I spent part of Lent leading a class called, “Too Busy Not to Pray.” The course was challenging for some of our people, while others found it opened new ways of praying. I began to realize that one of the problems in our relationship with God, is that we don’t notice what God is doing in our lives. Feeling distant from God, seemingly ignored in prayer, we miss the obvious. The backward glances in life are those which help us see that thread holding everything together. Sometimes, we were hurting so much, we couldn’t begin to notice that God was standing with us. Our eyes, brimming with tears, couldn’t take in our full surroundings.
Later, we noticed that certain people came into our lives about that time. Encouragers, supporters, people who helped us hold our life together, in our most discouraging times. To notice God is to see God in the framework of our everyday life. What was there about that conversation, which shifted our thoughts into a more positive direction? I remember the early intervention program my youngest daughter was in. Leftover issues from her prematurity, set us up for the program. While the purpose was to work on her muscle and speech problems, it was me that was changing the most. These in-home visitors brought not only knowledge in infant physical therapy and occupational therapy to the home, they also came as encouragers.
Sally, Soni, Kay and Jeannie reminded me of my value and worth. They inspired me to look beyond the problems I was facing to the possibilities which were real. Years have come and gone. Along the way, there have been other people who came into my life at crucial times. Later, I came to realize it was God who drew us together. In difficult moments, they were encouragers, sounding boards, people I knew I could trust. In other moments, it was I who was drawn to give encouragement, to reach out in love and support. Noticing God at work in the world and in our lives takes a mind-set that is willing to accept that God is larger than our prayers, and so much wiser in the answering of them.
When Jesus appeared to his first followers after the resurrection, Thomas was missing. The Bible doesn’t tell us where he had gone off to, only that he wasn’t with the rest that resurrection evening, when Jesus appeared. He didn’t see the risen Lord. He was skeptical of the stories he’d heard. He doubted they were true. Even when his closest friends told him of Jesus, he made no secret of his doubts. Like most of us, confronted with a truth that doesn’t fit our worldview, he refused to believe. A week would pass before Thomas encountered Jesus. He no longer needed the proof he had earlier demanded, to see the marks from nails and sword. Being in the presence of the risen Christ, his doubts faded away. He could only say, “My Lord, and My God.” But Jesus had a word, where he blessed those who would believe and not see. We may not be able to see the risen Christ with our eyes, but we can see, by the tracks in our lives, where Christ has been present. It all begins by noticing.