I stopped in at the pre-school yesterday afternoon. I actually spent some quality time in a class of three-year-olds, long enough to hear them sing "Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God" to me, long enough to find out how they feed their brains so that they can grow strong, long enough to get some hugs, and hear a few declarations of upcoming birthdays.
The teacher told me that beside everything else they learn, they also are learning to look for God. They are learning to look for God everywhere. The teacher illustrated this by asking the children, "When you get up in the morning, who are you looking for?" "GOD!" the children shouted. "And when you are in the car, who are you looking for?" "GOD!" "And when you are in school, who are you looking for?" "GOD!"
They are always looking for God.
I remembered in my former congregation, that I wanted my congregation to practice "God-sightings." "Tell me where you saw God today," I asked them one Wednesday evening at an informal worship service. They were eerily silent.
So I was impressed that the teacher was already teaching her students to look for God. She said they learned that birds don't just say "tweet tweet", that they praise God, and that the trees praise God too.
It did my heart good to be there, for the hugs, for the songs, and for the reminder to always look for God.
It's not so easy as it looks.
I don't know what the trees and the birds were doing on Sunday morning in Sutherland Springs. I know that God was there, even in the presence of the evil, because I know that God does not abandon us. But sometimes God is really really hard to find. Sometimes God is impossible to find.
I keep thinking of the children: the children in Sutherland Springs, worshipping with the parents and grandparents. I keep thinking of the children who hugged my legs and told me they were looking for God everywhere.
Me too. Me too.
There's something about being around pre-school children. They remind me both of the simplicity and the impossibility of faith. Look for God in the birds and the flower petals. Stay close to the ground. Pay attention to the small things. Keep looking for God. Don't give up.
There are days when it is easy to see God, when I see the flash of a cardinal, or hear a baby laugh, or witness a small act of mercy. And then there are days when I close my eyes and I imagine what is promised: a day when there is no more mourning and no more death, when God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. I close my eyes and I imagine the city where the Lamb is the light, where the leaves of the trees are for the healing of the nations. I close my eyes and I tell myself that evil does not have the last word, will not have the last word, and I believe in the God I cannot see.