Recognising God can be a tricky business (not helped by God’s tendency to show up in the most surprising people and places). But in the Christian life, the recognition of God is a vital skill to cultivate, and one which comes only with practice.
My own life has been marked by moments of recognising God only with the benefit of hindsight, and I’m guessing I’m not the only one: “Ah, I see now, that was God all along!” I have a wise friend who helped me very much in the long journey of learning to recognise God in the moment. Something would occur, I would tell her about it, and she would remark quite casually “That’ll be the Holy Spirit, that will.” And almost always I could immediately see that she was right – what I had described was indeed the Holy Spirit, but I needed someone to point it out to me.
This work of not only recognising but also pointing out where God is and what God might be doing is a vital one. I wrote earlier this week about a Special School I work with. This is one of the places where I most clearly recognise God, and I have gradually come to realise that pointing out what I see of God in that place is part of how I can invite the staff and students to encounter God themselves. I don’t somehow bring God in with me, nor do I (nor could I) somehow make God more present, I merely point out where God already is. I may even have been known to use the phrase “That’ll be the Holy Spirit, that will” myself.
“May the Lord when he comes find us watching and waiting” we pray during Advent. The watching is at least as important as the waiting – watching for God, recognising God, pointing out what we have seen and known and experienced of God.
This year for Advent Book Club we are reading “Unearthly Beauty” by Magdalen Smith. Join in on Facebook or Twitter using #AdventBookClub.