How I find God again

Sometimes I can’t find God. He’s not hard to experience, but I’ve been churched so long, theologized so much, seminarred so often, sanitized, saintified, holyfied and Sundayfied so thoroughly that the goal of a pure childlike faith feels like mere rhetoric. Mosquito spit in a dry sky. But every so often I’m reminded how to get it back.

Lacey* (assumed name) was five at the time. I’d stopped by her house to pick something up. While standing in the hall I noticed a striking picture; a black and white sketch of a man in what seemed biblical garb, seated on a rock beside a rushing stream. Overhead, the spreading branches of a leafy tree bent low, in an almost protective gesture.

Do you notice anything unusual about that picture?” Lacey’s mother asked.  

I looked more carefully. Man, stream, rock, tree. “No. What should I look for?  Something hidden?”  

“The face of Jesus is in the tree,” she answered. 

I searched the print until my head ached; studied the artist’s lines, looked for clues in the shading. Got closer. Backed up. Nothing. She offered to show me, but I was determined to find it on my own. I opened my mouth to admit defeat when Lacey, standing behind me, spoke up shyly. “I dan dee it dum down he-ah.  I dink do dould det down.”   (I adored her abundance of D’s.)

I crouched beside her, not because I thought I would be able to see—just to show her I was serious about trying. I’m often hopeless at grasping the abstract; whether in matters of faith or substance. As I looked up at the picture however, what had been invisible while I was standing upright came clearly into focus: the profile of Christ in the leafy overhanging branches, his gaze fixed lovingly on the figure seated below.

“I see it!  I see it!” I nearly shouted in excitement. I may have even bounced a bit.

Lacey pointed her chin at the floor, drew a circle on the hardwood with her bare toe. “I dold do do det down,” she said.

It’s been many years since that day, but I’ve thought of Lacey’s advice often. It echoes Paul’s words to the conflicted, sometimes arrogant Corinthian church. “For God, in his wisdom, saw to it that He would never be found through human brilliance…..”

Each time my rational mind, so full of right answers and correct theology, loses sight of divine simplicity, I know it’s time to ‘det down.’  Low…as low as a child is small…so I can look up and see, fixed on me in love, the gaze of Christ.

It’s how I find God again.

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