Week 2, Day 5: God at Work
... for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.
- Gerard Manley Hopkins, “As Kingfishers Catch Fire”
READ: GENESIS 50:15-21
I was ordained as a pastor in November 2011, two years after graduating from seminary. My vocational journey — and my sense of calling — had taken wild swings from law to music to theology to politics. But that day served as the culmination of a process in which I had thought I had been veering from one extreme to the next, but all of it fell within the broad brushstroke of God’s will for my life. That was when I saw and experienced the truth that God never wastes an experience. But, like I said earlier this week, it took almost a decade.
The interesting thing about Joseph’s story is that we are regularly told that God was with him and blessed him — particularly in situations we might consider less than ideal: when he was a slave in Potiphar’s house (Genesis 39:2-5), when he was in jail (39:20-23), and even helping him to interpret Pharaoh’s dream (41:15-16). Perhaps Joseph felt the presence of God in those dark and trying moments; perhaps he only discerned it later. By the end of his life, he was able to see how God had turned evil intentions into great blessing, saying to his brothers: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good” (50:20).
The foundation of the spiritual life is being able to notice God in every place and every situation. As Indian priest Anthony de Mello wrote, “Spirituality means waking up. Most people, even though they don’t know it, are asleep. … They never understand the loveliness and beauty of this thing that we call human existence.” Or as Richard Peace writes,
We are meant to be creatures who inhabit two worlds: the natural and the supernatural. But the natural world is so present to us with all its buzzing sights, sounds, tastes and smells that we scarcely notice that other reality — unless we take time to notice. This is what practicing the spiritual discipline of noticing God brings: a sense of the supernatural in the midst of the natural. This gives a wholeness to our living.
There is no guarantee that in the midst of difficulty or suffering, we will always be able to see or understand how God is at work — but we can know that God is always at work to bring about good, that as the apostle Paul wrote (in our verse of the week, Romans 8:28): “God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
As you have been looking back over your life — at the experiences, relationships, trials, and blessings that have led you to where you are — hopefully you have also been able to see how God has used some of those things to grow you, in character, in maturity, and in faith. If not, be patient; the journey isn’t over yet!
REFLECT & RESPOND
Use today’s time to work on your story.
Thank God for the ways he has been at work in your life, even when you weren’t aware of it; and ask him to keep your eyes open to how he’s at work in your life right now.
Blessings are the things
we benefit from, which we had
no part in bringing about.