Seeing and Knowing God
By: Susan Naslund
“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9
I recently came across a photograph of a model airplane my dad made when he was a boy in 1942. The plane was mailed to the United States Navy as part of a program in which the youth of America were called upon to make scale model airplanes for training purposes during World War II. My dad’s model was one of 500,000 collected to train Navy men in the recognition of different types of our own and enemy planes during wartime. Learning to swiftly and correctly identify the various aircraft took practice. Studying the picture of the model plane made me think about the importance of being able to quickly and accurately recognize and respond to what is right in front of me, too.
I want to see God that way.
Not in a Jesus on a piece of toast kind of way. Rather, I want to sense God’s presence, know God’s peace, and recognize immediately how God wants to use me in a harmonious way with my fellow human beings.
I want to feel God’s peace in my soul.
Clearly, some people have this gift. After all, we often hear people in the news acknowledge the presence of God – following a victorious football game; after surviving a freak tornado while one’s neighbor had perished; or upon someone receiving a judgment others thought they deserved. Just last week, Kim Davis, upon her release from jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples said, “We serve a living God . . . Keep on pressing. Don’t let down because He is here.” If I had been in any of those crowds, I might have asked, “Where do I see God in all of this?”
I want to see God my way.
Not in a God-blesses-some-people-more-than-others kind of way. Rather, I want to see a God who loves and finds value in every person and enables me to see people that way, too.
But first, I need to acknowledge that not all people see God the same way. I need to remember how Rev. Diana Wright often helps her Spiritual Growth Group encounter God by asking, “What was God like for you in that moment?” Still, if we meditate on scripture -- and practice often -- maybe we can begin to see God in a universal way, to learn to quickly and correctly identify God’s presence, and to discern God’s will in all of our lives. As the Message translation says in Philippians 4:9, we need to make it a habit to fill our minds and meditate “on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” May we all practice trying to see God -- as God would like to be seen and recognized – so that we might react in a Godly manner, and feel God’s peace. Amen.