We ran down into the golden-green valley, ducked out of the rain and trekked back with our sneakers sloshing with water. We couldn’t stop giggling.
The sunshine sparkling in the rain seemed to give us permission. And I felt it: the glory of the One and Only Father, full of grace and truth. I was wrapped up in that glory. It filled me and poured out of me—and I laughed.
The wild grass, the glistening sunlight, the towering firs, the tiny alpine village below, the river burbling with new rain, my dear friend hiking with me—this, all of this, was a conduit to glory, and the glory of the Father shone brightly throughout it. I was with Him here, with Him in the glory.
We hadn’t planned to go hiking. Really, we had no plans for the rest of the afternoon except to eat dinner and spend a few hours enjoying St. Gilgen, a small lakeside near Salzburg, and the verdant green mountains around it. We perched next to each other on the grassy ledge and stared out over the village, the sun dancing in golden specks on the crisp blue lake. A grey cloud loomed in the distance.
We lingered, despite the impending rainstorm, transfixed by the blues, purples and pinks before us.
I was caught up in the with-ness of the moment: the glory and the presence of God was all around us and we were wrapped up in it and it was in us. It was the kind of moment that consumes you, filling up every pore and cell of your being. I could think of nothing else because all of my senses, all of my soul, was filled with glory and awe.
Only later did I realize this with-ness is quite ordinary. These extraordinary moments of being aren’t restricted for hiking in the Alps and the Instagrammable moments of lives—though they feel that way. Most of us believe that sort of heightened joy, peace and contentment is not for the everyday. It’s for the extraordinary, mountaintop moments: births and baptisms, proposals and promotions—the moments that take up more photo space in your phone and Instagram feed than they ought to.
I’ve often heard, “It’s in those rare moments when you feel fully alive.” But why does that have to be a rare moment? Why can’t we live, fully alive to the joy and grief and pain and beauty of everyday? Why can’t we be fully alive shopping at Trader Joe’s? Why don’t we find beauty in every flitting sparrow?
We can. We need to.
He Is Never Far
If the God you experience in a golden rainstorm in the Alps is the same God standing with you as you microwave your coffee, sort laundry and fill up at Chevron (again), does your experience of Him necessarily have to be different?
Paul talks about this kind of with-ness, saying, “Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘in him we live and move and have our being’” (Acts 17:27-28). In every movement, breath and word we are with Him. We are in Him. We are constantly wrapped up in his glory. We think His presence rare because we experience it as such—not because it is, but because we neglect to notice. We have to wake up to it and pray for eyes wide open.
Be alive. Bask in His presence.
It can begin in the quietest, most unsuspecting moments, and suddenly, we are there, in His fullness. It can come in an average Thursday morning, thousands of miles from the Alps, the sunlight casting soft shadows across the blankets as you yank up the covers.
It comes in quiet conversations during a car ride.
It comes during a regular Sunday morning at church, with hands lifted and the body of Christ gathered.
It comes in a steamy cup of chai, an unexpected letter in the mailbox, a warm shower at the end of a long day, a glance, a touch, a smile.
We can bring grace. We can live grace.
Seek the extraordinary in the moments that seem extra ordinary. You may be surprised by when it finds you. You can’t always name it. Sometimes it envelops your whole being; other times it passes as quickly as it comes and only leaves a lingering peace, presence and joy.
Whatever you do, don’t stop seeking the extraordinary. We are called to it, and we are able to be caught up in the presence and holiness of God in profoundly changing ways. But we don’t have to run to the Alps to find it. It is right here, wherever ‘right here’ is for us.
He is here.
Seek Him and be found.