Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Undercover God

It’s odd that in the ordinary tasks of life God has a way of teaching me about him. 

A while back I was filling up my car at a local gas station when I saw an employee emptying out the trash cans by the pumps.  She was on the other side of the pump I was using, and I noticed her struggling to get the liner out of the trash can.  I reached over and gently held down the trash can to help out.  With just that little assistance she was able to get the bag out and go about her work. 

I expected a “thank you” but there was none.  Then I realized that she had never seen what I had done.  The trash bag she was lifting was blocking her view.  Besides that, I was partially hidden behind a pillar, so she never knew I helped! I guess she just figured that somehow, someway she managed to pull the bag out all by herself.  She didn’t thank me because she didn’t know that I helped. I was tempted to say something but decided the best thing to do was to remain anonymous.

I chalked it up as my “good deed of the day” and then it struck me.  How many times in my life has God helped me and I didn’t thank him?  How many times has God offered a little hand to assist me but remained anonymous? Does God do things like that?  Does God help us out ever so slightly that we don’t even notice?

Of course, there can be no definitive answer to those questions, because if God remains anonymous then how would we know?  Yet, I suspect that He does.  Looking back on my life I can see some curious times when in retrospect I suspect God was at work -- events that at the time I thought were mere coincidences or maybe even incidents that I attributed to my own strength or cunning that lead to a favorable outcome.  Maybe God was reaching around offering that ever so slight hand of assistance to help me out. Maybe there are some times in life when God acts yet remains anonymous.

The first book of the Bible, Genesis, tells a story of a man named Joseph (he of the technicolor dream-coat) whose life has more twists and turns than a downhill slalom. Eventually he ends up in a very favorable position yet all the events that led to that outcome could easily be attributed to coincidence or the normal events of life.  Yet, at the end of the story he credits his good fortune to the hand of God. In a meeting with his devious and betraying brothers who brought a good deal of grief into his life he says this: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good” (Genesis 50:20).  Joseph sensed God’s anonymous hand at work throughout his life.
That little experience at the gas station got me thinking that maybe God is helping me in ways I’ll never know.   It’s reminded me to thank God not just for his obvious and discernable help but for all those times he lends a gentle hand without fanfare.
Albert Einstein is credited with saying, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” Maybe with watchful and attentive eyes we can catch God every once in a while.  At the very least, we can give him thanks for those times when he works undercover.