Which world do you live in? Which world is most compelling? Which world is most true?
I don’t know about you (actually, I think I do…😊) but I live in the world I can see. That world is filled with people and projects, sickness and health, all kinds of feelings and observations. Many would call it the real world.
This morning I walked with a friend who has cancer. He has had it for a long time, but faces the very real possibility of another surgery in the very near future. The cancer has spread. We talked about marriage and parenting adult children, about physicians, shared stories from a past career we shared some 35 years ago, anticipated the uncertainty of the near future and pondered our hopes for the far future. Quietly, I found myself hating the disease, wanting something different for him and those he loves, and wondering about how this can happen.
The real world I live in is both tactile and yet surreal. I see it and feel it and sense it and experience it. It brings moments of joy, seasons of emptiness, times of confusion and disappointment and success and hope. This morning I was mad.
Most of the time that I live in that world, it is all that I am aware of. The Bible would call that “walking by sight.” What you see is what you get. What you feel is the greatest truth. Hope is defined by what is reasonable and possible. Whatever hope there is, has to be played out in the world I am describing.
So, what about God? Where is He? If you were to ask me about God, I would tell you that I believe Him to be sovereign, good, loving, merciful, just, and relationally engaged with me and His people for our good. He is alive and active and moving, advancing His kingdom.
But too often, perhaps most often, I don’t see that in the world I live in. Too often, I have a hard time even remembering those truths about God, much less seeing them as they might be playing out in my real world. I forget to look. I don’t put on those glasses. And when I don’t, I just see what I see. I have no idea or recollection that He might be working for His purposes through all those things that I see. I lose awareness of that larger world.
In my lack of awareness, I can’t begin to see Him or His purposes. I can’t begin to really know Him as a real actor in my life’s story. If I don’t remember that He is on stage, I sure can’t see the part He might be playing, or perhaps the script that He is writing for a bigger purpose.
But then there are times that I remember to look, yet I am still confused. Why cancer? Who benefits? What is the good You are doing for your people? I want to see the story behind the story but I can’t see it.
But then there are some times, when I am aware, and either I can see how He is using the circumstances of this life for His good or sometimes I even sense His invitations for me to play a small role. There is a phone call to make or an encouraging word to give or a meal to be taken. Even something as simple as a text. God, You can even use me in that Story behind the story. Help me look and listen for You. Give me the faith to search for the Larger Story.
And yet my default is to see what I see, to miss the Larger Story behind the “real world” story that is in my face. Because it feels like such a stretch to “walk by faith”, to believe that God is really up to something in His larger Story as I live out my “real world” story.
Can we see the Larger Story being worked out in the real world story? Can we look and listen with enough faith to that Larger story that He might use us? It sure would give this world more purpose if He would give me eyes to see His story. But I need more of Him, more faith, more conscious awareness, more. I sure would like that. Wouldn’t you?
Palmer Trice is an ordained Presbyterian minister. He is married to Lynne, has three children and has been in Charlotte since 1979. In his spare time, Palmer enjoys golf, tennis, walking and reading.
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