I decided something recently.
I’m going to build a habit of continuously asking, What can I learn about God from this? Especially, this person in front of me or this circumstance I’m in. How did I arrive here, you may ask? My beautiful 19 month old daughter.
In the last few months, as friends asked me how I was doing or how motherhood was going, I first was honest about how grateful and sweet it is. Then, if time allowed I would share that being ‘on’ for Anna all day is oftentimes emotionally taxing for this introverted mama. It might be a phase, or it might be how God wired her, but she wants to be engaging with me almost constantly.
A few weeks ago the Lord graced me with a fresh perspective: what if I was as attentive to Him as Anna is to me?
If I leave the room, she follows. As she plays by herself, she doesn’t go long without finding my eyes over and over. Whatever she is doing, she wants me to see and she wants me near. If she’s flipping through a book, she’d rather do it in my lap. When she falls or tries to stretch her limits, she checks my face for permission or answers. She is highly attentive and desirous of my company.
What if I was more that way with my Father? We know shared joy is often sweeter than joy alone. What if it was only minutes, not hours or days or weeks, before we find His eyes, His truth, again? What if we invited Him into everything we’re doing — household tasks or our jobs or our fun? What if His response to our choices or circumstances was our first priority? What if we oriented our day around staying attentive to Him, resisting temptations to numb or escape or distract, enjoying His presence more than anything?
I’m a big fan of Jan Johnson, and in one of her books, she writes about a time when she was an expert at the “devotional props,” but how they weren’t enough when the rubber met the road of her life with God. She needed more.
“I had complicated the spiritual life with my notebook and checklists and invented my own version of “spiritual correctness.” In truth, I needed only one thing—God. I didn’t need a great quiet time, I needed a God-centered lifetime. I saw that my responsibility as a Christian was to seek God’s company, not to seek spiritual maturity. Enjoying God’s presence offered a quieter, playful pathway to God, void of my quest for righteousness. I dabbled in authentic prayer, “the place where we can be completely ourselves,” where God welcomes faults, gifts, and laughter. I had spent years trying to be too spiritual, too advanced, too wonderful.“
I know ‘feeling’ His presence isn’t the standard, but we wish we could feel it all the time. But faith is taking God at His Word, trusting He is with us, regardless of our feelings or experiences or doubts. His presence is a gift He delights to give and a prayer He loves to answer. He is all around. He is accessible. He always welcomes us. His love changes us. So I’ll keep asking, of everyone and everything in my life: what can I learn about God from this?