I’ve been in conversation with a number of friends lately about the spiritual life and our in/ability to discern who is God and how God is active in our lives. An older acquaintance recently mentioned his inability to discern God’s movement earlier in his life, but the present conviction that looking back God was guiding him all along. This is a very familiar experience for me of God–the overwhelming feeling of blessing and smallness, when I can step back and see God’s plans despite feeling as though I might have been alone at times along the way.
Another conversation led me to feeling that experiences of God often have to do with feeling a sense of deep connection with human beings, or an experience of deep disconnect. The first seems obvious, while the second is less so. For instance, the experience of being in the Philippines last February is still unnerving for me, because I was confronted with my own privilege, as I tried to relax and vacation in comfort, while others around me lived in supreme poverty. The persistent nagging of those images, that experience, though, I also think is God.
God doesn’t introduce disconnection with other human beings into our lives for sinister or evil purposes, but yet that evil exists in God’s world, and to experience it is to know the challenge that God has put forth for us to work for greater justice, peace, and connection among human beings and with God.
It is refreshing for me to marvel that our God does not merely provide reassurance but disturbance. God disturbs our worlds when they become too much our own, havens we have put up to shield ourselves from the goodness of fellowship with others who are different from us, and yet wholly created in the image of God. God disturbs our worlds when they prevent us from growing in humility, faithfulness, and goodness. God disturbs our worlds to be closer to us, and because God truly knows our needs.
How have you experienced God in the past or in the present? How does God disturb your world, how does God know you as no one else does, and how have you experienced the grace of God through connection with others?