I am looking for God this week. God is not missing. I am missing God. Maybe I better explain.
First, my life gets busy. (Does your life get busy? Can I get an “amen”?) It is so easy to get swept up in the rumble of life and the things that keep us so busy. Going a little deeper, the things that keep us busy can take on an importance that they really don’t have.
Second, Lent begins next Wednesday. Lent is the 40 day period that prepares us for Easter. In a way lent is a time-out. In just the way a parent puts a child in a time-out and says “I want you to think about what you’ve done,” in lent God offers us a time-out, gives us time to reflect on what we have done and who are and (and this a really important part) gives us time to reflect on what God has done and who God is.
Third, during Lent, we follow Jesus to the cross. That story is an awful witness to what human beings can do to one another. It’s pretty horrifying to me. I need to prepare for that.
Fourth, the world feels heavy right now. In recent weeks, several people have shared their hopelessness and anxiety with me. In some ways, I share their feelings.
Fifth, I worship a living God. I experience God in my life, in the day to day.
So, in order to reset my priorities, to prepare for lent and refuel with the living oxygen God always offers, I have gone looking for God this week. Someone once said to me “you go looking for what you need.” I think that is true. The world is so beautiful and so full of amazing things, why not be honest about what we need and look?
But how do you look for God?
The Australian Aborigines have a custom of walkabout. A walkabout is a rite of passage for young men ages 10-16. They live in the wilderness for six months in order to make a spiritual transition to manhood. I think of what I am doing as a walkabout, no sleeping on the ground, no encounters with crocodiles like the aborigines might experience. I just walk around my world, my wilderness, looking for what I might discover, watching and listening for the presence of God.
Watching and listening. In order to do that, I have to slow down. “Be still and know that I am God” says the psalmist in Psalm 46. Slow down, listen, breathe. I am looking for evidence of the living God present in the world, something beyond me
Have I found God? I have found good people. I have seen good ministries and care in place. I have run into an old friend and been reminded again of how important people are in my life. But honestly, I have not found what I am looking for yet. I am looking for a stirring in my heart, and easing of my soul, lungs filling with the reassurance that God is with us. By faith, I know God is with us, but I want to feel it.
It is only Wednesday. And I am not very good at being still. So more stillness, more downshifting, more looking and watching. I will share more on Sunday, but right now, I am beginning to feel more at peace.
May you be filled with the living oxygen of God.
Blessings to you from the wilderness,
Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church