Learn to Notice the Invisible God

If truth be told, I need to admit that I often feel frustrated with God.  The reason is that I want God to show himself off, to make it absolutely clear where he is at any moment.  I want God to shine a neon arrow so that I know where to look to see what he is up to.  But God appears to be quite content to work incognito so that we are often not even aware that God is at work around us.

The story of Moses begins this way (Exodus 2:1-10).  In the story of his birth, and of being placed in a basket in the river, and of being rescued from the river by Pharaoh’s daughter, God is never mentioned.  The text never says, “God did this” or “God did that,” but when we look carefully, we find frequent evidence of the working of God.  Though Pharaoh has commanded that “every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile” (Exodus 1:22), Moses’ parents are able to hide him safely for three months.  When it becomes too risky for them to hide him at home any longer, his mother puts him in the river in a papyrus basket.  Wonder of wonders, Pharaoh’s daughter just happens to find this baby, and, against all odds, she decides to rescue this child whom her father, the Pharaoh, had condemned.  Moses’ sister just happens to be nearby and offers for her mother to nurse the baby.  Moses’ own mother now gets legal protection and pay to nurse her child and to raise her child until he is weaned.  Moses is then raised in Pharaoh’s own court as Pharaoh’s daughter’s own son.  Pharaoh’s daughter gives the boy the name of Moses (meaning “drawn out”), announcing, “I drew him out of the water.”  She takes credit for Moses’ rescue, but all the while it has been God working incognito.    

In his book Reaching for the Invisible God, Philip Yancey writes, “My own understanding of God’s hiddenness traces back…to my first visit to a natural history museum.  I gawked at the huge stuffed grizzly bears and the woolly mammoths and the yellowed skeletons of whales and dinosaurs hanging from the ceiling.  One exhibit, however, kept beckoning me: a display of animal camouflage.  When I first walked past it, I saw side-by-side scenes of winter and summer foliage.  Only when I returned and stared intently did I notice the animals hiding in the diorama: a ferret chasing a snowshoe hare in the winter scene, praying mantises, birds, and moths in the summer.  A placard detailed how many animals were hidden, and I spent half the day lingering there, trying to locate them all” (p. 118).

Yancey goes on to share, “I turned to God primarily because of my discovery of goodness and grace in the world: through nature, through classical music, through romantic love.  Enjoying the gifts, I began to seek the giver; full of gratitude, I needed Someone to thank.  Like the animals in the diorama, God had been there all the while, waiting to be noticed.  Though I still had no proof, only clues, the clues led me to exercise faith” (p. 118).

The job of faith is to look at the diorama of our lives as carefully as Philip Yancey looked at the diorama in the natural history museum—looking not to spot the snowshoe hare or the moth but to spot the presence of God around us. 

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