Finding God in the Margins
How exactly do I anticipate God will present himself to me today?
I guess that seems to be a cute or rhetorical sort of question – one that would probably make a good bumper sticker to read over whenever I am stuck in traffic behind someone who’s driving habits may not be as refined as mine (Read: the rest of the world!).
But, I am posing this question in the most serious sense… Just how exactly do I anticipate God will present himself to me today?
I mean the universe is vast; the world so large. There is an immense number of heads to be counted – at latest look as I type, there are 7,275,245,890 and counting on some sort of a Worldometer. Seriously – in the 24 hours since I started writing this, the world increased by more than 107,000 souls! Those numbers include you and me, and everyone that each of us knows, and everybody that each of them knows and so on.
But for the most part, we fulfill roles that have miniscule impact upon the larger world. We know there are recent exceptions to that rule – including people ranging from despotic tyrants, responsive Presidents, and creative inventors to sitting Popes, and so on. More typically our daily life efforts seemingly make only the smallest ripples in such a huge pond of humanity. As a result, we have become so prone to ask, “What relevant difference do or can I make”?
The late Mother Theresa is probably the closest thing we all can acknowledge who was “a living saint”. Even those who no longer believe in God’s existence cannot deny the goodness she epitomized or the strength of her simple but caring example. Facebook is full of her quotes like “Do simple things with great love.” or “People can be mean… love them anyway.” She was not wealthy, nor did she present in a stately manner. In fact, without studying her life more closely, I have no evidence she could have filled those secular roles our society values such as entertaining crowds who gathered for her singing or even making a basketball shot from 15 feet away from a hoop.
Rather, all she seemed to be able to do was to live to serve those living on the margins, those whom the rest of the world refused to recognize for their inherent humanity. She lived in such a simple manner that defies modern culture; and I would suggest her life was relevant – as were all the lives of those persons she chose to acknowledge and serve as well.
So can we assume God chose her from the remaining 7 billion plus persons to be more special than any of the rest of us? I think not. In fact, I think God created us each individually to be just as special and relevant as Mother Theresa.
I do not write that in some arrogant or comparative sense. I just believe God has great plans for each of us. I think we may seem to be all wrapped up in all the details of our confusing lives, and that God expects each of us to do the work of unwrapping ourselves, exploring our talents, and determining His plan how to use those simple gifts in extraordinary ways! We are each that important.
If I can come to truly believe this and embrace myself as being just as special as each of you and the other 7,275,245,890 souls that He also created in a purposeful manner, then I can become open to discovering God’s dignity and love within each person I may meet today and tomorrow.
Like an ant working upon a peony in early June, I can work to become a loving and guiding catalyst for another person who may also become open to the wonders of faith, possibility and hope. Maybe my supportive presence can encourage another to bloom brightly within God’s great plan as well. Or they could be resistant – and I can do no more than to reflect the message to them that “God loves you regardless”. In either case, I have to be present on their margins.
God does exist within each person I encounter. By default, I then become relevant whenever I seek Him within them. Just open my eyes and serve others … and I will indeed see how God intends to present Himself to me today!