Editor’s Note: Today’s post is a great introduction to this month’s blog theme: Advent. As opposed to the world’s incessant focus on Christmas (from about Halloween on), the Church calendar calls us to take a longer view. Although Advent is something that has become popular these days (as one blogger says, it’s what the cool kids are doing), the focus on Christ’s first and last advents help us to see beyond the season’s instant gratification into a time of waiting and longing. Each of our writer’s will explore this theme in their own way this month. We hope that you will join the conversation.
A scene in the movie A Nativity Story shows a very pregnant Mary on her donkey led by Joseph, as they approach Bethlehem. Hostile soldiers stop them, looking for “the Messiah.” Herod had told them to look for “a man of power, a man the people will follow.” After their search, one soldier concludes, “He [Joseph] is not the man.”
As I watched this interchange, I thought to myself, “Wow. That’s ingenious. The Messiah they are looking for is hidden in plain sight!” The problem was that the soldiers were looking for what they thought they would find, not for what God put there.
As my thoughts rambled along, I wondered how often I look for evidence of God in the wrong places, when all along God’s goodness is hidden in plain sight. Indeed, Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is like a treasure hidden in a field (Mt. 13:44). Paul said that “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” are hidden in Christ (Col 2:3).
Perhaps the invitation of God to me at this season of my life is not to repeat the experiences and learning of my past journey, but to move into experiences and learning that seem to be hidden. Perhaps God is inviting me to move beyond my familiar expectations. Perhaps God is inviting me to be surprised.
My search for Jesus is not a hostile one as King Herod’s was. But like the soldiers, I may be looking in the wrong places. Perhaps God is hidden in the normal realities of life. If so, my prayer is that God will open the eyes of my heart to see love and grace when it is hidden in plain sight.
Where have you been looking for Jesus?
How might the Church calendar and Advent be calling you to find Jesus in plain sight?
Alice Fryling is a spiritual director and the author of several books, including The Art of Spiritual Listening: Responding to God’s Voice Amid the Noise of Life (WaterBrook Press) and Seeking God Together: An Introduction to Group Spiritual Direction (InterVarsity Press).