It’s a regular habit of mine, as both a personal discipline and a group strategy, to ask the question: Where have I (or we) seen God recently?
It forces me to stop and look around.
To pay attention to the details of life that so easily rush by.
It’s an easy thing for us to do really, to miss it, I mean. Life zooms by with a new job offer or the children that grow up way to fast, or the unexpected news over the phone last night.
And we race from one activity to another piling up stresses like miles on the odometer of the mini van.
We need to realize that what we will benefit from most is stopping.
Our life is a story, unfolding one page at a time, and by forcing ourselves to stop and observe, we can meet the author of our story.
From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem. From Perga they went on to Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath they entered the synagogue and sat down. After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have a word of exhortation for the people, please speak.”
Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: “Fellow Israelites and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! The God of the people of Israel chose our ancestors; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt; with mighty power he led them out of that country; for about forty years he endured their conduct in the wilderness; and he overthrew seven nations in Canaan, giving their land to his people as their inheritance. All this took about 450 years.
“After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’
“From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised. Before the coming of Jesus, John preached repentance and baptism to all the people of Israel. As John was completing his work, he said: ‘Who do you suppose I am? I am not the one you are looking for. But there is one coming after me whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’ Acts 13:13-25
Paul, using a similar method and style of preaching as Stephen, begins his preaching by highlight the story of the Jewish people. It’s not because they don’t know the story, it’s because they need to be reminded to see God in it. Much like our own reflective practices, they needed to see more than the story, they needed to see the author. Paul is setting the stage (as we’ll see in the next section of this passage) to show them how the author is not only penning the words, but enfleshing himself into the story.
God will become human. Jesus is taking center stage. The story is taking on a new twist.
But Paul doesn’t start there. He doesn’t rush into it. He starts by reminding his audience (and us as the readers) of the way God has been orchestrating everything since the foundations of the world.
He is, in effect, asking his audience the question, “Where have you seen God working?” He wants them to see how the story is taking shape.
And soon, Paul will offer his perception of the situation, his answer to where he has experienced and seen God working.
Paul wants us to not just know the story; but live it, experience it, relish in it, and find God in it.
Reflecting on a passage like this, it’s easy to see the importance with which we need to know and understand our story.
Where have I seen God recently?
[/pullquote]There’s a quote from the television show The Simpsons in which the family is gathered around the dinner table and Bart offers the family prayer by saying, “Dear god we paid for this food so thanks for nothing.”
God is moving.
His Spirit is acting.
He is up to something.
Jesus’ emergence on the pages of history is no accident and it changes everything.
But we must never forget to look.
So, where have you seen God working lately?