Manifestation of God

January 11, 2011 by · 16 Comments
Filed under: Candidate Process, Religion 

In the Christian world, we are now in the season of Epiphany.  It starts January 6th (the day of Epiphany) and ends Ash Wednesday.  In Greek, the word that “epiphany” is derived from means “manifestation, shining forth, revelation or appearance”.  It’s a dual-use term – both meaning a time that the invisible God appears and a sudden realization of the larger essence or meaning of something.  It’s the “aha” moment and/or a moment of the presence of God, perhaps at the same time.

My story of vocational discernment and the winding path of the last 25 or so years includes a few instances where I am hard pressed to explain something without God’s involvement.  In one case I had a vision during a worship service at a youth conference.  In another case I had a dream with a strong message.  Ultimately these events led me to make the decision that the ministry is my likely future.  I start at Princeton Seminary in the summer or fall.

Last January there were several events that happened at a critical point in this journey.  One day I went to a job fair and found myself trying to reconnect with a seminary.  Another day a friend had coffee with me on a very rainy morning when I was feeling very off-kilter, and gave me advice that led to the heavy-duty discernment that followed.  And on another January day (before the other two, I think) something else happened.  Something else I haven’t written about on this blog yet.

I’d been praying to God for direction.  I’d been lamenting God’s absence from my life, God’s refusal to answer my prayers.  I felt that God had decided to ignore me.  To make my job layoff happen and then leave me hanging.  To call me to the church, back to the church, and to heavy church volunteering, but still to leave me wondering about whether the church should be my future.  I felt alone and that God was not present.

In the mornings at our house, our routine has been set for years – caused by jobs.  (And we still do this, even though I really don’t need to get up at a specific time.)  My wife gets up at 6am and gets into the shower, then comes back out and crawls back in bed until it’s time for me to get up at 6:30am.  Then we get up and feed the cat and do the rest of the morning things.  That time between 6 and 6:30 has become a time of drowsy wakefulness where I’m somewhere between dead to the world and fully awake and waiting for 6:30am (different levels of consciousness on different days).

On this particular day, Carolyn was in the shower.  I was lying in bed face up.  I suddenly had the feeling that I was standing next to the bed.  And that God was next to me.  I had a sense of an orange fog being next to me (orange being VERY clear) and knowing that it was God.  And that two things were happening at the same time.

One impression I had was that God was standing next to me, facing in the same direction as me, and was otherwise quiet.  Just standing there at my side (left side for some reason) facing the world with me.  And throughout this experience I had a sense of eerie calm – that all was well with the world.  I’d felt that sensation once before during the vision mentioned above.

At the same time I also had another impression.  I was facing the world.  God was standing beside me facing me, yelling at the top of God’s lungs, and gesturing wildly.  And I wasn’t hearing or seeing it at all.

And then I was awake, still lying in bed, Carolyn still in the shower.  And the sense of calm and all is well and God is with me remained.  When Carolyn came out of the shower, I told her all about it.

It came at a time that I needed to know that God was with me.  The imagery of God trying to tell me something and me not getting it at all was also clear.  And it set me up for other events later that week and month that have set me on my road to a second career.

I usually experience God’s presence through others.  A friend at lunch or coffee.  A youth in youth group.  A stranger being helped.  Someone who tells you how much you’ve helped them and you can’t really figure out what you did.  A thank you for your hard work.  The whole congregation during a particularly moving worship service.

But once in a while (more often than I deserve), God shows up for me in a very personal way.

A private, quiet, Manifestation of God.  An Epiphany, which prepared me for other epiphanies to come.

Thanks be to God.

This blog entry is part of a synchroblog.  Here are other blogs that are taking part:

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Beth Patterson – A Robust Universe Includes The Botched and Bungled

Jeff Goins – The Manifestation Of God

Jeremy Myers – Pagan Prophecies Of Christ

Minnow – When God Shows Up

Alan Knox – A Day I Saw Jesus

Ellen Haroutunian – Stories of Epiphany

Liz Dyer – God Breaking Through Moments

Kathy Escobar – orphans

Josh Morgan – The Manifestation Of God

Steve Hayes – Theophany: the manifestation of God

Sarah Bessey – In which Annie opens the door of her heart

Christine Sine – Eve of Epiphany – We Have Come, We Have Seen, Now We Must Follow

Tammy Carter – Blessing The Beloved

Katherine Gunn – Who Is God