaping social interactions, providing safety, spreading information, and the millions of other activities that we call “work” and that God uses to care for the people he created.
You will never spend a second of your life outside of God’s presence. You will never engage in any activity that is not in some way related to what God is doing in this world.
It’s there. He’s there. All around you. In everything. Working. Shaping. Calling. Grieving. Redeeming.
And you’re there. In the world. In your very specific setting. As God’s image bearer. As his ambassador. Extending God’s care to the people around you, whether that be through technology or agriculture or customer service or industrial production. Your work ties in to God’s. Your “secular” activities are anything but. Your “boring” moments are anything but. Your “insignificance” is anything but.
Open your eyes. See the world. See God. And live the prayer: “Your kingdom come; your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”