A few months ago I was working on my ministry plan. This is a personal document that I keep and use when in discussion with friends and colleagues that I note questions and concerns to discuss and get insight from. Interestingly, as I was writing I looked down and saw an Indistinguishable blur on the concrete. I did not know if my eyes were fooling me, or what was going on, so I got down on my hands and knees, getting really close, and saw that the blur was actually a moth that happened to be camouflaged to match the concrete. Surprisingly, the thing did not move, I though it might be dead but with close inspection you could see the slightest movement every now and again. I watched it for far too long and was amazed at how easily it blended in and how easy it would have been to crush it and not know the difference.
A few days ago, after another sleepless night worried about this and that I prayed, in my typical conversation with God, wondering what God was up to in my life and where the church was called to be and go. All of a sudden this image popped in my head. I dug out the picture of the moth and stared in awe as I looked in wonder at it. I started to think of it in terms of God and how God is there even when you do not see. But that seemed to miss something.
You see the moth was ugly in many ways, heck, it was the color of concrete, but when I got closer I marveled at the realization that it in fact was not the color of the concrete! It was light grey with leopard spots! It was so much more then what my eyes initially said it was.
Sitting in my conversation with God I realized that I was so busy with this and that I was having a hard time seeing God, even though I know God is here. It was interesting when I pulled out the scripture for the 10:30 service and saw that it was from Haggai about the impatience of the Hebrews had towards the rebuilding of the temple, 60 years!!! And it still had so much more work. The collective depression of that community made the community resigned and, if taking Haggai’s Sermons into account, unwilling to continue to work towards its reconstruction. So Haggai comes on the scene to give a midway pep-talk reminding the people that not only had God not abandoned them but there was an even greater glory that would come when the Temple was rebuilt!!!
Though we can be assured that even though he said that God was there and pointed to God many times, people still doubted, many still felt lost and could not see the work that God had already been up to. In fact, from the stories and other writings, we see that many people were just giving up. Can you blame them? They poured tons of effort and saw no progress; moreover, they could not see God!
But you see that is the interesting part! Why couldn’t they see God? Because they were focused not on what God was doing, but what they perceived God not to be doing. Their awareness was purely on their needs.
Often when I have problems seeing God, I recognize that I am often in a place where I am overly focused on things that are earthly: making people happy, getting everything done, getting caught up, dealing with this and that, among other things. All of this makes it easy not to take the time to look and see that God is where God has always been, all around me.
It is interesting how once I saw the moth, I could not help but see it again and again. In fact, every time I walked past that spot the first thing I looked for was that moth and in its own way it gave me great joy. The same thing is true for God. Yes, there are times that I strain to see Him or forget to look, but when I do, I am comforted knowing that I am not alone. Knowing that even in the times when it hard to see, God is there.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen