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The 4th Sunday of Easter; John 10:1-10

There once was a little boy who wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with Twinkies and a six-pack of root beer and he started his journey.

When he had gone about three blocks, he met an old woman. She was sitting in the park just staring at some pigeons. The boy sat down next to her and opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the old lady looked hungry, so he offered her a Twinkie. She gratefully accepted it and smiled at him. Her smile was so pretty that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered her a root beer. Once again she smiled at him. The boy was delighted!

They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word.
As it grew dark, the boy realized how tired he was and he got up to leave, but before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran back to the old woman and gave her a hug. She gave him her biggest smile ever.

When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later, his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face.
She asked him, “What did you do today that made you so happy?”
He replied, “I had lunch with God.” But before his mother could respond, he added, “You know what? She’s got the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen!”

Meanwhile, the old woman, also radiant with joy, returned to her home.
Her son was stunned by the look of peace on her face and he asked, “Mother, what did you do today that made you so happy?”
She replied, “I ate Twinkies in the park with God.” But before her son responded, she added, “You know, he’s much younger than I expected.”

How and where do you see God?  What picture pops into your head when you hear the name?  I’ve always wondered how that small word can be so utterly confusing.  So many emotions and pictures fall under it.  Sometimes I believe God likes to keep us confused so we don’t become complacent with Him.  I think he likes to keep us wondering where our next step is going to lead, when our journey is going to make a bend.

Everyone has some picture that comes to mind when the word ‘God’ is spoken. Many things can influence our personal photograph. Listening to our parents or pastor; watching a movie; or reading a book; even pictures on the wall.  God is everywhere, in everything, in everyone, looking different to each person.

I recently surveyed 10 people.  I asked them to draw or otherwise describe how they envisioned God at three stages in their life – when they were a child, at the present time and in the future.  The end result?  Although God looks, sounds and appears very differently to each of us, God is also always the same.

Everyone told of love coming from God. Eight out of the ten saw God as Jesus when they were children.  After all, pictures, stained glass windows, hymns – all the things that surround children – are about Jesus.  So it’s not surprising that God and Jesus end up being one and the same.  One person envisioned mountains when thinking about God as a child (I had to ask about that one!).  In their kitchen was a picture of mountains on the wall.  Each time grace was said at the table, their mother would be looking at these mountains, therefore – grace – God – mountains.  Makes sense to me!

I am reminded of the story of the little girl in Sunday school who was drawing a picture. The teacher asked the girl what she was drawing.  The little girl replied “I am drawing a picture of God”.  The teacher said, “but no one knows what God looks like.”  To which the girl replied, “Well they will after they see my picture.” Do you suppose God gave us children to teach or to learn from?

When it came to drawing or describing God in the present, the group was much more diversified.  Most defined God as a spirit but added words such as ‘love’ ‘strength’ ‘guiding’ ‘listening’ ‘caring’.  And very important – a friend.  The common theme in this section was that God is all around us – in trees and flowers, mountains and oceans, sunshine and rain – in our families – in our endeavors.  God cannot be seen they said– but always unquestionable faith in His presence.  We believe in God despite what our eyes can’t see.  You would think this concept would be too complicated – especially for children – but God is, in truth, seen constantly – everywhere in everything. One person answered: God resides in the sum of all creation and flows back to us. That pretty much says it, doesn’t it?

Envisioning God in the future included the most surprising results.  We went from – within another state, an entity within the spirit and oneself, devoid of earthly goods, returning to God in faith and goodness.  I think though the answer that sums up the entire experiment, “I’m not concerned about what God looks like but that I’ll be wonderfully surprised by his love.”  Isn’t this what it’s all about?  God’s love. God is love.

I was told this was a difficult task to provide descriptive pictures of God. Why is it that sometimes we feel the presence of God and other times our vision falters?  Sometimes we can see Him so vividly in our lives and yet we can find it difficult to share a likeness. I suppose that may be because some people sense God’s presence more readily than others.

One thing that came through quite strongly is that no one, in any section, not as a child, in the present or in the future, said they could see the presence of God in other people.  God’s goodness and love are mentioned many times but where you find that, where you see it – wasn’t explained.   Everyone has at least a little bit of God working in them.   Finding it in our friends and the people we meet can be a challenge worth pursuing.  Seeing God at work is never a waste of time.

We may not be able to see God all the time but that doesn’t mean God isn’t there.  Sense God’s presence rather than actually seeing Him.  He lives in the moment, each moment, every moment.

He is everywhere, in everything, looking like different things to different people.  Look for God in the ordinary, in the every day, especially in the people.  You’ll find Him where you least expect Him.

Copyright © 2014 Kay Baxter