Thursday, August 28, 2008

Looking for God in All the Strange Places

By Nicole Seitz, http://www.nicoleseitz.com/

Do you remember the first time you learned about God as a child? I do.

I was fairly clueless. I remember learning that God knew my name, that he could make a miracle of me. Most of what I learned was in church choir. The first day my mother sent me to choir I got back in the car afterwards and she asked me, "How did you like it?"

"It was good," I said. "But all we did was sing."

As I mentioned, truths about God exhausted my tiny brain. My favorite and most challenging concept of God was that he is everywhere--he can be in all places at all times, and as I remember correctly, he could be in the plants and trees and a rock if he wanted to. This, my friends, captivated me. And, it still does.

In fact, every book I've written and probably will write deals with this concept that God can be seen in all facets of life--unexpected facets of life. There is a country song on the radio called "I saw God Today." I love this song. It's about seeing God in people, in circumstances, when we're least expecting it--how we should not be so worried about such-and-such but instead, if we stop to see the flowers pushing up from the concrete sidewalk, we would see that God is in every detail. So relax.

I love this aspect of God--the unexpected God, the aha! God. God is not boring to me, just the opposite. He's exciting. Following Him is exciting. Now, I'm not sure that being a writer and talking about God is the most popular thing. Perhaps not. It might not ever get me or my books on a bestseller list. Or, it might. Either way is okay with me. I like to write about magic in everyday life. God is my magic.

These days, my kids are in school, so I have a couple hours to get some work and writing done in the mornings. This is wonderful. Truly. Lately, the writing is coming easier which doesn't happen often, so I'm psyched (sorry for my eighties lingo but sometimes I'm stuck there.) Here's the thing, sometimes when I think God is turning on my faucet of word flow, he might throw something at me to distract a little, say, a tiny baby squirrel.

Yesterday morning, I looked out the window to see my cat standing hungrily over a tiny baby squirrel. I approached carefully as it appeared to be a very large rat. Just as soon as my cat had his dripping jaws on said squirrel, I shooed him away and saw the little thing. Poor baby. He was laid out flat on his belly, arms and legs straight out. Must have fallen from a tree onto the drive. Ouch. He wasn't moving much. I scooped him up and called around to find a vet that takes in wild animals. Miraculously, the little guy is perfectly fine, lying on a heating pad, drinking out of a dropper. Oh, and he didn't get eaten. I'd say he was one lucky squirrel to land in my drive. I'm a sucker for creatures. But I'll get back to the squirrel in a minute.

Believe it or not, this is going somewhere. I finally got some writing done yesterday. Groundbreaking writing. My son came home from school and we went to the grocery store where I got the urge to make eggplant Parmesan. Haven't made it in a gazillion years. My son and I picked out two long skinnies and one big fat one.

Later he wanted to go to the Children's Museum. They have this little play grocery store there where the kids can load their carts with plastic goodies and go through a pretend checkout. My son bought eggplants. Then, we went out back to the garden. There is nothing actually growing in the garden right now except, you guessed it, a single eggplant. I was starting to see a pattern and I took notice.

After the museum, we came back home and I started cooking dinner. I cut up the big fat eggplant and was lightly frying some of the pieces when I picked one up and was amazed to see the word--and I kid you not--"GOD" written in the eggplant. By now you are thinking I should adjust my medication, but I assure you. It was there. I showed it to my husband. His imagination doesn't stretch as far as mine does usually but he agreed. GOD was in my eggplant. We took a picture of it. Here it is. Perhaps you see something different in it, but for me, I see GOD in it. And it makes life so much fun when you see God in everything. It makes you feel you're never alone. It makes for unusual, interesting books. It makes loved ones want to put you in counseling. That too, can be a little bit fun at times.
All this to say that God is not usually quite so literal as to spell his name for me. But having the word fresh in my mind came in handy last night when my daughter and I were reading her little girl's Bible, and there was a story about Jared and how he lived over 900 years (whew!) and then he died. My daughter started crying about that last part. The dying part. She said she didn't want to die. I have tried to explain heaven (written a novel about it), but this too, is a very difficult thing to wrap one's head around when you're my age or tinier.

I had nothing. I asked God to please give me some words of comfort for this child without having to tell a flat out lie. He reminded me of the baby squirrel that morning. I told my daughter, "If God could have that little squirrel fall out of a tree onto our driveway and not get hurt, and if the cat could have him in his jaws and he not get eaten, and if he landed in my yard where God knew I would take him to the vet, can you imagine how much God loves that little squirrel? Can you imagine? And if he loves that little squirrel THAT much, can you IMAGINE how much he loves you and will take care of you?"

Magically, this seemed to stop the tears. Because better than knowing that God is everywhere, even in your eggplant, is the fact that God loves each one of us as his own. That he will take great care of us. And this is something that even a child can wrap her head around. Even me.
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Nicole Seitz lives in the Charleston, SC area with her husband, two children, cat and dog. Occasionally a snail, turtle, fish, worm, or squirrel comes to stay a while. Seitz is the author of THE SPIRIT OF SWEETGRASS, a novel about heaven and family, and TROUBLE THE WATER, a novel about healing. Her next novel, A HUNDRED YEARS OF HAPPINESS, will be released in March 2009 from Thomas Nelson. Today, she is busy working on her fourth novel and looking for God in unusual places.

You can visit her at http://www.nicoleseitz.com/ or email at nicole@nicoleseitz.com. She'd love to hear the strangest place you've ever seen God.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

the hard part is when you see the next squirrel, or dog, or possum, who didn't make it, and having to explain why.

Nicole Seitz said...

Thanks for your comment. You're absolutely right..we've had to explain that one before and it's not easy. But when the opportunity comes along to highlight something wonderful in life, something that beats the odds, those are the things I like to focus on. It keeps hope alive.

Anna said...

This is excellent writing and a wonderful post about God being everwhere. I taught Biology in a Christian school for years. 10th graders aren't afraid to ask anything and I loved it.

What your daughter seems to be asking and you so well answered is, how does God take care of us. Faith builds that relationship. Faith answers that question and it's hard to come up with a concrete visual example for a small child. You did a wonderful job.

I love the saying---Anyone can count the seeds in a apple, but only God can count the apples in one seed. To teach a child to reason and nurture their ability to imagine the unknown---use the apple as an example to them. Teach them the process of how a seed grows to be another fruit producing plant---how many seeds will come from that harvest to go on and produce more seeds. Tell them that is how big God is--he is all knowing.

Nicole Seitz said...

Anna,
I think I'll be using your apple example at some point in the near future!
Thanks for chiming in. I love it when I learn from my readers.
Nicole

Carol said...

What a beautiful post. I have had God spell out things to me, too. In fact, my name is spelled out in the marble of my shower. I know, it's weird, but my husband, too, agrees that the swirls of the marble pattern spell out "carol" right about my eye level.

I often use shower time as quiet time to speak to God and try to listen to Him, and the first time I noticed it, I felt like He was telling me that I was right where I belonged... even my name was written in the place! We've been in the house for over 10 years now, and I still feel great comfort from seeing it there. God is definitely in the details.

Nicole Seitz said...

Wow, Carol. You're in the right place. I love that example. Thank you so much for sharing it!
Nicole