One of my favorite television shows was Joan of Arcadia– yes, like Joan of Arc, she saw her own kind of vision. Joan, a teenager, encountered God– a physical form of God– in seemingly everyday people. This form of God challenged her to take some kind of action or risk that eventually resolved a previously unknown dilemma or supported another person on their journey through a particular life event. The refrain of the theme song I can hear now,
What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home
That isn’t even the part I think I want to talk about though or maybe it is. Although God does walk “around in muddy boots, sometimes rags and that’s the truth,” as Carrie Newcomer so eloquently sings.
Joan, in the TV show, did very ordinary everyday things that responded to an ordinary everyday need. This example will no doubt conflate several episodes but you will get the point. “God” was sometimes a custodian changing a light bulb at her school, a child swinging on the playground, or a young man with tattoos, spiked hair, and face piercings that she met on the bus. Sometimes when she was encouraged to “do something” or “pay attention” she wasn’t sure about the what. The point was that she did it; asking the lady who was crying on the bus if she needed some help to end up babysitting for the lady’s terminally ill child so the mother could attend class that evening. And, along with the support she builds an incredible relationship, even in the short term, with a child who caused her to learn more about life from his perspective.
Richard Foster in the introduction to Celebration of Discipline discusses “three empowering catalysts” in his own life. Two he termed “sharp and dramatic encounters” and the third that was “protracted and inconspicuous.” These were amazing stories of events and people that foregrounded those things that come in our lives that are beyond our control yet are what a friend calls “cosmic flirts.” Things that make you consider or know a path or truth for your own life even if you don’t know how to get there yet.
So I guess I’m wondering now where this is going. When I started it seemed to be that I wanted to be a catalyst. And I still do.
However, I’m thinking of the little nudges; casual comments, not so casual expectations, and those hidden thoughts that I am even sometimes afraid to think might be true. It’s so much easier to focus on what could be instead of what I can do in the moment to be. It takes courage and a catalyst to take a step into the dark of the unknown.
Thinking back to Joan…is that how God works?