God is constantly at work in our lives though this is not always apparent. But as we look back often it is possible to see a pattern and rhythm that suggests Life and Love at work. I have been visiting lately with a homeless man with whom I had been acquainted in years past (through “the rooms” as they say in 12-step lingo). He has a tender heart and wants desperately to trust God.
He tells me part of him believes that Jesus is real, but at the same time, he struggles because he cannot see Jesus. Recently he spent some days in the hospital and was not allowed solid food; by the time the doctor said he could eat, the kitchen was closed. A young nurse returned shortly thereafter with a delicious hot meal she had purchased from the public cafeteria. We talked about that moment – how good the food tasted and how soothing to the soul her kindness was. He considered that, yes indeed, he could see Jesus in that act of generosity. The sense of uncertainty in my friend’s voice is palpable, but so is the possibility of renewed hope.
We are none of us alone – even when we are certain that we are. It is no accident that I reconnected with this friend at this place and time. It is not an accident that shortly after our conversation, another friend called who was struggling to discern a next step – struggling to see the fingerprints of God on her dreams. We discover the reality of the Living God as we live and move within the context of community. My faith is renewed because of the beautiful people I encounter, because of relationships that are formed and re-formed. We feed each other and help each other to see. Together we move from a sense of solitary shame and fear to an experience of communal grace and faith.
I have been reading a fair amount lately and keep encountering a common theme – that God lights our path but not all at once, rather step-by-step as we need it. Where he is leading us is not always obvious and it is rarely certain. Sometimes the light comes in the form of a memory, or through a friend’s kind word or heart-felt sharing. Learning to be open to this holy light, to look for it, means trusting a friend or two along the way. It requires a willingness to be vulnerable, to share a bit of what we can see (or, at least, of what we think we can see).
Yesterday I was sharing with a friend about this new ministry, this “church without walls.” I shared what is happening right now with it, and some of the next steps I can see or imagine. I shared until I reached the muddy, dim edges of my vision. It is all right to wander into the foggy wilderness. This is a good place to pray and wait, to trust God. He is working a wonder — weaving a grace-filled tapestry — in us, through us, and among us.