On a mountain trek into the back country, I asked teens to keep their eyes out for God. Along the trail each was tasked with watching for how they saw God in the wilderness or our experiences. Each night I would remind them to be looking and ready to share on our last night.
On the last day we were at a high mountain peak. It was late August in northern Idaho. We were at a crystal clear lake. We took a short hike out of camp up to where there was still frozen snow in the shadow of the rocks. Nestled in those cliffs was a glacial spring from which flowed pure water to fill the lake below. On the entire trek, one boy had confided in me that he hadn’t found a parable. He was afraid he would have no observations to share about how he saw God or anything that reminded him of the Kingdom of God.
On that night he said something like this. “I finally got my parable today. Up at the top of that spring, there is snow that hasn’t melted all summer. In a couple weeks the snow will start falling again and some of that snow will be buried and frozen until next spring. Sitting here on the mountain isn’t the purpose for snow like that. It’s supposed to melt to jumpstart the spring to nourish plants and animals throughout the summer into the fall until the cycle starts all over again. That frozen snow, still sitting up there, isn’t fulfilling its purpose. I wonder if some people in our church are like that? How many of us are just sitting in the pews every Sunday soaking up the message or the songs and never really getting up and out into the world to share what we have learned to nourish others and fulfill our purpose? We weren’t meant to just sit in the pews.”
That was more than thirty years ago. I have never forgotten that parable. Fast forward to San Felipe mission trips in the heat of Baja, Mexico and you have a vastly different scenario. Still I used the same technique over and over, asking teens to watch for God throughout the week and share a parable of the Kingdom on our last night. A foreign exchange student from Germany was with us. He was bright, funny and worked as hard as anyone else, but I wasn’t sure where he was with faith or God. On the last night, I was ready to cut him some slack so that he would not have to force out a parable if he wasn’t in the place to do that. He told me he was ready. When it came his turn he said something like this. “All week it has been so hot and the work has been so hard. Every time I thought I had reached my limit I would go to the water cooler to get a drink or take a break. Each time I would look at the cooler and be refreshed, because the brand name of the cooler is GOTT. In German, that is God. Somewhere along the way this week I realized that it is not just water that refreshes us in this work for a family living in poverty. This cooler is a true parable for God‘s refreshment given to us in the midst of hard work and love for others.”
Have you opened your eyes this week? When was the last time you saw God?