Have you ever had a God sighting? You know…knowing that you’ve just seen something that God sent to bless you? It’s really cool. Once you have, though, you have to choose whether to walk away knowing you’ve experienced God, or choose to see it as simply a natural coincidence.
Whether you’re touched by the visual beauty of God’s creation around you, or by what seems to be something of the supernatural – at some point we’ve all had to acknowledge God and maybe dig a little deeper into our faith bank and see what comes out.
You can find evidence of God all around. My friends and I call it God Art. You can find it standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, or along the beach watching the waves crash on the shore. Easy ones to identify are rainbows, or when the sun sets and you see some of the most beautiful colors of yellow and orange. Did those things happen just by chance? And who put those colors in the world and gave them definition and ordered them in their place and made them different from one another? And who formed this body of mine together in my mother’s womb – original (which is a good thing cuz I’m not sure the world is ready for two of me) and different than anyone else – with eyes that enable me to see those colors? So many intricacies involved that, to me, just can’t be happenstance. These are questions we all have, but I choose to call them pieces of God art. Hmmm…I never actually thought about my body as art…especially with these love handles midway that I blame on Sunday morning waffles and late night ice cream.
Then there’s the harder to explain God sightings. There are some that claim to have seen tears fall from the eyes of a statue in an Italian cathedral. Some have held an X-ray in their hand showing cancer, but when doctors look again they find nothing but healthy tissue. Now THAT would most definitely have been evidence that God had been in the mix.
At some point we all have to examine those things and decide which are real, and which are not. Many God sightings we’ll never know if are truly from God, so that’s when we are faced with a tough decision – are we going believe by faith without proof, or reject God sightings as coincidence. Ohhh…if we pick blind faith that means we are choosing to believe in miracles. YIKES! That’s edgy and a little scary.
I’ve had many God sightings. Sure…I count every t I see the promise of a rainbow, or a beautiful pine tree whose branches reach upward to the One who created it as God sightings. But I also think God has encouraged me in another tangible way.
The first time I felt like I had experienced God in a supernatural way I viewed it as a “feel good” moment, and didn’t really consider it a God sighting. I was sitting by a lake at a church camp where I was a chaperone when my son was in 7th grade. My father had passed away the year before and I was dealing as the primary care and support of my mother. I had moved her to a new residence, was managing her finances, but most of all I was her main source of relationship and encouragement. So I was overwhelmed and discouraged, and unsure whether I was giving her the care she needed.
As I sat by the lake, I had a lovely time in God’s word and spent a some time just being still and praying. Being still doesn’t happen in my world as much as I’d like. Something specific that I was praying about was my questioning whether I was giving my mom the right care – was I having the conversations with her that she needed? Had I done the right thing to move her? I sat there a bit…just resting in my prayers…not expecting an answer. Then out of nowhere, all of a sudden a white dove flew by, circled around and flew back directly toward where I was seated. I watched it coming directly at me, and then at the last moment it pulled up and fluttered mid-air in place about six feet in front of me for about 5 seconds. I swear I looked it right in the eye. Then just as quickly it flew off.
What? No way! It must have been a pidgeon, right? Nope. I know what a pidgeon looks like, and I’ve never seen a white one so this was no pidgeon. So since I had been asking God for answers, and the Holy Spirit is depicted as a dove it dawned on me in a spiritual moment that it may have been a “God moment” – dare I call it a God sighting – an encouragement from God to affirm what I was doing for my sweet Mama was good. Silly, right? I must admit it felt good to imagine that God might care enough for me that He might send me that message of hope…whether or not He had actually sent the dove.
Oh Kris…you are so gullible. Well, if that had been the only dove experience I might agree with you. But I’ve had at least five more almost identical experiences with doves in the past 14 years. Twice I was driving, and again feeling as if I wasn’t sure the direction I was going (not in the car, but in life or in a major decision I was making) was the right one. Seriously. Where a dove (once more it was white, the other four were gray) flew smack in front of my windshield….fluttered ahead of me…and then flew off. What the heck?
Why would God send me doves? Perhaps because He knows my lack of faith and that I would need something tangible that I could see that might settle my fears. I have no idea. Maybe they weren’t even from God…maybe doves are just attracted to me. I’d rather have doves dive bomb me than magpies or crows.
Madeline L’Engle says that “Faith is the opposite of reason. Faith is what makes our life bearable, with all its tragedies and ambiguities, and sudden startling delights and joys.”
So I’m at the crossroad between startling miracles and coincidences. Hmmm. I think I have just enough faith to choose to see my dove encounters as tiny little miracles. God sightings. If that makes me gullible then I’m OK with that.
So what do dove sightings have to do with grace? Well, the dove and grace were /are both given as a gift to me. Unmerited. Love in action when I don’t deserve it. I didn’t deserve the little bit of encouragement that a silly dove brings me, nor do I deserve the grace God (and often those around me) offer me.
All I know is that I am deeply loved by Christ, and I’ve done nothing to deserve it. And His grace is sufficient enough to find me there in the midst of my little world, my trial, my suffering,… and sufficient enough to give new encouragement through a dove. It’s enough to seek me out lakeside at a kids camp to say “keep at it, Kris. You’re on the right path. I am pleased with the love and care you are giving your mom.” What a gift.
When you make the choice to receive these gifts, whether in the form of a God sighting, or God’s love… that is the activating agent that sets that grace in motion in who you are, and in your forgiveness. Don’t be a spectator and watch grace dealt out to others around you. Jump in the grace pool. God’s grace is a gift, and He won’t force it on you. It can be watched and observed, but still not experienced. Have you accepted the gift of His grace yet?
Well, that’s me n God…living by faith in my tiny little space in time in Orangevale, Ca., and being honored to live this time apportioned to me, walking the sometimes mundane moments but keeping my heart open for opportunities to serve and keeping my eyes open for God sightings and God art along the way.