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Finding God in Unexpected Ways

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The dog throws her tiny head back, catching the scent of something in the wind. 

I sit in the driveway in an old, weathered burgundy fold-out chair, laptop cradled in my lap, books at my feet. Like the dog, I’m also enjoying the breeze and the way it mingles with the leaves of the tree in our front yard creating a sort of early morning summer melody. 

The birds are awake, singing songs and perching high up on slanted rooftops. 

I wonder for a second what they could be saying to each other. 

When I came downstairs this Saturday morning, I planned to fall into my usual morning rhythm. Heat up the water, pour the tea, grab the books and the blanket, get comfortable on the couch, and start my devotional time. 

But what I didn’t account for was the anxiety I had been feeling this week. The awful way it landed heavily on my chest making me feel trapped and restless. 

Come & Walk With Me

I shifted uncomfortably on the couch, reaching for my phone because maybe this time social media would be a proper escape. 

It never is though, and I felt the ache of longing and lack settle deep into my bones with each scroll of my thumb. 

I put my phone down and sighed deeply, rubbing my forehead.

That’s when it came – He came – softly, gently, causing me to lean in and listen intently. 

“Come to me… Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30, MSG)

There was the invitation, “Walk with me”.

I could remain where I was, bound to my routine, feeling stuck, helpless, and anxious. Or, I could throw my hair up into a messy bun, put on my walking shoes, and put tired feet to pavement. 

I glanced at the time on my phone and it read 8 am. My mind made up, I ran upstairs to change my clothes, threw my hair up, transferred my tea into a travel mug, and slipped on my tennis shoes. 

As soon as the garage door lifted, I knew I had made the right choice. The morning was beautiful, inviting me into the day with a cool breeze and clear blue skies. I felt the presence of the Lord with me, beckoning me to walk with Him, to talk with Him. 

And just like that, after five minutes of walking, my prayers bubbled up and out of me like the steady flow of a stream. 

Hands cupping my travel mug, I began to talk to Jesus. I named my anxiety in His presence, the hurts, and the wounds that I was nursing. I told Him my fears and my desire to know what comes next and have some say in the outcome of what I couldn’t yet see. 

Unforced Rhythms of Grace

The more I walked with Jesus, the lighter my soul grew. I understood in that moment that this is what it means to walk in step with the Spirit’s unforced rhythms of grace

To be unforced means to produce without effort; not compelled or constrained, but natural.

This rhythm of walking with and talking to Jesus felt like the most natural thing I had done all week. My dissipating anxiety was loud proof of that. 

And that’s because this is what I was created for. I was created to walk in step with Jesus – my Creator – His tender love filling in every empty crevice within my wandering heart. 

This morning, my routine felt forced. The books, my journal, and the unopened Bible on my coffee table felt like constraints. I’m learning through this experience that sometimes, what I know and what I’m comfortable with aren’t always what my soul is needing. 

Sometimes the good rhythms and routines of our daily lives can go from life-giving to life-draining. 

And instead of growing scared or frustrated that a rhythm is no longer working, maybe it’s time to lean in and listen. To take a soul inventory and recognize that even good things sometimes aren’t so good for us in certain seasons of life. 

Sometimes, Finding God Means Breaking Routine

I believe that God wants to be found by us, and that truth is reiterated in Jeremiah 29:12-14, “In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” (NLT)

Sometimes, finding God means breaking routine and looking for Him in new ways and in new experiences. 

As I walked this morning with the Lord, I found Him in the stillness of quiet neighborhood streets. As soon as I began talking to Him, I felt His presence right beside me. I felt His love calming the turmoil beneath my chest and I felt the joy He had walking with me

To find God, we must look for Him wholeheartedly; with complete sincerity, commitment, and intentionality. That wholehearted searching for God looks at times like taking a walk around the neighborhood instead of picking up your devotional books. It looks like going for a drive around town while you blast worship music, one hand lifted while the other steers the car. It looks like stopping to talk to a stranger who looks lonely and in need of a little God-love. 

When we remain rooted in our routines, we can miss out on the miracle of the Holy Spirit’s movement in our lives. 

I experienced this on a bigger scale on our recent trip to Portland, Maine. I had packed my journal, my Bible, and my books with the intention of waking up every morning and sitting down to have my quiet time. Some mornings, I did do just that. 

But other mornings, I walked the streets of Portland to get coffee with my husband. 

I sat on a giant hill drinking in the breathtaking view of Casco Bay that only God could’ve painted with His own two hands. 

I sat in a kayak on the ocean, letting the saltwater waves carry me forward as I beheld God’s glory in the seals that were bobbing their heads up out of the water mere feet from me.

I goggled at lighthouses, shared laughter over meals with my love, and intentionally chose to look for God in as many Maine moments as I could. 

Quiet time in Maine didn’t look like it usually does for me. But I will tell you that I experienced a closeness so surreal with the Lord that it could only be real; The truest, most real thing I’ve ever experienced. 

I connected with Him in every saltwater wave, every paddle of the kayak, every sunset and sunrise I could gaze my eyes on, and all the moments in between. 

God invites us to find Him, He invites us to live our lives in step with His unforced rhythms of grace, beholding Him not only in our devotional times but right in the middle of our everyday lives. And sometimes, everyday life demands we break the routines that can become constraints. 

The Peace of Christ

As I walked and talked with Jesus this morning, I mirrored my Maine mentality of letting go and letting God. 

Letting go of my own rhythm, and letting God lead me out into the neighborhood so that I could find and experience His presence in a totally new, different, and very good way. 

Maybe this is what it means to be wholehearted searchers of God; to let go, step outside the lines every once in a while, and trust that God is there and waiting to be found in all that we do. 

I’ve been reading chapter 3 of Colossians this week, and verse 15 comes to me now,

Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]. To this peace indeed you were called as members in one body [of believers]. And be thankful [to God always].” (AMP)

True, lasting, heaven-like peace can only come from walking daily with Jesus. And that saintly peace is purposed to be our compass, our guide, pointing to Jesus and pointing to where He wants us to go. 

My question for you today, friend, is this: Is the peace of Christ leading you? Or is your routine? 

Is the love of God pouring in and out of you or are you too rooted in your own rhythm of striving to notice?

Remaining Rooted

Colossians 2:6-7 is an invitation to remain rooted in the One who calls you sometimes to step outside the lines and trust, “And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” (NLT)

The only person we should ever follow blindly is Jesus and the only thing we should ever follow blindly is His leading love. 

Follow Jesus, and you might just encounter His presence in new, unexpected, breathtakingly beautiful ways. Follow Jesus, remain rooted in Him, and you’ll build a life of freedom and faith; a life overflowing with peace and gratitude. 

That life can begin today, friend. This invitation to listen to the Holy Spirit and His leading extends to you every single moment of every day, and you can choose to accept it. 

Take a walk. Get a coffee. Stop to share love with a stranger. 

Look for God in unexpected places, and you’ll find Him. 

Look for God in new and holy ways and you’ll find your truest self.