It’s a cold night here in Indiana. We had a winter storm come through today, and so the ground is covered in a nice blanket of white snow. Looking out the window, it is dark and I just love how the snow just glistens and lights up the darkness of the night. It’s just an ordinary winter night here in the Midwestern United States.
As I was sitting in my chair, in my prayer corner in my home, reflecting upon the readings for today, I was doing some research as I often do. I looked down at the paper I was reading, a reflection also on today’s readings by a local priest. I looked at the date – Sunday, January 14, 2018
It is 2018. Where does the time go. And I am just 40 years old. But I look over at my son, 9 and half year’s old now. He helped shovel the driveway today. He’s getting so big. He’s sitting on the couch reading. Another ordinary night, in an otherwise ordinary year.
But the thing is, if we string together a few ordinary days, and a few ordinary seasons, and a few ordinary years, before you know it – you’re looking at life, and wondering – where did the time go? You look at life, the things you’ve done, and certainly the things you haven’t done. You try to see where you’ve made a difference, but often the only thing you can see is the mistakes you’ve made, and the things you could have done better. The things you wished you have done better.
You think back about how God has called you in the past. Looking back, you can see it now, that God was calling you to do something, to make a difference. You couldn’t see it then. It was ordinary, a little whisper that you simply glossed over. But looking back, you see that it was God, providing an opportunity for you. And you passed it by, barely noticing it. You looked the other way.
Anyone have occurrences like this? Missed opportunities to do God’s will, times that, in looking back you knew that it was a nudge from God? Looking back at these times, it’s water all under the bridge. You can’t go back. But what is it that you can do today? Because I really think that true growth is when you can see God in the moment – and respond – just as Samuel did in the first reading, and just as Andrew, and then Simon turned Cephas translated to Peter did for Jesus when He called them.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,
“What are you looking for?”
What are we looking for? Most times, we are focused on our own wants and needs. A new job. Healing of a disease. Money to help with financial problems. Maybe it’s for our house to sell. Perhaps it’s for peace in our country, or community. The list goes on and on. Big and small. All important to us. And that’s okay.
But what are we truly looking for? Do we stay silent enough, long enough to listen for Jesus to ask us that question? And if and when we do, do we stop and reflect and answer?
Do we ask ourselves What am I looking for? Maybe we say, I’m just an ordinary person. I’m simply looking for ends to meet so I can pay the bills. I’m looking for healing for my friend. I’m looking for my kid to stop being bullied. I’m looking for a new job, one where I will finally be fulfilled.
We want to be fulfilled. We want to be happy. We want peace. We want to love and we all want to be loved. But yet, so many times, we’re looking in all the wrong places. We think we find all of this, but it’s in all the wrong things. In 1 Corinthians Chapter 6, Paul states:
“Everything is lawful for me,” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is lawful for me,” but I will not let myself be dominated by anything.
Corinth was a pretty immoral place in that day. Not unlike the society we live in. But we often think we’ll find that fulfillment, that peace, that happiness, and that love in the things of this world, the material and the flesh. But as soon as we think we have it, it’s gone. And we need more. We’re chasing the wind, then end of the rainbow.
And so then Jesus comes into our lives, and He speaks to us, asking us plainly, in an ordinary way, “what are you looking for? Tell me. Talk to me about it, and I can help you find it. I can provide the way.”
The question is, do we listen? Do we see it at that time? Do we see God in our midst, reaching out to us, calling us to do His work, to do His will? Are we like Samuel? Do we answer, Speak Lord, for your servant is listening? Do we say, Here I am Lord?
Or is it a missed opportunity?
Now, I know what some will say. How can I see God’s opportunities, and hear His voice in the bad, when people are suffering, when people are dying, in the injustice?
I can’t answer that, because I have hard enough time seeing him in those moment, and hearing His voice in the warm, cozy little world I live in. I hope to be there someday where I can more clearly hear His calling and His will, but I’m not there yet. I pray that those of you who struggle with answers and your faith, can find some sort of comfort and love and understanding in Christ, that you can feel Him in your life. I’m a work in progress, as all of us are. I’ve even had prayers answered and I still question many times if God is there, and what the point of it all is, especially if I happen to watch the news for an extended time.
But I have hope. I have the desire to keep trying. Because I have the faith that there is a higher purpose, that He will bring good out of the bad, and that through prayer, I can somehow make a difference and that good can come from it. And I keep praying for the understanding and the wisdom and for those opportunities where I can grow as a human being into the type of person that God wants me to be, and where I can make a difference in the world.
I hope for this, every day. Most days I fail myself, but every once in a while – I see Him. I see the opportunity. And that makes me want to strive for more.
Recognizing God in the ordinary. Not just seeking Him. Not just looking back and realizing He was there, years down the road. But recognizing Him in the moment, hearing His voice, and actually choosing to do His will in the moment, in the ordinary – that is my theme for 2018. This is what I am looking for.
What are you looking for?
1 SM 3:3B-10, 19; PS 40; 1 COR 6:13C-15A, 17-20; JN 1:35-42