by Manuel Luz, Creative Arts Pastor
I was talking to someone recently about the evidences of God. No, not the vast creation/cosmological evidences, and not the theological/philosophical proofs. I mean the small evidences that show up in the often mundane and trivial moments of being, where He quitely shows up and reminds us that He is still God With Us. Because if God really is who He says He is, if we really believe in an Almighty and Ever-Present Triune Godhead, then the evidences of God should be frequent and normative and all around us.
So I thought I would share some “God Sightings” from the last few months of worship services. I hope to remind us that our God is the ever-active, ever-pursuing, ever-involved One who moves dynamically in and through our lives, and pours out great love and grace to us all.
God Sighting 1: God In Our Art
We were busy in the midst of the Sunday morning pre-service rush, working through the logistics of rehearsal and run-through, and I hadn’t had any time to check in with our worship painter for that morning, Mary Fong. After run-through, I decided to pull Mary aside and check in with her to make sure that she was settled with her paints, easel, drop cloth, and brushes, as well as find out how she was doing personally. She shared that she was somewhat nervous and was still unsettled about what she was going to paint. As is my custom, I lay hands on her and we prayed together.
She told me later that an overwhelming calm came over her at the moment, and she had a sudden and focused clarity of vision beyond the blank canvas that stared back at her. The result was the piece shown above. To paraphrase her explanation, the jagged pieces signifies God putting back together the chaos which comes over our lives.
God Sighting 2: God In Our Grieving
As I was preparing for an upcoming service, singing and praying over the songs in order, I was struck by the need to change one of the songs in the worship set. Rather than “At The Cross of Calvary,” which is a modern hymn and one of our congregational favorites, I felt the need to change the song to the old hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” It was a little unusual as the hymn isn’t necessarily one I select often, and it didn’t flow as smoothly in the service. But I felt led to make the change, and didn’t think about it again until Sunday morning.
That morning, I told everyone of the change, and passed out music to a somewhat disappointed Worship Team. (I had to promise them I would bring back “At The Cross” later, as evidenced below.) But as usual, we went through the rehearsal, run-through, and both services with the song.
After the second service, Michael and Sarah Jackson approached me. Michael and Sarah are missionaries to India, working with the Foreign Mission Foundation, and they were visiting us that Sunday. Sarah explained to me that her father, the patriarch of her family, had just passed away this past week, and they were quite burdened by their sorrow. Then she explained that “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” was her family’s theme song, and they played it and sung it together all the time. She explained that the song came at just the right time—like a message from God.
I asked her when her father had passed away, and she explained that they had just heard the news on Friday, the day he passed. That’s when I felt a little shiver. Friday was the day I was playing through the music, the day I felt moved to change the worship set to include “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”
God Sighting 3: God In Our Song
During my time teaching and leading worship in the Philippines in June, I asked Henway Fong and Michaela Nasello to lead worship. Henway, in particular, provided steady and vertically-focused guidance to the worship during the three Sundays of my absence for which I was extremely grateful.
One moment in particular was Michaela leading a stripped-down worship team in a solo of “Oceans” which I have been told fell deeply upon the congregation. There was something quite Spirit-breathed in how she shared the song which moved people beyond mere virtuosity. God was working deeply in people during that song.
God Sighting 4: God In Communion
The following was shared to me by Dave Harbert. He tells this story well:
“There’s something very special about the hymn, “At the Cross of Calvary.” It’s hard to explain—which may be why we simply label it “A God thing.” Sure the author, Jim Heinze, is a friend of Oak Hills. Yes, we just found out his wife is battling cancer. And true, Teresa (ed: his wife) always reminds me she wants that song sung at her funeral. But those things don’t explain what happened last Sunday when we ended the service singing it during communion.
“I was moved so powerfully during the song that I had chills running up and down my spine. The words, the music, the harmonies, the Spirit all blended into “a moment.” After the song ended and the benediction was delivered, I turned to Amy, who was leading worship beside me, to share our usual after-service hug only to note that tears were not only streaming down my face, but hers as well! We were part of something bigger than the two of us. Later I found out that Teresa, who was our sound tech that morning, had to have the Kleenex box moved next to her because she was sobbing through the song. She struggled to keep it together enough to focus her attention on finishing the service.
“Thank you Holy Spirit for helping Jim Heinze write that song, for moving through your church and for stirring us from the inside out.”
What Is Your God Sighting?
We do indeed live in a God-breathed world, where the Kingdom is alive with the hallelujah of His creation. We need only squint a bit, and focus ourselves out of the self-centered myopia to see it.
Do you have a God sighting? Please feel free to share it with me at manuel.luz@Oakhills.org. Thanks!