As nine-year old boys, my son and his friends are not into academic pursuits, tea parties and fashion shows, or even organized team sports for that matter. When getting together, they are more interested in chaos, hunting each other, and various forms of minor destruction. To combat this urge, and much to my son and his friend’s delight, my wife and I maintain a large vat of Nerf guns.
To be clear, my wife and I have never been fond of guns. We really don’t like them. And for years, we kept our son from most forms of media that involved guns. However, as he grew and was influenced by the much older boys on the bus (bad habits and ideas are always picked up from the bus), the desire, and some might argue the genetic need, to play with guns has grown, so my wife and I don’t so much support the idea as try to temper it with Nerf materials.
When the boys are starting to get a little bored and restless (idle hands, blah, blah, blah), out come the Nerf guns, and they dive right in. Stockpiling them from years of tag sales, I’m unsure at this point as to how many Nerf guns I actually have, but I know we’ve got all kinds. Some shoot one bullet at a time, others, can shoot 20 in 10 seconds. Though, what’s great about all of them is that they all take the same bullet. So, we own a thousand or so Nerf bullets, which if you’re unfamiliar with them, are about 2 inches long, mostly dark blue foam, with a small orange rubber tip. Chomping at the bit, the boys grab a large handful and go running around the house and yard.
The typical aftermath carnage of said Nerf fights includes dark blue bullets throughout the house and yard, which sounds easy enough to clean up, but you’d be surprised. As these bullets really gain some yardage when fired, they end up in every possible corner. As a family activity, we’ll scour the yard for them before the dog or the lawnmower gets them, but we may miss a few. If we’re lucky, we can gather up 95% of the bullets, but that still leaves 20-30 among the missing. Actively looking isn’t really an option at that point, so we just keep our eyes open for the next week, looking under sofas, behind coffeemakers, in the laundry, wherever. Although they are easy to miss because of the dark color and size, if we look closely enough for them, we can find them.
It’s easy to see God when things are going our way. When the rewards roll in because of our efforts, or maybe despite our efforts, we easily celebrate the fact that God is in our lives. However, when things start to dry up and the rewards aren’t flowing in quite as quickly or smoothly, we drift towards the thought that God has abandoned us or that He is quiet and lying dormant. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth, as God has never left. God is there, if we just take a minute and look for Him.
When someone says that “God is in the details” (a phrase older than the one that invokes the devil), what they usually mean is that if attention is paid to the small things in life, great rewards await. For example, a buzzing bee may appear to be a nuisance, but appreciating the construction of that creature, the fact that it can fly, mate, and pollinate, as well as the extreme detail that makes up its body’s construction helps us to see the glory that is a bee and how wonderfully made it is. Pay close attention, and you can spot what is often easily missed. At our house, paying attention to the fact that these bullets are around but hidden rewards us greatly for the next Nerf fight. For Christians, it is easy to miss God if you aren’t looking for Him, as God is much like these small Nerf bullets: He’s there if you keep your eyes open.
The Bible repeatedly states that God is all around us and in every living thing. In his evangelical letter to the Romans, Paul lets us know that we are surrounded by God’s glory, even if it’s not obvious: we just have to look for it. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (1.20). Truly, we have no excuse, because God is in all things around us. If we don’t see it, it’s not His fault, but ours. He’s the constant one; we aren’t. If I don’t spot my son’s Nerf bullets, it’s not because the bullets have changed properties, abandoned me, or are lying dormant: it’s that I haven’t noticed them because I wasn’t looking hard enough.
If you find yourself feeling abandoned by God or you’re having trouble feeling His presence, take the time to look more closely at the details of His creation and reassure yourself that He is in fact surrounding us with His love. Spend time just enjoying the beauty of this place, and His love for you will become more apparent the closer you look. It really is quite a wonderfully created world, made just for us, out of love for us. Now, we need to take the time to open our eyes wide enough to be able to spot what is so clearly on display for us every day. Amen.