It’s easy to experience God in the beautiful. I went truck camping this past weekend and found a peaceful, quiet spot by running water. I’d been waiting for a night or two to drive new dirt roads. To find something new, somewhere quiet. I drove miles into the wild, kicking up clouds of dust, thick forest transformed to burnt blackened trees scarce of limbs and bare of pine needles. I found a rough road leading to the creek. No one else was around. It was just me and the calm earth, barely a breeze—birdsongs, a woodpecker’s knock, soft flowing water and golden red mountains at dusk, full of charred trees from a past fire, the landscape covered in thin smoke from a forest fire or two somewhere else. The red mountains turned gray as golden hour led to night. I sat still in my camp chair—seeing, hearing, experiencing God in his world. It was beautiful.
But then it’s over. I leave that beauty behind and go home to the banal. What happens when you leave your favorite place of rest, when your weekend or vacation or trip is over, when the retreat or conference or service is finished. What about all the other not-so-beautiful moments that make up most of our days? (Screaming kids, a long day at work, a breakup, a failure, a sickness, an unexpected loss, loneliness, you name it.) What then?
Maybe God would say something like this:
I am not experienced only in the beautiful, but also in the ugly, the hard, the mundane. Not only in fullness, but also in emptiness. In loss, disappointment, despair.
I am not present in rest and peace alone, but also in tension, in turmoil, in anxiety, in doubt.
I know you when you know nothing. When you have no answers I will not be an answer; only a little light at your feet, just enough to see that you’re okay, though all else may seem to contradict it.
I’m not only in the beautiful. I’m in everything else.