Tangible Moments With God
Sometimes “devotional” time is hard for me. I long for the concrete. I want to relate to God like I relate to friends. Even though I’m not a huggy kind of person with friends, I want to hug God. I want to curl up in his lap and chat with him.
But I can’t do any of that. God is very, very real, but he’s also intangible. I can talk to him, but I can’t look into his eyes while I do. I can listen, but he doesn’t usually speak as clearly as a friend. Sometimes I think I hear him, but I’m not even sure if it’s him, or my deceptive heart. I can curl up, but it will be on my couch…not on his lap.
That’s why I try to create tangible projects based on my time with God.
I may not be able to reach out and touch him, but I do have a physical representation that reminds me of how he’s speaking into my life through his Word.
In college, there was a place I would go with my deepest prayers written on a piece of paper. There was a cross in this place, and I would drop my prayers there at the foot of the cross. After college, a pond became a symbol of redemption for me, and I’d write my prayers on rocks and toss them into the pond. When I didn’t have either of those options, I covered a cardboard box so I couldn’t open it back up, cut a slit in the top, and put my prayers in there. All of these places reminded me that I was giving these things over to God. I couldn’t get those prayers back, so I couldn’t hold on to my worries and fears.
I’m not a super artsy person. I can’t paint beautiful pictures or play the piano. (Or sing…or play any instrument…) But I do enjoy simple crafts, so I’ve found ways to introduce that into my time with God.
Like when I read Psalm 139 and realized it had a lot to say about how God sees me. I wanted to see myself that way, too. So I got a small hand mirror and wrote, “I am…” on it. Then I filled it in with insights from Psalm 139.
I am seen.
I am understood.
I am heard.
I am never alone.
I am wonderfully made.
Now, when I look in that mirror, I see these phrases over my face. Words that remind me of the way God sees me. And it changes the way I see him.
Sometimes I pick out one word—just one—that stands out to me from my Bible reading. I write the word and decorate it as pretty as I can, with my limited art skills. Then all day, that’s my word to focus on. Stressful meeting? Grace. Looming deadline? Grace. Total rewrite of a lesson I loved? Grace. Hurtful words spoken to me? Grace. Want to speak hurtful words to someone else? Grace, grace, grace.
Even though that’s not totally tangible (other than my illustration of the word), it gives me a framework to remember God in my day.
It helps me pause and remember that he’s there with me, even though I can’t see him.
If I were more musically inclined (and I really wish I was), I’d like to write my own tunes to Psalms when I read them. But really, it doesn’t matter whether I’m musical or not. This is just between me and God, and it’s all a joyful noise to him.
Sometimes I hang a Bible verse at my desk at work. If I leave it there too long, it fades into the background and I overlook it. So I try to replace it when another verse catches my eye.
Once I took a shower with clothes on. All black clothes, as I reflected on a passage about God cleaning away my sin. It was a time of powerful confession and tears as I stood there in sopping wet, dark clothes, and thought about the sopping wet sin staining my own life. When I was done, I changed into all white clothes and thanked God for his forgiveness.
I’ve used little dollhouse figures and a tiny shelf to make a miniature Psalm 23. I’ve made a heart out of playdough, with a rock inside to remind me not to have a hard heart underneath my shell of Christianity.
I could go on. God is constantly giving me new ideas of how to experience him in physical ways. And each time he does, I have a new way to see God concretely.