For the past year, we have been sharing stories about encountering God in our lives at Epiphany. This has been a real joy. I hope the stories we have heard, like this, this, and this one, have been encouraging to you. They have encouraged me.
At the same time, many of us would like to see God in our lives, but aren't right now. We might even wonder if we are doing something wrong, or if God is just not that interested in us.
This is a painful place to be, particularly when others are seeing God. I know, I have spent time there. Most Christians do sooner or later. "Now we see in a mirror dimly," as Paul said last week in our Sunday reading from 1st Corinthians.
So, how do we move forward when we are more aware of God's absence than His presence? Well, for what it is worth, this is what I do. First, while I continue to look for God in my life, I don't actually try to make myself encounter God. That is, I don't try to force Him to show up. God sets His schedule, I don't. I also don't think it's useful to feel guilty about how we feel. We are where we are. I am where I am. Next, I keep doing the things that have connected me with God and have connected others with God in the past. I continue to read my Bible. I go to church. I pray. I also call to mind moments where I have encountered God before. Just because that is not where I am at now, doesn't make those times any less valid.
Finally, and this is important, I ask myself what assumptions I am going to live under. Am I going to live like God is real and God loves me? Or am I going to live like that isn't true? For me, this is an easy choice. Whatever I feel, or don't feel today, I am going to live like God is real and God loves me.
None of this makes God do anything, much less show up in my life in ways I can see and feel. That is still something for God to do on His time (it always is). But again and again, following this way has kept me on the path of discipleship even when my vision of God gets dim for a bit.
Sooner or later, He shines in my life again.