Living Spiritually as an Art: Counting on God

True epiphanies are rare. I’m not talking about instants of sudden inspiration or “aha moments.” Those are rare enough.

I’m talking about those times that the dictionary describes as “a manifestation of a divine or supernatural being,” those scarce times when God breaks through.

My first epiphany of the sacred kind came in 1972. It came like a meteor knocking me out of a degenerating orbit and into the path of redemption. As Phil Keaggy sang back then, God’s “love broke through.” That meteor saved my life.

I can count the other meteors on one hand.

Counting God’s Presence

But are those life shattering moments the only times we can count God’s presence? As if living spiritually is all mountain tops and glowing sunsets.

The late Guy Chase didn’t think so. Chase, a renowned artist, carried a piece of shirt cardboard and an India ink pen in his back pocket and every time he sensed God’s presence he yanked out the pen and placed a dot on the cardboard. He finally considered the strange piece of art finished after he had recorded 40,000 mini-epiphanies.

In the course of 2012 being the Year of Living Spiritually, I’ve tried similar experiments to heighten my ability to see God in the ordinary.

Living Spiritually is an Art

What I’ve come to realize, besides how difficult it is to intentionally see God in daily life, is that living spiritually is more of an art than it is a science. Guy Chase seemed to know that. While I try to record my encounters with God in words and pictures (which are also art) and ideas, Chase counted them in artistic dots that, when taken as a whole, look to me like a doorway into some unknown and adventurous place. Chase’s art calls me into a new daily adventure of seeking God.

Chase’s art has also shown me that artistically representing something mysterious, such as an encounter with God, can often better capture those encounters rather than trying to define them precisely. Seeing living spiritually as an art gives God room to move and show up in my life. Not that we should’t try to articulate and define our experiences with God. It’s simply that God is more than we can count.

40,000 versus Infinity

Still I try. But I find I can’t count 40,000 of anything much less 40,000 times I’ve felt God present. In reality, even that number would pale to the truth of God’s omnipresence. There is not a cardboard big enough to record God’s continual caress of our lives.

As I scan Chase’s dots, I can only imagine how alive Guy Chase must have been during his art project. How he must have grown and changed, knowing he was never alone. And I realize how I long to hear just one or two of the things Chase saw and learned as he marked dots on his cardboard. How I yearn to live with such intensity and awareness.

Yet, as day 135 of the Year of Living Spiritually opens, I have noticed a laxness in my counting God’s presence. My daily journal entries have shortened, as has my God-attention span.

Chase must have grown tired too. But the final truth in his untitled, and now lost work of art, is that God does not grow tired of investing every molecule of life with his presence. You can count on that.

Eugene C. Scott can count to ten without using his fingers. Beyond that?  He is also very honored to count you as a reader and would love to hear about how you count God’s presence in your life. You can join the Living Spiritually community by following that blog and clicking here and liking the page. He is also co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church.

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5 responses to “Living Spiritually as an Art: Counting on God

  1. Love this statement: “There is not a cardboard big enough to record God’s continual caress of our lives.” I wrote about a great epiphany regarding healing after a ski accident. But, when I am able to journal and just sit and listen to Him, I find so many ways that He is present even in the little things. I sometimes wish we could “get away” more from the many distractions day to day work life and materialism can bring. I remember as a kid, living in a small town, I could go and lay down in the grass and look up and see SO many stars. It was amazing! Now, living in a big city, with a few more lights, it is hard for me to see as many. So, for me, it is about getting away from distractions so I can see more of His beauty, creation and presence all around me. Great post, Eugene! Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks, Tammy. I remember those starry days in my back yard too. Simplicity is a spiritual discipline.

      • Georgie-ann

        Oh, yes, Eugene,… think about it,… if we’re “smart enough” to avoid being caught in waters that would overcome or obviously drown us, why aren’t we “smart enough” to avoid being caught up in the other “floods” of data and distractions that DO drown out God’s universal voice to us?,…

        “Simplicity” has to be “of the essence” of our “best walk” with God,… And considering all the hoop-la and concern about the world’s emerging/growing “population vs resources problems”, learning to desire to “live simply” could also become a contributing blessing in the overall need to share the earthly benefits that all will be needing to survive,… “greed” and “self-focus” and “perpetual personal accumulation” are counter-productive to spiritual well-being,… but we are so compulsively (and fearfully) inclined in these ways,…

  2. Georgie-ann

    “What I’ve come to realize, besides how difficult it is to intentionally see God in daily life, is that living spiritually is more of an art than it is a science.”

    When I first realized that “love” is an “energy” rather than a “thing,” my whole way of viewing life began to change. We can locate and claim and possess “things” (or at least try to),… but “energy”? — that’s a whole different ball game,…

    You can’t really “nail down” energy,… you can try to contain and localize some of it (as in a fireplace),… or direct its path (as in electric),… or personally “control” some (as in anger),… but such efforts don’t even begin to interface with the whole reality and totality of the flood of energy that surrounds and permeates us,…

    We live in a vast sea of energy,… and many energies of different kinds,… but who can doubt the source of all energy and Life, is God, Himself,… and what He has created, He fills,… just breathing is “naturally” also spiritual, whether we realize it “consciously” or not,…

    In the end, living and walking humbly before our God, need we ask for more than these common, everyday 24/7 evidences of His Life within us?, when we “know” He really is there?… The warmth and consistency of our beating hearts, speaks personally with each beat, to each and everyone, of God’s personal love that flows through His creation,… In our simplest mode, — living, breathing, feeling, surviving — we belong to Him,… Relaxing “in Him” may be the key to more “experiencing” of Him,…

    “Slow down, you’re moving too fast”,… the song goes,… or “Stop and smell the roses”,… is perennial wisdom for the tiring striving human vessel,…

    One of my nephews was simply uncanny,… even as a tiny infant, he could sense (apparently) when someone (me) was about to attempt to catch a cute expression on his face by “taking a picture”,… even from far away,… even moving very slowly and carefully,… invariably, he would simply and quickly turn the back of his head to the camera, look away,… It “had” to be an energy thing,… something he felt or noticed out of the corner of his very sensitive little eye,… (like a sparrow!),…

    I feel that looking for God “intentionally” can be a lot like that,… somehow He manages to evade us,… or is it that our personal attention is simply too narrowly and concentratedly, (and maybe even egotistically), focused to be able to “take Him in”?,… do our directed efforts become more like arrows than the divine receivers He wishes for us to become?,…

    When God knows we really really “need” the special close exceptional personal touch or “breakthrough” or visitation, He is very likely to “surprise” us with something we haven’t exactly expected, as far as form, timing, or presentation,… after all, He’s God, the Master Director, not us,… all our scientific principles — (“if I do this, then that will automatically happen”) — can do nothing for us in the “God Realm”,… His World and Will do not work like that at all,… “man proposes, God disposes”,… another perennial wisdom bit!,…

    I think that basically God sees all Life as a vast field of energy and created and creative possibilities,… He has invited us to join with Him in “the Eternal Dance”,… He has laid everything out before us, and desires our full participation,… My neighbor is a “sign” to me from God,… He desires all of His Creation to work together harmoniously, each joint supplying to and blessing the other,… When we say “yes” to joining Life’s flow, to contributing willingly and freely to one another’s well-being, we are saying “yes” to God, and to Love,… and I believe God is pleased that we accept to experience Him in this way,… and — (given the spiritual warfare that is more or less automatic with the gratuitous “static” that also comes along with life) — we are living spiritually, when we “see God” in one another, and purpose our hearts to serve God in one another,…

    2 Samuel 6:14 “And David danced before the Lord with all his might…”

    Jeremiah 31:13 “Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, And the young men and the old, together; For I will turn their mourning to joy, Will comfort them, And make them rejoice rather than sorrow.”

    Ephesians 4:16 “…from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

    John 20:29 “Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”

    Believing in the Lord and loving the brethren, is blessed and spiritual,… God is Love,… the supernatural dynamics are more His playing field than ours,… to remain humble and in awe is also spiritual,… dancing is art,… (-:

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