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Two hydrogen atoms holding hands with a single oxygen atom. One water molecule, an infinitesimal speck of life’s foundation floating above me in the atmosphere, along with a trillion others. Each and every one of them created, sustained, and governed on their tiny atmospheric journey across the suburban Pennsylvania sky. That’s what I’m thinking of this morning as I stare up at another dawn canvas, brushed clean with blue in the background, white cirrus clouds sponging the open space. Every water molecule up there is governed by divine speech. The smallest brings out the greatest.

Seeing the Overwhelming Presence of God

This morning, for some reason, I’m overwhelmed by the beauty, immensity, and intricacy of God’s presence. It seems too much. I’m seeing more than the glass of my soul can hold. And so it’s spilling over the edges. I have a lump in my throat right now because my praise and admiration can’t catch up with my perception. I’m a balloon bloated with God-given air. I’m a fire burning too fast with too little fuel. I’m an inadequate dam with providential waters rushing over my face. I don’t have enough metaphors . . . I’m grasping, reaching, both hands pandering for expressions.

Why We Miss God’s Presence

I don’t often feel this way. I’m guessing you don’t either, do you? If anything, we usually feel underwhelmed in the world, anesthetized to the greatness, generosity, and all-encompassing presence of the speaking God. We’re often under the influence of a subtle doleful drug, something that pulls down our enthusiasm for God and this crazy, turning world, leaving us in a seemingly Godless normalcy. Why do we feel this way? Why do we miss God’s presence? Here are the top reasons in my own life.

  • I don’t cultivate an awareness of God by listening to him and speaking back regularly. That’s right, you have to cultivate an awareness of God. It’s there in all of us because we’re all marked with a divine imprint. We’re image bearers of the God who is everywhere before us, always speaking. But that image is a seed that must be nurtured. We have to water it with the words of God. We have to tamp the soil around it with prayer. Otherwise, it won’t grow. We’ll stay underwhelmed.
  • I settle for the falsehood that things just exist. Nothing “just exists.” Nothing. Everything exists as . . . as spoken by God, as sustained by God, as governed by God, as directed by his whim to fit into an intricate narrative tapestry that we’re being woven into. (Did you know that you’re part of a divinely crafted fabric?)
  • I’m too easily satisfied by lesser things. One of the great spiritual ironies of life is that we’re far too easily satisfied by things that pale in comparison to the divine gifts all around us. Take something you’re excited about right now. Anything: your next cup of coffee, the next phone upgrade, that slowly-approaching vacation, the words of affirmation you’re seeking from a spouse or a friend or a stranger. How does it compare to a divinely spoken and shepherded water molecule? In a world where the smallest things are given divine gravity, how do your little distracted excitements compare? God is doing something great just by existing right now . . . around every corner, at every stoplight, in every ray of morning light. Staring at those things will satisfy your soul more than anything else, because that’s how you were made. That’s how I was made. We’re God-starers.

We Have To Find God

In the end, we miss God’s presence because we give up the finding. We don’t seek. We don’t knock. The door isn’t opened to us.

We have to find God, my friends. We have to ask, seek, and knock on the doors surrounding us. Not just for a season, not just for advent or lent or Easter Sunday. That’s not going to serve us well. We have to find him everyday . . . in the water molecules, in the pavement, in the pine needles, in our finger prints. We have to find God moment-by-moment in the ordinary.

And when we do, when we consistently cultivate an awareness of God’s presence in the ordinary, we’ll begin to feel overwhelmed, in the most glorious sense of the word. We’ll feel overwhelmed at the greatness of God, overwhelmed by a prodigal gift-giver, overwhelmed by Immanuel, and underwhelmed by anything else.


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