I’ll never forget the experience of visiting a southern Baptist church years ago. Having been raised with a religion that was very calm and orderly in its services, I enjoyed the lively Baptist service, with lots of joyous singing and clapping. There was a vibrant energy in the parishoners that I’d not seen before.
One thing that mystified me though was how they would raise one hand very high, almost as if they were trying to touch the sky. I asked about this and was told that they were reaching up toward God.
I found that interesting because God isn’t just “up there”, as we’ve traditionally been taught — God is everywhere, and in everything. So they could just as easily have held their hand over their own heart, or held their neighbor’s hand, in their desire to “touch God”.
God is a concept that we humans seem to have some difficulty grasping, mostly because of our 3-D brains which have a hard time understanding multi-dimensional ideas. And so, over the ages, we’ve come up with some pretty neat stories about who God is and where God lives (most people would say “in heaven”).
But God is so much bigger, vaster, and grander than we can comprehend. The best we can hope for is to get a knowing or a feeling about God, because that we can trust. Our intellectual understanding isn’t as trustworthy (for the reason I mentioned earlier — we have 3-D brains and are trying to understand something that is infinite in its dimensions).
One thing that is knowable is that God is omnipresent (meaning God is everywhere and in everything). God is not only IN everything, God is IN BETWEEN everything. There are no spaces, places, things, or non-things where God is not.
That means that God lives in you, in me, in animals, in plants, in rocks, in air…everywhere, including “up there”. I think this is why so many people enjoy getting out in nature to feel more connected to their source. They are able to easily see God’s presence in the beauty and wonder of nature.
So here’s a challenge for you: try to see God in everyone you meet! This is the same as looking for their inner light, seeing their greatest self, honoring their essence. Look for their connection to God, their highest self. And do this with everyone — yes, everyone.
See if you can recognize God in the telemarketer who calls during dinner, in the rude driver on the highway, in the overworked waitress at the restaurant, in the short-tempered sales clerk at the store, in your neighbor, in your mother-in-law — you get the idea!
As you can predict, this is much more challenging than seeing God in nature’s beauty. Try to look past the surface behavior to see the essence of the other person, to see their glory, their magnificence.
At first, this might feel impossible. But as you keep practicing (perhaps start with people who are easy to love and who are sweet and kind), it will become easier for you.
I had an experience one day years ago when I was driving in rush hour traffic in a very busy city. I had been practicing seeing God in others for some time, with some limited success. And suddenly, it was as if a light switch was flipped on, and I saw everyone with love; I saw their innate beauty; I saw God in all of them.
As I looked around at the people in their cars in the traffic jam, I saw a man yelling into a cell phone, and I saw God. I saw a woman clearly frustrated with her kids, and I saw God. I saw people honking their horns in frustration, and I saw God. It was an amazing experience, and it gave me a glimpse of God in everyone. After about 20 minutes, it ended.
But that experience has stayed with me ever since. It reinforced to me that I want to live in that state, and encouraged me to keep looking for God in everyone and everything. And I encourage you to try to see God everywhere, for God is there, everywhere you look. There is nowhere you can look where God isn’t.
Try this and have fun with it! Then let me know about your experience…