I have a friend who is always seeking “God signs” in answer to her prayer requests. Many days, though, she sighs that nothing appeared. “Perhaps tomorrow?” she asks hopefully.
God signs, God moments, or God glimpses: whatever you want to call them, they are always present. But we can’t go looking for them. For when we search, our vision is clouded with our limited expectations of God. We look for what we think is of God.
If the Christmas narrative has taught us anything, it is that God gives us signs we least expect to see. A woman, not any woman, but a virgin, will bear a son, whose name will be Immanuel — not exactly how many thought their savior would come into the world. But that is how God works. How many have missed the sign of Immanuel because they were expecting something different?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many have been looking for signs that God is still in control of an out-of-control world. I will admit I was among the sign seekers, and when I didn’t see anything but growing despair, I found myself getting anxious. That’s when I took my own advice. I stopped searching and, when I did, I began seeing God in the children’s drawings of rainbows taped to windows to brighten a weary world.
In New York City, where hospitals were overwhelmed with the virus, apartment dwellers opened windows and climbed onto fire escapes at an appointed time to clang pots, ring bells and cheer the medical workers who courageously walked straight into the valley of death. And when social distancing brought the advent of circles or X’s onto the floors of public buildings to keep people safely away from one another, one educational institution turned an isolating act into a message of love by turning those circles and X’s into hearts.
Are you seeking a God sign this Advent? Stop looking with your eyes and simply be open and receptive with your heart. For as Howard Thurman once observed: We are visited in ways that are beyond our understanding! No truer words have ever been spoken.
Ever-present God, open the eyes of my heart so that I may see your extraordinary love and grace in the ordinariness of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Challenge yourself to see with your heart — not with your eyes. At the end of the day, take time for quiet prayer and reflection; then write down the God moments you experienced.