An admirable step in our Christian walk is to begin to look for Jesus in the events and people we come upon. Looking for the face of Christ in others can help us move away from seeing so many enemies in our path and allow us to see the deep connections we share with others. Looking for the will of Christ in painful events can help bring us to a place of acceptance and breakthroughs of understanding can present themselves. The things we didn’t want to happen actually can be seen as being transformed and placed within the ultimate will of God for us and the world. We can move to that place where we don’t take pain quite so personally. But, still, when I am looking for Christ I am really putting myself at the center of things. Whether or not I see him becomes the most important thing. In a way, looking for Christ is an attitude of belligerence toward God: we are demanding that he show himself.
What God really asks us to do is to watch with Jesus. That involves deeper, and harder, work on our part. It involves acceptance. We are asked to move from being entangled in our world and looking for the little visits Christ may make to us to that place where we abide with Christ and observe the events in our world as situations where God’s will is being enacted. There we can come to see that we are not the primary actors in our lives. God, through Christ, is the primary actor in all of life.
Sometimes our search for the Lord’s presence takes on a frantic air where we desperately search for understanding so that we can make sense of what is going on. If we continue to sit quietly and listen, however, we will be taken to a more substantial place of grounding where we may actually have less understanding but more of a sense of well-being and trust.
A key spiritual tool is acceptance. We begin by learning to accept our situations, our pain, our sorrows, as things which simply are. Then we grow to see that God is not out to get us but that his gracious will includes our salvation. The same tool can be used with Christ himself. I can learn to begin each day, live each moment, accepting the presence of the Lord as reality. As I watch with him, rather than for him, I am able to see events and people more as God does. It becomes apparent that God is for me, not against me, and that God is for all his people.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asks those close to him to watch with him. If we were to put as much energy into imagining who God is as we do thinking about all that is happening to us, our very lives would be transformed. Rather than trying to convince God to see things as we see them, perhaps we should try to see them as God does. Instead of seeing God as a being outside your world, imagine the world more as something outside your relationship with Christ. Things happen to us, comfortable and uncomfortable, yet Christ abides with us in each and every moment.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.