I can’t tell you who first coined the term “fingerprints of God” but the idea is a good one. The concept is that all around us, in the ordinary, mundane of every day there is evidence of the activity of God at work in our lives if we will pay attention to it. The problem is too often we‘re oblivious to God.
Recently I was in Red Deer to visit someone in the hospital, and then get some groceries and gas. My original thought was that after the visit I would get both gas and groceries from Costco since gas was cheapest there, but as I left the hospital I changed my mind and went to Superstore for groceries instead and then to Costco for gas.
When I got to Costco the parking lot was packed and any open spot already had a couple of cars waiting to get in. I found a spot but it was about as far from the doors as you could get. It wasn’t until I was out of the truck and on my trek to the distant doors that it occurred to me I had only come there for gas. Even though I kicked myself for my absent mindedness I decided I go into the store anyway if for nothing else than the free food samples.
I ended up buying a snow shovel and as I got through the checkout met a friend I hadn’t seen for some time so chatted for a bit. As we said goodbye I saw the line to get out stretched way back to the eating area. Apparently there was someone new checking receipts and he was very slow. I grumbled a bit in my head as the line shuffled towards the door.
On to get gas, and of course I picked the line where the guy in front of me couldn‘t get his card to work. More grumbling under my breath till I finally reached the pump.
I was finally just seconds from getting out of town when my son texted me saying that he‘d like to connect. He lives in Red Deer and it had been a while so I suggested I take him for supper. That‘s when it hit me. If I hadn‘t been absent minded, or met the friend, or had a long line, or picked the wrong pump, I would have been long gone and missed the chance to connect with my son.
Some say coincidence, I see God‘s fingerprints.
It’s amazing how often God gives me opportunity to put into practice the stuff that I preach. Last week I was preaching from Romans 12 where it says don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. That very night someone stole my wallet out of my truck and proceeded to go on a bit of a spending spree. Fortunately we caught it mid-morning and were able to take the necessary action. But I have to admit that overcoming this evil with good wasn’t where my thoughts were at until God brought me up short and reminded me of the sermon.
I haven’t had the opportunity to direct this approach at the perpetrator, but the evil in my heart was definitely overcome by God’s goodness. It got me thinking about what Paul means by overcome. Let me give you a picture that might help explain.
Wendy and I were in Hawaii with her folks for their 25th Anniversary. We were sitting on a beach together and she went into the water to cool off. She wasn’t far off shore but was about chest deep as the bottom dropped away sharply. As she was enjoying the relaxing ebb and flow of the waves the water level dropped to her knees. Unfortunately she didn’t realise what this event preceded, nor did she catch my shouting and pointing in warning till too late. A massive wave came out of “nowhere” and towered over her. She panicked eyes wide with sudden terror and tried to outrun the wave. You can imagine what happened: she was overcome by the wave. (By the way if this happens to your wife, for the love of Pete, don’t let her see you laughing when she crawls out of the foam gasping and sputtering, hair in her face and sand everywhere!)
That’s the picture (the wave, not my poor wife) that Paul had in mind; an irresistible wave of love and mercy and grace overcoming everyone in its path. I’ve always read that Romans verse as pointing outward, that is, overcoming evil someone does to you. It is, but first the evil in me needs to be overcome.
The first couple of verses of 1John 5 tell us that anyone born of God overcomes the world. Do you have some evil in your world that needs to be overcome? Maybe it’s time you sat down with God to truly understand what it means to be “born of God.” And when you do, expect the wave to hit you first.
How well do you rest? That’s not the same as asking if you sleep well at night, though it may be part of it. But do you know how to rest? I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard in the last number of months exclaim how exhausted they are. I’m still learning, and considering the books that have been written on the subject this little article won’t be “exhaustive” (sorry couldn’t resist) but here are a few things I’ve learned about resting well.
God prescribed for us a day of rest; the Sabbath. For our purposes here I’m not concerned with a specific day of the week rather simply a day of rest. Typically I’ve seen two approaches to Sabbath. The more traditional approach has been to assume that Sabbath is intended to be a time to focus on God, so we plan and structure our day with meetings and activities, making lists of what can and cannot be done on that day. So much so that it becomes the least restful day of the week.
The other, more recent approach to Sabbath rest is to ignore it completely and see each day as on opportunity to accomplish something. There is a uniquely western attitude that worships productivity. Many of us feel a sense of guilt if we are not doing something clearly productive with our time. Neither of these are God’s plan for our rest.
The key to resting well is that we need to consciously and intentionally make room for God. To do this requires taking time for solitude and stillness. Very few of us know how to be truly still before God; to calm and quiet our minds and simply enjoy the presence of God. And we are not able to truly be still without solitude.
For many that’s a frightening prospective. The silence is as awkward as travelling in a car with a mild acquaintance. We feel the need to fill the time with conversation. Resist and instead learn the joy and wonder of the intimacy of silence. If God wants to speak that’s wonderful, but let him initiate the conversation.
I’m not suggesting you need to spend an entire day in silence, though occasionally that can be a wonderful experience. Sabbath or resting well also includes enjoying community, which is spending unstructured time with family or close friends. Taking time for play or recreation is also important. But the foundation of learning to rest well the way God designed is to on a regular basis create that space for him.