If you don’t know what I mean by “God moment” that doesn’t mean you’ve never had one.
I define a “God moment” as a moment when God reveals Himself to us through Creation…and that’s not necessarily limited to nature. Creation includes anything created: other people, art, words spoken.
A God moment can be a single moment, or a pattern that emerges. It usually takes us by surprise, and breaks what we believe to be routine, logical, or “normal.”
A God moment is a moment when we realize how much He cares about the details of our lives. It’s a moment of grace and a glimpse into the divine, even in the mundane.
Here are 7 God moments I experienced in 2017:
1. “Want to come to Europe with us?” [March]
I had been dreaming of taking a trip to Europe sometime in 2017—specifically to the UK and to France—when I met Jasmine Guerrero at a local Starbucks through a mutual friend. After telling her of my plans to travel, she invited me to go with her and another girl to take a two-week missions trip to London, Dublin, and Paris. Was it a coincidence that their itinerary perfectly matched my own? Probably not.
Keep in mind, Jasmine barely knew me at this point in our friendship. But she (and her friend Amanda) took a risk, and four months later we were exploring sacred sites in Ireland, ministering to prostitutes in Paris, and eating the best fish and chips I’ve ever had in Cornwall, England.
That simple question was a gift from God…and the adventure and friendship it brought, answers to prayer.
2. Frolicking through the Irish countryside [June]
Halfway through the trip I described above, I found myself running through the hills outside of Dublin with friends—incidentally, at the site of the filming of the beginning of Braveheart. It was green beyond comprehension, more vast and untamed than I ever expected, and altogether one of the most joy-filled and God-ordained days of my life.
3. God in the movies
I once heard one of my favorite worship leaders, Jenn Johnson, say that you should pay attention to your favorite movie to see what it might reveal about your purpose in life and your identity. It’s possible that the storylines that captivate in film you mean something more significant than good entertainment. So, in 2017, I watched some of my favorites with the perspective that God may want to show something more to me.
In March, I saw the remake of Beauty and the Beast twice in the theaters…and was struck again by how much I identify with Belle. I’m pretty sure the opening scene where she skips through her hometown and sings of wanting to see the world had a formative effect on who I eventually became as an adult. Through Disney’s remake, God reminded me of who I am and what I value, and reminded me to stick to my guns on some of the less conventional choices I make (just as Belle does).
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is another favorite that I watched recently, leaving me newly inspired me to take big risks. If you haven’t seen this film, it follows the life of an office worker who daydreams incessantly but never steps outside of comfortable boundaries…until he does, and finds himself a whole new man. Watching this movie again was a God moment for me. I finished it with a resolve to keep doing things that scare me, and keep believing that I would find adventure and freedom on the other side of fear.
4. Miracle diagnosis [November]
After struggling with a couple of health issues for a few years, I had been feeling blessedly well for most of 2017. Until I didn’t. I was preparing myself for another struggle in my body, when I felt Jesus say, “You’re going to be 100% healed.” When I visited the doctor half-expecting a not-so-encouraging diagnosis, she assured me that my body had naturally resolved its own issue—that there wasn’t a thing wrong with me anymore. Gratitude, relief, peace.
This was the God moment that made me thank my Creator again for who He is, and for the fact that what we feel and what we expect don’t always correlate to reality. He is greater than our own fears, emotions, and sicknesses.
5. Epic pod off dolphins off the California coast [November]
This was one of those moments of witnessing God’s gorgeous Creation, removed from anything built, engineered, or conceived by humans. On the way to Catalina island to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family, the boat I was on came alongside a truly massive pod of dolphins, leaping and spinning out of the water. I had never seen so many dolphins in the wild, at least in California. The awe, wonder, and quiet they inspired reminded me that God values beauty…even when far removed from the eyes of humans.
6. The mission at San Juan Capistrano [March]
If you don’t know, California is peppered up and down the coast with missions originally established the Spanish. Most of them are still standing and can be visited and explored.
In March, I spontaneously visited the mission in San Juan Capistrano, CA while on lunch break at a conference. Downtown San Juan Capistrano was packed that day, with people spilling out of bars, live music, and lots of traffic. When I entered the stone courtyard inside of the mission, I found a world removed from what directly bordered the mission. It was quiet, sacred, and ancient, reminding me that the peace and presence of God can always be accessed…even in the midst of chaos.
7. Butterflies everywhere
This was the year of the butterfly. Towards the end of 2016, one afternoon a neighbor pointed out a tiny, firm chrysalis hanging from a lawn chair. I felt God show me that the chrysalis was very much like my own personal life season. Edged in gold, it also reminded me of the following verse in the Bible:
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.*
Then, in 2017 God began to show me butterflies, showing me release, freedom, a new season of life was here.
For a number of months, they were everywhere, and not just in nature. I saw butterfly murals, butterflies all over children’s clothing, butterfly décor in people’s homes, butterfly decals on storefront windows, even a giant butterfly painted on the side of UHaul while driving down the freeway. While sitting in a Starbucks one day, I noticed a woman in front of me with tiny butterflies tattooed down her neck and back. God wanted to remind me again and again of His relentless desire to speak to me and to remind me of what He’s doing in my life.
These 7 moments weren’t necessarily defining moments of my year, and they weren’t necessarily the moments that made me cry or pray or make life-altering decisions. They were simply the moments that made me stop and notice Him.
It can be easy to miss God in the everyday. It can also be easy to notice Him—and notice the details that show God to be deeply loving, supremely sovereign, and surprisingly detail-oriented.
*1 Peter 1:6-7