Having just finished Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis I must say there are several observations he makes in his book that I have pondered over the past several days.
One of them is a picture of a missionary “taking Jesus” to a people who don’t know about Him—and the common belief that God is absent from a certain place until they take Him to them. I must admit that that is exactly what I have thought, more or less all these years until reading what he had to say next. He said and I quote, “So the issue isn’t so much taking Jesus to people who don’t have Him, but going to a place and pointing out to the people there the creative, life-giving God who is already in their midst.” More like a tour guide than a missionary per se is what we are left with in his opinion.
In tandem with this thought is the idea that God is everywhere because if He wasn’t somewhere then that place wouldn’t even exist. So we simply show people who don’t know about God how to see Him wherever they are. Makes a lot of sense to me.
And this thought opened up several which I pondered for a time the other day. When someone opens up my mind to see something new and I start to make my own connections and feel the flow of creativity, I am sort of like a kid in a candy shop—I can’t wait to tell everyone I see about the journey and how exciting it is. Everything I am at that point is wrapped up in what I am thinking about the present reality that I find myself experiencing. It is new wine and would probably be better if shared after it had matured, but I guess the way I am wired is that if the present is under the tree it might just as well be opened.
My thoughts that day went like this: If God is everywhere and we are always in His presence, then what is He saying to us at any given moment and if this is true what else is all around us that we are missing out on by not being aware if its presence either. It is kinda of like the picture of the rose always being there but in our hurry not taking the time to look at it. Georgia O’Keefe said this about why she painted really big pictures of flowers:
So I said
to myself, I’ll paint what I see-what the flower is to me but I’ll paint it big
and they will be surprised into taking the time to look at it-I will make even
busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers.
So, as an artist, Georgia O’Keefe is like a visual tour guide showing us, who are often to busy to stop and look at and smell the roses, what they really look like up close and personal.
As a missionary then, our job as tour guide would be to show the people around us, what Romans 1:20 tells us is clearly there: For since the creation of the world God’s invisible
qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen,
being understood from what has been made, so that men are without
I guess you can begin to see where I was taking all of this. What are we missing by not being aware of all the stuff that is unseen and going on all around us. Not that we can be fully alive in every moment gleaning each and every kernal there is to glean from life (why can’t we be?).
In thinking this way I began to arrive at the conclusion that perhaps we have shut ourselves off to a lot of the stuff that is pure potential around us by being so task oriented in how we process our lives. What are we not seeing in each and every moment that we are awake and interacting with people. What is the travelogue going on all around us that we could tune into and by listening become fully alive and authentic people in the process.
It is like God is always broadcasting but much of the time we are tuned to another channel or have the radio off altogether.
I know this seems idealistic—we can’t really quit doing our jobs and become like bees pollenating every flower that we see—but maybe we can start by being more aware of the space around us and the people that we come into contact on a daily basis. Maybe our job is to make a difference in their lives by simply listening to their story and affirming their value as people—that’s a good place to start. Who knows but that we might find those people that we pass everyday may have something of value to give to us as well.
It is like the man used to say on television years ago before a certain crime drama—the naked city has 8 million stories and this is one of them.
Enjoy the flowers in your life.