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God ahead of us

Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go over to this chariot and join it." So Philip ran up to it and heard [the Ethiopian] reading the prophet Isaiah. Acts 8:29-30a

Dear Friends in Christ,


We often forget one of the ways in which God works. If we were to be more aware, however, I think we would be amazed at what we would find.


When we think about serving God, often our focus is on ourselves. Some people seem to think God has no agency in the world unless we act (this is where “God has no hands and feet but yours” has taken people off track). Even among those who believe that God does act in the world beyond human agency, we tend to think only of what God is doing in the moment in which we play a role.


For instance, we might find ourselves in a conversation with someone and the talk turns to questions about God and belief. In that moment, we often feel as if we have to have all the right answers and solve all problems. Some people think we should not give any answers—that’s a perhaps a worse response. What we often miss, however, is how God has already been at work in that person’s life, and will be at work in their lives long after our conversation is done. We don’t have to solve every mystery, but we can be part of what God is doing in that person’s life.


Whether it is a close friend or a total stranger, God can bless others through us as part of a larger outreach to them that we know nothing about. God is already ahead of us, forming and shaping them and us, calling to them and us through hundreds of scraps of conversations, experiences, and insights gathering in prayer, all stirred up by the crucible of hardship and change and new questions.


What if we carried all that God has shaped in us, and opened our curiosity to what God is doing in others? We might not have “all the answers,” but we can play a small but important role in God’s outreach to that person. Even our good questions can help someone else think and pray in a new way.


What would it be like to remember that God is way ahead of us in the lives of other people? Wouldn’t it be great to find out even the bits and pieces of what God is doing with them? We might play a role in their discovery of God’s presence and power. We might even learn to recognize what God is doing in us too, as God works through many others over time.


God loves a mystery, and God loves our discovery too. Let’s go see what God is doing in the lives of friend and stranger.


Christ be with me, Christ within me,

Christ behind me, Christ before me,

Christ beside me, Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort and restore me,


Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,

Christ in hearts of all that love me,

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.


(stanza 6 of St. Patrick’s Breastplate, Hymn 370, Hymnal 1982)


Yours in Christ,




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